India criticizes 2024 religious freedom report from US agency

India on Thursday condemned a U.S. report released this week on religious freedom, which advised the U.S. State Department to designate India and 16 others as Countries of Particular Concern.
Religious Freedom Report:- India on Thursday condemned a U.S. report released this week on religious freedom, which advised the U.S. State Department to designate India and 16 others as Countries of Particular Concern.[VOA]
Religious Freedom Report:- India on Thursday condemned a U.S. report released this week on religious freedom, which advised the U.S. State Department to designate India and 16 others as Countries of Particular Concern.[VOA]

Religious Freedom Report:- India on Thursday condemned a U.S. report released this week on religious freedom, which advised the U.S. State Department to designate India and 16 others as Countries of Particular Concern.

Addressing a news conference, India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal called the report "propaganda on India."

Countries are added to the CPC list because of "particularly severe violations of religious freedom," according to the U.S. State Department.

The report was released Wednesday by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, or USCIRF, an independent bipartisan agency that annually releases policy recommendations to the U.S. government on international religious freedom.

The report recommended that 12 countries designated in 2023 by the U.S. State Department to be of "particular concern" be named again on the 2024 list, including China and Russia. This year's report added five new countries: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Nigeria, Vietnam and India.

It also recommended the redesignation of seven nonstate actors as Entities of Particular Concern, including groups like al-Shabab and Boko Haram.

Eleven nations were recommended to be added to the State Department's special watch list for "perpetration or toleration of severe violations of religious freedom."

"We really have no expectation that USCIRF will even seek to understand India's diverse, pluralistic and democratic ethos," Jaiswal said at the news conference, adding that "their efforts to interfere in the largest electoral exercise in the world will never succeed." National elections are currently under way in India.

USCIRF's report on India said, "The government, led by [President Narendra Modi’s ruling] Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), reinforced discriminatory nationalist policies, perpetuated hateful rhetoric and failed to address communal violence."

It said that this violence "disproportionately" affects Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, Jews and Adivasis, or indigenous peoples.

In addition to recommending that the U.S. government designate India as a Country of Particular Concern, it recommended sanctions against those responsible for religious freedom violations.

The commission further advised the U.S. Congress to provide financial assistance and arms sales to India only under the condition that religious freedom conditions improve. VOA/SP

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