The ongoing scuffle between the Government Of India and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has intensified. After the commission had called out India for increasing attacks on religious minorities, the Indian government has denied visas to members of the said commission.
The commission members wanted to visit India to take cognizance of the situation. On the other hand, the Indian government has accused it of presenting a misleading picture of the country. The commission had flagged India as one of the countries of particular concern in its prestigious report.
In its annual report for 2020, USCIRF Vice Chair Nadine Maenza noted that India had seen “perhaps the steepest, and most alarming, deterioration” in religious freedom in the past year.
With this, the continued attacks on the Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi have further increased in pitch. Notably, since his election in 2014, several agencies have called out Narendra Modi for the deteriorating condition of the freedom of expression in the country. This is another addition to the already blemished record of the strongman leader.
WHY DID INDIA REJECT THE VISAS?
The Indian government believes that the members of the commission engage in fake propaganda about the Democratic country.
This sentiment was echoed by external affairs Minister S Jaishankar in his statement.
“We have denied visa to USCIRF teams that have sought to visit India in connection with issues related to religious freedom, as we do not see the locus standi of a foreign entity like USCIRF to pronounce on the state of Indian citizens’ constitutionally protected rights.”
This doesn’t reflect very well on the Indian Government. Denying an internationally recognized organization access to its territory further raises doubts. It will be interesting to note the response of the said organization to this grave allegation.