US religious freedom panel calls on Biden Administration to declare India as ‘country of particular concern’


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The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF),  an independent federal government commission, is alarmed by India’s alleged increased transnational targeting of religious minorities. The US religious freedom watchdog again called on the Biden administration to designate India as a ‘country of particular concern’ under the US Religious Freedom Act, citing its alleged targeting of religious minorities overseas.

“The Indian government’s alleged involvement in the killing of Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada and the plot to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in the United States are deeply troubling and represent a severe escalation of India’s efforts to silence religious minorities and human rights defenders both within its country and abroad,” said USCIRF Commissioner Stephen Sche. “We call on the Biden administration to acknowledge the Indian government’s perpetration of particularly severe religious freedom violations and designate it as a country of particular concern (CPC).”

In November 2023, the US Department of Justice published an indictment alleging the Indian government’s attempt to assassinate a Sikh activist was intended to prompt a series of additional killings in the United States and Canada. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said this month that an Indian national had worked with an unnamed Indian government employee on the plot to assassinate a New York City resident who advocated for a sovereign Sikh state in northern India. India’s government has denied involvement in the plot.

USCIRF Commissioner David Curry said, “Extending this repression to target religious minorities from India living abroad, including intimidation tactics against journalists, is especially dangerous and cannot be ignored. We urge the U.S. government to continue its active engagement with senior Indian officials and international partners to ensure religious minorities can live and express themselves without fear of reprisal, whether in India or elsewhere.”

USCIRF has recommended each year since 2020 that the US. Department of State designate India as a CPC. In September 2023, USCIRF held a hearing on religious freedom conditions in India and how the US government can work with the Indian government to address violations.

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