Anti-India forces: Designate India as Country of Particular Concern (CPC)

by SHHAN Team member

Anti-India forces up the ante to designate India as CPC following the Joe Biden’s electoral victory

In the wake of Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s Presidential election victory efforts have already gained momentum to portray India as a nation with worst religious freedom. The United States based anti-India forces have initiated programmes to spread misinformation about religious persecution in India to push further their agenda of declaring India as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC).

In a web seminar titled “Designating India as CPC to Combat Religious Persecution of India’s Religious Minorties”, jointly organised by Indian American Muslim Charity (IAMC), Dalit Solidarity Forum, Hindus for Human Rights (H4HR), among other organisations, speakers presented India as a nation where Hindus are essentially violent and government is complicit in acts of violence involving religious communities and Dalits.

The speakers of the webinar included Vice Chair at United State Commission of International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Anurima Bhargava, Joanne Lin from Amnesty International USA, Matias Perttula, Advocacy director of International Christian Concern, Salam Al Marayati, director of Muslim Public Affairs Council, Arjun Sethi, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and Roja Singh, President of Dalit Solidarity Forum.

While the USCIRF, which is an independent commission to advise the US government on religious freedom across the world, had recommended to designate India as CPC, a category to mark a particular country as “those countries that commit systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom”, in her key note Bhargava reiterated the imaginary threat Indian Christians and Muslims face.

In her attempt to project Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government as introducing policies to render Muslims stateless, she said, “National Population Register (NPR), National Register of Citizens (NRC) along with the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) could result in wide-spread disenfranchisement of Indian Muslims.”

She said non-Muslims left out of the NRC can become legal citizens of India under the CAA but “Muslims excluded by the NRC would have no recourse.” “A number of Indian citizens can be sent to detention centres”.

Further, accusing political leaders, government authorities as well as the media, she said hate speech and false information using social media platforms were spread to victimise Dalits, Muslims and Christians in India.

She also criticised the anti-cow slaughter and anti-conversion laws. She said such laws are problematic as these laws create an environment of impunity for the assailants in cases of mob violence. She alleged that these laws have been used to predominantly arrest Christians and Muslims.

“Human rights activists including an elderly priest, who is known for promoting pluralism and tolerance are being harassed and targeted because they don’t agree with ideology of the government.”

Here are the other allegations labelled against the Indian government by other speakers during the webinar:

Matias Perttula:

  1. India has become a trouble spot for Christians after Narendra Modi took power in 2014. The cases of persecution against Christians have sky rocketed during the current government.
  2. He accused the state governments for not facilitating opportunities to Christians and instead, he said, the governments were discriminating the minority religious groups.
  3. He said that Christians were harassed under anti-conversion laws. “More often, the laws are misused to attack the Christians, and even before the legal proceedings can take place a mob of radical Hindu nationalists will attack the accused Christian.”
  4. He further alleged that alongside the anti-conversion laws and police support, the Hindutva groups pursue massive efforts of harassment, social discrimination and exclusion  and severe form of violence against religious minorities. He went on to say, “In fact police arrest the Christian victim rather than the Hindutva attackers.”
  5. “We celebrate the designation of India as a CPC by the USCIRF. The US must take action and hold Indian PM Modi, BJP and RSS accountable for persecuting Muslims, Christians and other minorities.”

Adding to Perttula’s allegations , Amnesty International USA’s director of Advocacy and Government Affairs, Joanne Lin made the following comments:

  1. Amnesty International India had to cease operations after the Indian government freezed its bank account. “The ban was in the wake of two major human rights reports that Amnesty India’s bank accounts were frozen. The first report covered Delhi riots and documented police complicity in the violence against Muslims.”
  2. The second report addressed the arbitrary detentions, internet suspension that persists in Kashmir one year after the state was stripped off its special status, she added.
  3. She further said, Indian government’s crackdown on civil society organisations violates the freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.
  4. Amnesty USA has urged secretary Pompeo and Deputy Secretary of State Biegun to press Indian authorities to lift the freeze on Amnesty India’s bank accounts.
  5. She further said, “Indian government must guarantee the civil society organisations to seek, receive and utilise funding freely and safely.”

Arjun Singh Sethi, an adjacent professor at Georgetown University Law Center, further made unfounded claims about CAA and NRC. Here is what he said:

  1. “CAA and NRC is a effort to render  India’s 200 million Muslims stateless. CAA openly discriminates against Muslims on the basis of their faith. It violates Indian constitution and International laws.”
  2. “During the Delhi pogrom, the Delhi police not only participated in the atrocity but also provided impunity and arrested people who protested against the government.”
  3. “Lynchings are so common in India that they are organised on social media and videos uploaded online.”
  4. “Hindu nationalism is rooted in the belief that India is a Hindu nation and that, Hindus who make up 80 percent of the population should enjoy a privilege status and exercise a majoritarian rule.
  5. “RSS is male only, volunteer, paramilitary organisation. Its earliest leaders, prior to World War II, referred to Christians and Muslims as “internal threat” and compared Indian Muslims with “Jews in Germany”.

Similarly, Salam Al Marayati, the co-founder of Muslim Public Affairs Council said:

  1. “The RSS is the world’s most Islamophobic organisation that is responsible for organizing violence against Muslims.”
  2. “This is about the threat about religious nationalism throughout the world. Religious nationalism is about ethnic supremacy.” Ethnic-religious nationalism is to “impose its views upon the rest of the people and therefore, intimidating, if not persecute, if not annihilate others and we have to deal with another genocide.”
  3. While Modi government started name calling USCIRF, but the Indian government have not refuted a single claim made in the USCIRF report.
  4. He alleged that Muslims are portrayed as foreigners, violent, seditious and deceptive.
  5. He also accused the Indian Supreme Court of appeasing PM Modi.
  6. Creating an analogy between a white supremacist group, he said, “if a white supremacist group forms a political party, wins election and forms government in the US, that nightmare is happening in India.”

Speaking at the end of the session, Roja Singh, a Dalit academician and president of Dalit Solidarity Forum, said:

  1. Indian nationalism is a phenomenon that has cleverly amalgamated politics, historical and sociological movements and building a nation, founded on religious consciousness.”
  2. “Hindutva terrorists terrorise religious minorities, Dalits, women and other vulnerable groups in India.”
  3. “There are forced reconversion happening under the BJP government in the form of Ghar Wapsi. Ghar wapsi has become their nationwide project.”
  4. She also said that to be a good Hindu, one essentially has to be atrocious.