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US Religious Freedom Watchdog Urges Designation of India as Country of Particular Concern

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The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has intensified calls upon the Biden administration to classify India as a “Country of Particular Concern” under the US Religious Freedom Act. This request comes in the wake of concerns raised by the independent federal government commission over India’s alleged efforts to stifle activists, journalists, and legal representatives globally, posing a significant threat to religious freedoms.

In a statement reported by Reuters, USCIRF emphasized India’s consistent, severe, and ongoing violations of freedom of religion or belief, urging the US Department of State to take decisive action.

Commissioner Stephen Schneck highlighted the deeply troubling implications of India’s purported involvement in incidents abroad, including the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada and an alleged plot targeting Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in the United States.

According to USCIRF, it has consistently recommended, since 2020, that the US State Department designate India as a country of particular concern under the 1998 US Religious Freedom Act. This act allows for various policy responses, including sanctions or waivers, in response to violations of religious freedoms.

Commissioner David Curry underscored the gravity of India’s extension of domestic repression beyond its borders, targeting religious minorities residing abroad. He emphasized that such actions pose a significant threat and warrant urgent attention and action.

The USCIRF’s insistence on this designation amplifies concerns about religious freedom violations in India and underscores the urgency for international recognition and action to address these alleged infringements.

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