US report on Religious Freedom: America has no business to interfere in the internal affairs of India

Lalit Shastri

The US Secretary of State Micheal R Pompeo released the 2019 International Religious Freedom Report, Wednesday 10 June 2020, with a rabidly supremacist opening remark when he stated: “We remain the greatest nation in the history of civilization”. In the same breath, he also said: “while America is not a perfect nation by any means, we always strive towards that more perfect union, trying to improve” – as if to cover up the mud on the face due to the ongoing violent riots and “Black Lives Matter” protests across the US and the entire globe.

From that high-ground and self-proclaimed status of “the greatest nation in history”, Pompeo released the annual Report on International Religious Freedom, which goes to Congress and is supposed to describe the status of religious freedom in every country. The U.S. Department of State is mandated to submit this reports in accordance with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. It is claimed that it covers government policies violating religious belief and practices of groups, religious denominations and individuals, and U.S. policies to promote religious freedom around the world.

Newsroom24x7 has taken close stock of the report dealing with India and has come to the conclusion that it recklessly interferes with the internal affairs of the country. Important case in point is the most objectionable reference to Jammu and Kashmir in this report.

The report says: In August (2019) the central government revoked the semiautonomous status of the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir and split it into two union territories: Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh (without mentioning that the revocation was within the ambit of the Indian Constitution and approved by both Houses of Parliament).

Continuing further, the report says: “The revocation (of provisions under Article 370) sparked protests, criticism from Muslim leaders, and challenges filed in the Supreme Court from opposition politicians, human rights activists, and others. The government sent thousands of additional security forces to the region, shut down many internet and phone lines, and had not restored full service by year’s end. The government also closed most mosques in the area until mid-December. Seventeen civilians and three security personnel were killed during the protests”. This amounts to making a mockery of the Kashmir problem, because the report turns a blind eye and is silent vis-a-vis India’s security concerns, especially the challenge posed by ethnic cleansing – i.e. the systematic elimination and exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from the Kashmir valley, continuing proxy war, export of terrorists, funding of separatist and secessionist activities and the programme to radicalise the Muslim youth on religious grounds by Pakistan.

And then, the report also zooms in on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed by Parliament last December. While underscoring that it accelerates citizenship for Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan who entered the country on or before December 31, 2014, it says that it is not for similarly-situated migrants who are Muslims, Jews, atheists, or members of other faiths. Here again those who have compiled and come forward with analysis for this report have worked with blinkers and have failed to take into consideration the letter and spirit of this Act. It is again a shoddy job done by the US State Department and the office of International Religious Freedom because the report fails to take into consideration the CAA in the backdrop of the two-nation theory based on religion that that led to massive communal riots, slaughter of hundreds of thousands and exodus of millions and the partition of India and creation of Islamic Republic of Pakistan on religious grounds in 1947 and the persecution of the religious minorities in the neighbouring Islamic countries (including Bangladesh that was created after Pakistan was defeated by India in a full-fledged war in 1971).

to be continued…..

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