India dismisses remarks by USCIRF as ‘biased and inaccurate’ | Latest News India

India on Saturday dismissed as “biased and inaccurate” comments by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expressing concern over government action against critics and calling out the country for violations of religious freedom.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi accused the USCIRF of misrepresenting facts in its statements and reports “pursuant to its own motivated agenda”.

“We have seen biased and inaccurate comments on India by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). These comments reflect a severe lack of understanding of India and its constitutional framework, its pluralism and its democratic ethos,” Bagchi said in a brief statement.

“Unfortunately, USCIRF continues to repeatedly misrepresent facts in its statements and reports in pursuit of its motivated agenda. Such actions only serve to reinforce concerns about the organization’s credibility and objectivity,” he said.

Earlier on Saturday, USCIRF’s official Twitter handle quoted its commissioner David Curry as saying that the commission was “concerned by the Government of India’s continued repression of critical voices – particularly those of religious minorities and those reporting and advocating on their behalf”.

The Twitter handle quoted USCIRF Commissioner Stephen Schneck as saying: “Human rights lawyers, journalists, activists and faith leaders in #India face harassment for speaking out and reporting on religious freedom conditions. It does not reflect a country with a democratic history.

Another tweet said: “USCIRF recommends designation of #India as CPC [country of particular concern] For systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom, including repression of critical voices who speak out against these violations.

One of the tweets linked to a Voice of America report on the recent arrest of human rights activist Teesta Setalvad on charges of criminal conspiracy and tampering with evidence. The report also mentioned the names of former police officers RB Sreekumar and Sanjeev Bhatt, who were arrested in the First Information Report (FIR) related to the Gujarat riots.

In its reports for 2021 and 2022, the USCIRF recommended to the US government that India be designated a “country of particular concern” for “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom”. Such recommendations are not binding on the US Government.

India has rejected these findings and other criticisms from the USCIRF, an independent, bipartisan US federal government agency. The commission oversees the universal right to religious freedom abroad and makes policy recommendations to the US President, Secretary of State, and Congress.

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