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ICC Note:

Once again, India has refused to take cognizance of the annual religious freedom report issued by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). For the second year in a row, USCIRF has sited many examples of the deterioration of religious freedom in India at the hands of radical Hindu nationalists. Instead of recognizing and seeking to correct this issue, India has once again decided to deny the issue’s existence claiming that USCIRF doesn’t fully understand India. In the first four months of 2016 alone, ICC has already recorded and verified nearly 70 attacks on Christians and their places of worship. In 2015, the Catholic Secular Forum recorded 365 attacks. Will India finally take steps to correct this problem or will they continue to deny that a problem exists?

5/3/2016 India (The Indian Express) – India on Tuesday refused to take cognizance of the annual religious freedom report by the USCIRF, questioning the commission’s locus standi to pronounce on the Indian state and its citizens fundamental rights.

“Our attention has been drawn to the recent report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which once again fails to show proper understanding of India, its constitution and its society,” Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup told journalists in New Delhi.

“India is a vibrant pluralistic society founded on strong democratic principles. The Indian Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all its citizens including the right to freedom of religion. The government does not see the locus standi of a foreign entity like USCIRF to pronounce on the state of Indian citizens’ constitutionally protected rights. We take no cognizance of their report,” he added.

In its annual report, the USCIRF – an independent, bipartisan federal commission – was highly critical of the two-year Narendra Modi government, claiming that minority communities in the country experienced incidents of violence at the hands of right-wing fundamentalist groups.

The report, which comes weeks ahead of Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Washington, is not binding on the US State Department.

Minority religious leaders and laity, including from the Muslim, Christian, and Sikh communities, and non-government organizations (NGOs), attribute India’s recent decline in religious freedom and communal harmony to religiously-divisive campaigning in advance of the country’s 2014 general election and the BJP’s victory in that election.

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