The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has once again called for India to be designated a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) due to its alleged systematic persecution of religious minorities under the Modi government. In a recent hearing on India, USCIRF commissioners expressed grave concerns about the deteriorating human rights and religious freedom situation in the country.
USCIRF Commissioner David Curry emphasized the severity of the situation, stating, “I’ve become convinced that India has the most sophisticated, systematic persecution of religious minorities by any democratic government. And I don’t say that lightly.”
Chair of USCIRF, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, noted, “Religious freedom conditions in India have notably declined in recent years. Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Dalits, Adivasis are experiencing increased levels of attacks and acts of intimidation… These trends and their implications for US foreign policy should not be ignored.”
Vice Chair Frederick A. Davie pointed out that USCIRF’s reporting has highlighted legal restrictions in several Indian states, including those on religious conversion, religious dress, educational curriculum, interfaith marriage, and cow slaughter, negatively impacting various communities in India.
The USCIRF hearing also saw international voices weighing in on the matter. Dr. Fernand de Varennes, United Nations Special Rapporteur on minority issues, warned, “If we don’t have that, we are heading towards a massive dangerous situation in India, [which] will have repercussions on the United States.”
Sarah Yager, Washington Director of Human Rights Watch, criticized the Biden administration’s support for Prime Minister Modi, stating, “With this unmitigated demonstration of support by US officials, we question what reason [Modi] has to change course… China’s rise cannot be an excuse for US officials to overlook, ignore or play down the human rights abuses of its friends.”
Sunita Viswanath, co-founder of Hindus for Human Rights, spoke on behalf of several organizations and expressed disappointment that representatives from affected communities were not invited to speak. She said, “The rejection by the Biden and Trump Administrations of USCIRF’s recommendation to designate India as a CPC for three years in a row is a troubling precedent.”
Irfan Nooruddin, Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor of Indian Politics at Georgetown University, drew attention to rising mob violence in India, stating, “Vigilante groups… harass, beat, and murder Muslim men rumored to be smuggling beef, dating a Hindu girl, or insulting a deity. No evidence is required.” He called on the US government to encourage India to defend religious minorities more decisively.
The USCIRF’s repeated recommendation to designate India as a CPC remains unimplemented by the US Department of State, but the issue continues to gain international attention and scrutiny.