- Rejecting the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) International Religious Freedom Report, 2019, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said that foreign governments do not have the right to criticise India’s vibrant democracy and dedication to rule of law.
- MEA also asserted that the Indian Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all its citizens, including its minority communities. Fundamental right to freedom of religion is guaranteed under Articles 25, 26, 27 and 28 of Part III of the Indian Constitution.
- USCIRF Report had noted that there was overall deterioration of religious freedom conditions in 2018 in India. USCIRF has placed India in the Tier 2 country category.
- Tier 2 countries are those in which violations engaged in or tolerated by the government during 2018 are serious and characterized by at least one of the elements of the Country of Particular Concern (CPC) standard. CPC status are given to countries which engage in or tolerate systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.
- The report had identified several limitations to the right to freedom of religion or belief and challenges faced by religious minorities in India. It has identified a number of extremist groups who are responsible for an organised campaign of alienation against non-Hindus or low-caste Hindus.
- Further, it stated that anti-conversion and anti-cow slaughter laws are predominately used to discriminate against religious minorities. It has also raised concerns over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.
- The report also pointed out that there were several attempts to undermine minority institutions and change names of cities that reminded of the pluralistic nature of India. The report highlighted the change of the name of Allahabad to Prayagraj as an example.
6 min read