The religious freedom conditions in India were widely covered by world media in 2019, often citing a drastic downward trend in the religious freedom of the country. In effect, the United Nation Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended designation of India as a ‘country of particular concern‘. This was provided in its annual report released on April 29, 2020. This is the first time since 2004, that India has been placed alongside Burma, China, Iran, Eritrea, Syria et cetera.
Reasons for Recommendation of ‘A Country of Particular Concern‘
Religious Freedom in India has experienced a drastic downturn in 2019, claims UNC. There were many incidents of assault on religious minorities in 2019. Meanwhile. Bhartiya Janta Party re-elected in May 2019. Henceforth, the government introduced various National level Policies by using its parliamentary majority. These controversial policies allegedly violated religious freedom across India, especially for Muslims. Moreover, there were allegations on the government allowing violence against minorities and their house of worship. The UNC alleged that the government engaged in and tolerated hate speech and incitement to violence.
Many incidents were also cited in the report for recommending India as ‘country of particular concern’. The Enactment of Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, the publication of final Assam-NRC list, proposal to introduce nationwide NRC, the crackdown on anti CAA-NRC protesters, riots, lockdown in Jammu and Kashmir were some those incidents.
The Government of India gave a sharp reaction to the USCIRF report. It termed the report biased. Anurag Srivastava, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson criticised the report while rejecting it. He stated that its biased and tendentious comments against India are not new. He asserted that UNC’s misrepresentation has reached new levels. Adding, that the organisation itself is not able to carry its commissioners in its endeavour. At last, Srivastava dismissed the UNC as an organisation of particular concern.