New Delhi: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Tuesday rejected the observations on India by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), remarking that its ‘biased and tendentious comments against India are not new.’ Also Read - USCIRF 'Misguided', No Religious Segregation of COVID-19 Patients at Gujarat Hospital: MEA
Notably, the USCIRF, for the first time in 15 years, put India on the list of 14 countries, which, it requested the US State Department, should be designated as ‘countries of particular concern’ (CPCs) when it comes to issues of religious freedom. Also Read - Troubled by Denial of Food to Pakistani Hindus, Christians: USCIRF
In a statement, the MEA said, “We reject the observations on India in the USCIRF Annual Report. It is biased, and tendentious comments against India are not new.” Also Read - Delhi Violence: MEA Responds to USCIRF Statement, Calls it 'Factually Inaccurate And Misleading'
The ministry added that this time, however, the organisation’s misrepresentation of India ‘has reached new levels.’
“It has not been able to carry its own Commissioners in its endeavour. We regard it as an organization of particular concern and will treat it accordingly,” it added.
The above statement is in reference to reports that at least two members of the panel were not in agreement with the views of the rest of the panel.
Notably, the US State Department has thus far designated nine countries as CPCs: Burma (Myanmar), China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
Speaking to media, USCIRF vice-chairman Nadine Maeinza said, “Perhaps the steepest and most alarming deterioration of religious freedom conditions, in 2019, was in India, the largest democracy in the world.”
The CDC designation, notably, is the State Department’s highest designation on religious freedom and carries with it the potential for crippling sanctions and other negative consequences for violating countries.
This is not for the first time the USCIRF has made such ‘strong’ observations against India. Besides criticising the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), it had also commented on February’s northeast Delhi riots as well as the recent fake news of a hospital in Ahmedabad making separate wards for Hindu and Muslim patients.