India Denies Visas to US Panel That Raised Religious Freedom Issue
In April, USCIRF had said that India be termed a “country of particular concern”.
The Government of India has denied visas to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) after it raised 'religious freedom' issues in India, The Indian Express reported.
According to the report, after BJP MP Nishikant Dubey flagged the observations made by USCIRF in December 2019, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, in a letter dated 1 June, said:
“We have denied visa to USCIRF teams that have sought to visit India in connection with issues related to religious freedom, as we do not see the locus standi of a foreign entity like USCIRF to pronounce on the state of Indian citizens’ constitutionally protected rights.”
In April, USCIRF had said that India be termed a “country of particular concern.”
The team had asked the US State Department to designate 14 nations, including India, as "countries of particular concern", alleging that religious minorities are under increasing assault in these nations.
India had, however, rejected the report back then, calling it “inaccurate and unwarranted” as reported by The Quint earlier.
USCIRF's report also alleged that, in 2019, religious freedom conditions in India “experienced a drastic turn downward”. It also talked about “rising Islamophobia” in the country.
In response, Jaishankar added, “USCIRF has been known to make prejudiced, inaccurate and misleading observations regarding the state of religious freedom in India. We do not take cognisance of these pronouncements and have repudiated such attempts to misrepresent information related to India.”
According to the report, he also reiterated that India will not accept any external interference or pronouncement on matters related to country’s sovereignty and the fundamental rights of its citizens.
Earlier on Thursday, a report called '2019 International Religious Freedom Report', mandated by the US Congress, took cognisance of the alleged attacks and discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities in India.
This International Religious Freedom (IRF) report said, as reported by PTI: “On 22 December, Modi disavowed any discussion of implementing the NRC nationwide, including earlier comments from Home Minister Amit Shah that a nationwide NRC should be in place so, we will detect and deport every infiltrator from our motherland.”
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