'Biased, inaccurate': India slams US religious panel report on violations

India on Saturday dismissed as ‘biased and inaccurate’ comments by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expressing concern over the government’s action against critics and calling for the country for violations of religious freedom.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi accused the USCIRF of misrepresenting facts in its statements and reports in ‘pursuance of its motivated agenda’.

"We have seen the biased and inaccurate comments on India by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). These comments reflect a severe lack of understanding of India and its constitutional framework, its plurality and its democratic ethos," Bagchi said in a brief statement.

"Regrettably, USCIRF continues to misrepresent facts time and again in its statements and reports in pursuance of its motivated agenda. Such actions only serve to strengthen concerns about the credibility and objectivity of the organisation," he added.

Early on Saturday, the USCIRF’s official Twitter handle had quoted its commissioner David Curry as saying the commission is ‘concerned about the Indian government’s continued repression of critical voices – especially religious minorities and those reporting on and advocating for them’.

The Twitter handle also quoted USCIRF commissioner Stephen Schneck as saying: "Human rights advocates, journalists, activists, and faith leaders in #India face harassment for speaking out and reporting religious freedom conditions. This is not reflective of a country with a history of democracy."

Another tweet said: "USCIRF recommends #India be designated as a CPC [country of particular concern] for its systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, including the repression of critical voices speaking out against these violations."