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Indian govt’s policies do not protect religious freedom: USCIRF

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The 2022 report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has again asked the US Department of States to designate India as “country of particular concern” (CPC) saying “religious freedom and related human rights in India are under ongoing threat for a variety of reasons, including various government policies that do not protect religious minorities”.

The report cited various issues such as crackdown on civil society and dissent, anti-conversion laws, anti-cow slaughter laws, Karnataka hijab ban, disinformation and hate speech, attacks on religious communities and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) as some prime issues nagging the country.

A country is designated as CPC for engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations, as set forth by the International Religious Freedom Act.

The report noted that in 2022, religious freedom conditions in India remained poor. During the year, the Indian government at the national, state, and local levels continued to promote and enforce policies, including laws targeting religious conversion, interfaith relationships, and cow slaughter, which negatively affect Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and Adivasis (indigenous and scheduled tribal people).

The national government also continued to suppress critical voices—particularly religious minorities and those advocating on their behalf—including through surveillance, harassment, demolition of property, arbitrary travel bans, and detention under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and by targeting nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) under the Financial Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA).