US Senator slams State Department’s failure to list India as CPC
Oklahoma Senator James Lankford wrote an open letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in which he expressed his “extreme disappointment” that countries known for extreme religious freedoms violations, including India, were not designated as Countries of Particular Concern (CPCs) in 2022.
For the past three years, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a federal government commission, has recommended that the State Department designate India as a CPC due to ongoing and egregious violations of human rights and religious freedoms.
However, despite several reports from USCIRF stating that India matches the description of a CPC, a label reserved for the world’s most egregious violators of religious freedoms, the State Department has repeatedly failed to designate India as such.
“India was not formally designated despite overt and repeated severe violations of religious freedom. India is an important security partner for the United States and a key counter-weight against China in the Indo-Pacific region,” wrote Senator Lankford. “In the context of that partnership, the United States must have a robust discussion about the deteriorating religious freedom conditions for religious minorities in India.”
Senator Lankford further called on the State Department to provide their rationale for leaving India and other violators off the CPC list, adding that federal law requires that “an annual report detailing the state of religious freedom in each foreign country… be transmitted to Congress.”
India in danger of becoming Hindu nationalist State, says US Congressman
United States Congressman Andy Levin on Thursday said during a speech to the US House of Representatives that India is facing the danger of becoming a Hindu nationalist state rather than a secular democracy.
“I have been a vocal advocate for human rights in places like India, which is in danger of becoming a Hindu nationalist state rather than a secular democracy,” said Levin, who represented the ninth Congressional District from Michigan.
“I am a lover of Hinduism, a lover of Jainism, Buddhism and other religions that were born in India, but we need to protect the rights of all people there,” he added. “Whether they’re Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Christians, Jains.”
Levin has been outspoken about human rights violations against Muslims, Christians,
and Kashmiris for years. He has strongly criticized the policies of the Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “his failure, as chief minister of the state of Gujarat, to intervene during a 2002 outbreak of horrific violence against Muslims.”
Two civilians shot dead in Kashmir, residents say army responsible
Kashmiri civilians marched in protest after two civilians were shot dead and one injured after Indian soldiers reportedly opened fire. While the Indian military has blamed “unidentified terrorists” responsible for murdering the victims, Kamal Kishore and Surinder Kumar, Kashmiri civilians have stated that an Army sentry fired without warning when a group of residents were approaching for work.
Soon after the incident, residents staged protests near the Army camp. Police are investigating whether the firing was a case of mistaken identity.
Kashmiri Muslims have faced decades of brutalization from Indian military forces, including forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, internet shutdowns, and police brutality. August 5, 2022 marked the third year since the Modi regime stripped Kashmir of the special semi-autonomous status granted by Article 370 of the Indian constitution.
Civil society at large and human rights defenders, in particular, have faced relentless suppression including interrogations, detentions, and repressive media policies while blocking access to appeals or justice in courts and human rights bodies.
Hindu supremacist groups call for ban on Halal certification in Karnataka
Hindu supremacist organizations held protests in BJP-ruled Karnataka state demanding a ban on Halal certification, a process that labels products as being fit to consume for Muslims according to religious standards.
Members of the Hindu Jana Jagruti Samiti, Sri Rama Sene, and other extremist groups were part of the protests.
Earlier, extremist Hindu organizations had also conducted door-to-door campaigns calling for a boycott of halal-certified products in Karnataka. They had staged demonstrations outside multinational food chain outlets, including KFC and McDonald’s, demanding that they should not serve Halal-certified meat to non-Muslims.
Hindu supremacists across India have begun taking issue with halal products and labels, calling for boycotts of halal brands and falsely claiming that such brands are “anti-Hindu.”