US panel on religious freedom politicizing Delhi violence: India


India has strongly rebutted a recent statement of a US agency on the Delhi violence as factually “incorrect and misleading” and said that it is aimed at politicizing the issue.“We have seen comments made by United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), sections of media and a few individuals on recent incidents of violence in Delhi. These are factually inaccurate and misleading, and appear to be aimed at politicizing the issue,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on February 27.

“Our law enforcement agencies are working on the ground to prevent violence and ensure restoration of confidence and normalcy. Senior representatives of the government have been involved in that process. Prime Minister has publically appealed for peace and brotherhood. We would urge that irresponsible comments are not made at this sensitive time,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

The USCIRF had expressed “grave concern” on February 26 over the violence in Delhi following reports of attacks on Muslims, saying that the Indian government should provide equal protection to people regardless of their faith. “We urge the Indian government to make serious efforts to protect Muslims and others targeted by mob violence,” USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins said in a statement.

More than 30 people have been killed and over 250 injured in the violence over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Northeast Delhi. “The ongoing violence we are witnessing in Delhi and the reported attacks against Muslims, their homes and shops, and their houses of worship are greatly disturbing. One of the essential duties of any responsible government is to provide protection and physical security for its citizens, regardless of faith,” Perkins said in the statement.

USCIRF Commissioner Anurima Bhargava too had criticized the government for the “brutal and unchecked violence”. “The Indian government must take swift action to ensure the safety of its citizens,” she had said, adding that “Delhi Police have not intervened in violent attacks against Muslims, and the government is failing in its duty to protect its citizens”.

In 2019, the USCIRF had classified India as a “Tier 2” country for engaging in or tolerating religious freedom violations that meet at least one of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, egregious standard for designations as a country of particular concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act.