Analysis: USCIRF reveals anti-India agenda in its 2024 annual report

Exposing the anti-India agenda of USCIRF and its annual report

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which has a notorious history of spreading canards about India and its internal affairs, has yet again targeted the nation in its 96-page annual report [pdf].

At the very onset, it claimed, “Over the years, USCIRF also has recognized improvements but continues to have ongoing concerns and has seen backsliding in other countries, including Egypt, India, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.” (Page 1 of the report)

The US federal government commission cited the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) and demanded the inclusion of India in the list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPCs) alongside Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Nigeria, and Vietnam. (Page 2 of the report)

The rationale floated by USCIRF for such a drastic measure was alleged ‘systematic, ongoing, (and) egregious violations’ of religious freedom by the Indian government.

This is despite the fact that throughout its 96-page long report, the US federal government commission failed to provide a single instance of the incumbent Modi government’s direct involvement in any violation of religious freedom of any individual.

On Page 5 of its malicious report, it cried foul, “USCIRF expressed disappointment that India and Nigeria were not designated as CPCs, despite the violations in both countries meeting the legal standard.

It must be mentioned that the USCIRF has been lobbying for India’s inclusion in the list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPCs) since 2020. Despite its repeated attempts, the US State Department has refused to entertain its demands.

2024 USCIRF report on India, Page 30

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has dedicated two pages of its report (Pages 30 and 31) to portray a falsified image of India to the rest of the world.

It lamented that India has been upfront in enforcing the humanitarian Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against domestic terrorists and the , cracking down on foreign funding of dubious NGOs through the cancellation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licences, and preventing forced conversions and illegal cow slaughter in line with constitutional principles.

USCIRF then went on to make sweeping claims about the use of anti-conversion, anti-cow slaughter laws, UAPA and FCRA cancellation to arbitrarily detain, monitor and target ‘religious minorities’ and those advocating for them.

It came to the rescue of the Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research (CPR), a think tank whose FCRA licence was cancelled for violating foreign funding norms. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs cited reports published by CPR on “current affairs programs” as one of the reasons for the cancellation.

2024 USCIRF report on India, Page 31

The US Federal Government Commission also defended NewsClick, even though it reportedly used funds received from China to procure weapons during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) violence in the National Capital. It also attempted to whitewash the sins of ‘activist’ Teesta Setalvad.

According to the Delhi Police, Setalvad received money from Chinese Communist Party (CCP) member Neville Roy Singham through NewsClick and used it to revive her propaganda portal ‘Sabrang India.’ The ‘activist’ was at the helm of peddling fake news during the 2002 Gujarat riots and creating mass hysteria, particularly through her ‘mass grave’ disinformation campaign.

USCIRF also sobbed over the detention of evangelists for the deceitful conversion of vulnerable and unsuspecting indigenous people (Adivasis) to Christianity. It also attempted to falsely impart a communal colour to the Kuki-Meitei ethnic clash in the Indian state of Manipur.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) threw its weight behind Wall Street Journal (WSJ) ‘journalist’ Sabrina Sidiqqui, infamous for her anti-India rants, and ended up exposing the hypocrisy of the White House.

On Page 75 of the report, it said, “Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the United States in June, comments from the head of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Information and Technology Department, Amit Malviya, prompted an online campaign against U.S. Wall Street Journal journalist Sabrina Siddiqui for posing a question to Prime Minister Modi about religious freedom conditions in the country.”

USCIRF extends support to terror financer and love jihad

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom extended support to journalist turned-terror financer Irfan Mehraj and cried foul over the Supreme Court’s validation to the revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

In line with the disinformation campaign of left-liberal and Islamist nexus, USCIRF also attempted to pass off love jihad (also called grooming jihad) as a ‘derogatory term’.

Anti-conversion laws increasingly included provisions designed to prevent interfaith marriages and so-called love jihad. Love jihad is a derogatory term used to describe the alleged occurrence of Muslim men marrying Hindu women for the purpose of conversion,” it claimed on Page 31 of its report.

