US Congress moved to designate India ‘country of particular concern’

Washington, June 23 (KMS): US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives, condemning violations of human rights and religious freedom in India and calling for Secretary of State Antony Blinken to designate India as a “country of particular concern”.

As emerged on Thursday, the resolution, co-sponsored by lawmakers Rashida Talib and Juan Vargas, was submitted on Tuesday, according to the US Congress website. It based its arguments to declare India as a country of particular concern on the conclusions and findings of a report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

The text of the resolution, available on the US Congress website, highlighted that the USCIRF had called for designating India as a country of particular concern for 3 consecutive years.

Citing the USCIRF’s 2022 annual report, the resolution stated that in 2021, “the Indian government escalated its promotion and enforcement of policies — including those promoting a Hindu-nationalist agenda — that negatively affect Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and other religious minorities”.

The resolution has little chance of being passed but is among a series of statements about India’s domestic turmoil over mainly religious issues.

A week later, a US Congressional hearing will be held on Islamophobia in which India is expected to figure prominently in the wake of blasphemous on the Prophet (pbuh) by BJP leaders.

Last week, the US State Department spokesperson Ned Price had said Washington had condemned the remarks when asked a question on “hate crimes’’ India.

On June 2, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussein had commented on the state of religious freedom in India. In late April, a report by the USCIRF had recommended that India be blacklisted on human rights concerns.

Moved by Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who had visited AJK and the Line of Control (LoC)last month, the US Congress resolution said “Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, Adivasis, and other religious and cultural minorities’’ are being targeted in India.

Its co-sponsors are Rashida Tlaib, James McGovern and Juan Vargas.

Omar and Tlaib are among the three Muslims in the US Congress. McGovern is the Co-Chair of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission which will hold the hearing on global islamophobia on June 30.

Omar is a member of this Commission and had last month introduced and got passed a resolution in the US Congress which wanted the State Department to set up a special office to tackle Islamophobia. The resolution is now in the US Senate and is unlikely to be passed as it requires 60 votes. But as a matter of optics, the point was made.

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