India trashes USCIRF report, calls it misrepresentation of facts

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New Delhi: India on Tuesday categorically trashed as “biased” and “motivated” a report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that alleged “severe violations” of religious freedom in the country.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the Commission continues to regurgitate such comments and India rejects the “misrepresentation of facts” which only serves to “discredit USCIRF itself”.

He also asked USCIRF to develop a better understanding of India, its plurality and its democratic ethos.

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“The US Commission on International Religious Freedom continues to regurgitate biased and motivated comments about India, this time in its 2023 annual report,” he said.

“We reject such misrepresentation of facts which only serves to discredit USCIRF itself,” Bagchi added.

“We would urge USCIRF to desist from such efforts and develop a better understanding of India, its plurality, its democratic ethos and its constitutional mechanisms,” he said.

In its annual report on religious freedom, the USCIRF asked the US State Department to designate India as a “country of particular concern” on the status of religious freedom along with several other nations.

The USCIRF has been making similar recommendations to the State Department since 2020, which have not been accepted.

The recommendations of USCIRF are not mandatory for the State Department.

In its India section of the latest report, the USCIRF alleged that in 2022, religious freedom conditions in India continued to worsen.

The US Commission also urged the Biden administration to impose targeted sanctions on Indian government agencies and officials responsible for “severe violations” of religious freedom in the country by freezing their assets.

It also recommended that Congress raise the issue of religious freedom during US-India bilateral meetings and hold hearings on it.

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( With inputs from )

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