US commission for putting India on religious freedom blacklist

Washington, April 22 : An independent commission of the US has recommended for the second year in a row that India be placed on a blacklist for religious freedom, saying treatment of minorities had deteriorated further.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom in its annual report said that “religious freedom conditions in India continued their negative trajectory.”

The Indian government last year responded angrily to the call by the commission and there remains little chance that the US State Department will take its advice and condemn India, an increasingly close US ally.

The commission, which offers recommendations but does not set US policy, said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government “promoted Hindu nationalist policies resulting in systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom.”

It pointed to allegations of police complicity in violence against Muslims during deadly riots in New Delhi last year and continued concerns over a citizenship law championed by Modi that critics say defines Muslims as non-Indian.

The commission also maintained that the Indian government has been stifling dissent and voiced concern over the rise of restrictions on inter-faith marriages including in India’s largest state Uttar Pradesh.

The commission recommended that the State Department designate India as a “country of particular concern”, a blacklist that includes China, Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, Nigeria, North Korea, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and other countries.

In addition to India, the commission also called on the State Department to add Russia, Syria and Vietnam to the blacklist.

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