In 2022, OpIndia documented 153 cases of love jihad (a phenomenon where a Hindu woman is entrapped into a vicious web of love through impersonation and identity fraud and later forcibly converted to Islam). Many of these cases have also culminated into the death of the victims.

USCIRF lies about Nuh violence

The US Federal Government Commission attempted to portray Islamists as the victims of the pre-planned carnage against Hindus during the  Jalabhishek Shobha yatra in the Nuh district in Mewat region of Haryana on 31st July 2023.

“In Haryana’s predominantly Muslim Nuh district, communal violence erupted following a Hindu procession in July, where participants carrying swords chanted anti-Muslim slogans. A Muslim tomb and mosque were torched, resulting in the death of at least seven individuals, including Imam Mohammad Hafiz. The violence was in part initiated by “Monu Manesar,” a well-known cow vigilante accused of murdering two Muslim men in January for allegedly transporting cattle. Manesar, who has garnered support from the BJP, publicly called for individuals to participate in the Hindu procession,” the USCIRF report said (Page 31 of the report).

OpIndia had reported from ground zero and debunked the false claim of ‘Muslim victimhood’, which was disseminated on social media by the left-liberal ecosystem.

It is worth noting that Haryana’s Mewat has been under the spotlight for the last few years for the increase in terror activities, cow smuggling, and forced conversions.

Peddles lies about India’s involvement in extra-territorial killings

Keeping the Lok Sabha elections in mind, the USCIRF joined hands with The Guardian and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News to allege that the Modi government has somehow been involved in extra-terriorial killings.

It repeated the unfounded claims by the Justin Trudeau-led- Canadian government about the ‘involvement’ of Indian Intelligence agencies in the assassination of Khalitani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjer.

USCIRF also highlighted the accusations by the US government of India’s supposed attempt to murder Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a Khalistani extremist eyeing to secede Punjab from the Union of India.

Indian authorities also increasingly engaged in acts of transnational repression targeting religious minorities abroad. In September, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged Indian authorities’ involvement in the killing of Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada, which was followed by a plot to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in the United States in November,” it claimed on Page 31 of its report.

It reiterated similar claims on Page 75 of its report, “The Indian government similarly engaged in increased acts of transnational repression to target religious minorities living in the diaspora. In addition to allegations of involvement in an assassination and assassination attempts of Canadian and American Sikh citizens, Indian government officials facilitated harassment campaigns to silence dissidents critical of religious freedom conditions in India.”

As a matter of fact, neither Canada nor the United States has so far been able to furnish any proof that can remotely implicate the Indian government or its Intelligence Officers in the extraterritorial killings.

USCIRF eyes to interfere in the internal affairs of India

Through its annual report, the USCIRF also tried to interfere in the internal policy-making decisions of the Indian government. For instance, it objected to the implementation of three new bills to replace the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

In 2023, the Indian government introduced three bills to reform the country’s criminal code, which could target religious minorities by expanding police powers for “preventative action” and punishments for acts of terrorism,” USCIRF alleged in its report.

It also attempted to interfere in the decision-making process of the Ministry of External Affairs over handing OIC cards to the Indian diaspora. “The Indian government also continued to deny entry and cancel overseas citizen of India (OIC) status to members of the diaspora,” USCIRF claimed on Page 75 of its report.

Nefarious agenda of USCIRF

The controversial Commission has made 5 recommendations to the US government and 2 recommendations to the US Congress. Three of them are particularly concerning in nature and can harm the bilateral ties between India and the United States in the long run.

  1. Encourage review by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to ensure that international recommendations to prevent terrorist financing are not misused by Indian authorities to detain religious minorities and those advocating on their behalf.
  2. Designate India as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, for engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, as defined by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA)
  3. The US Congress should condition financial assistance and arms sales to India on improved religious freedom conditions and include measures for additional review and reporting.

Conclusion

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, which was created in 1998 by the Clinton administration, has been reporting on ‘religious freedom in India’ for the past two decades.

It has been snubbed by the Modi government for its biased reporting, brazen interference in India’s internal affairs, and spreading lies about the country’s religious freedom.

Featured Image – USCIRF via Sunday Guardian Live

The article was first published in OpIndia on 3rd May 2024.