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India on US Watch List for Religious Freedom

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent panel mandated by the congress, has put India on its watch list of countries where religious liberty could be under a threat. Reacting to the development India on Thursday described the action as “regrettable”.

The USCIRF, which makes recommendations to the US government, in a statement on Wednesday said that India’s response to attacks on Christians in Orissa – 2008 and against Muslims in Gujarat – 2002 was “largely inadequate.”

The panel had recommended that India be placed on the more serious “countries of particular concern” list after the 2002 riots, but it was removed in 2005.

“In both Orissa and Gujarat, court convictions have been infrequent, perpetrators rarely brought to justice and thousands of people remain displaced,” noted the statement.

Dubbing the action as regrettable, India on Thursday said described the action as as “regrettable”.

“India, a country of 1.1 billion people, is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society……Abberrations, if any, are dealt with promptly within our legal framework under the watchful eye of an independent judiciary and a vigilant media,” External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said.

It is “”regrettable”, he said in response to queries over the USCIRF’s action.

The other countries currently on the list are Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Laos, the Russian Federation, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Venezuela.

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