International

US watchdog wants India on religious freedom blacklist

Elena Pavlovska – New Europe

A United States government panel on Tuesday has called for India to be put on a religious freedom blacklist.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom said in its annual report that India should join the ranks of “countries of particular concern” that would be subject to sanctions if they do not improve their records.

“In 2019, religious freedom conditions in India experienced a drastic turn downward, with religious minorities under increasing assault”, the report said.

It highlighted India’s controversial citizenship law, which the United Nations has called “fundamentally discriminatory”. The country has been torn by deadly protests followed by curfew since December, when the Citizenship Amendment Act, offered by PM Modi, was passed.

The law allows citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians who illegally migrated to India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. It, however, does not allow citizenship for Muslims.

The report also highlighted the revocation of the autonomy of Kashmir, which was India’s only Muslim-majority state.

The panel’s vice-chair Nadine Maenza said that India has a broader “move toward clamping down on religious minorities that’s really troublesome”.

The report concluded by calling on the US to impose punitive measures, including visa bans on Indian officials.

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