US’s religious freedom survey takes note of Article 370’s abrogation

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Srinagar: In the annual International Religious Freedom (IRF), the United States Department of State took note of the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and its bifurcation into two federally-governed territories.

The survey of the state of religious freedom across the world, which was submitted to the US Congress, also noted the protests against the Central-government’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) policies. It also discusses in detail mob lynchings and anti-conversion laws and related issues.

On J-K, the report noted that the Government of India sent thousands of additional government forces to the region and shut down internet and phone lines just before announcing the decision. “Muslim leaders criticized the move. The government’s actions sparked protests. Several politicians belonging to opposition parties, human right activists, journalists, and retired army personnel filed petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the government’s actions,” the report noted.

“Issues of religiously inspired mob violence, lynching and communal violence were sometimes denied or ignored by lawmakers,” according to NGOs and media outlets, the report says, reported The Hindu. “Some officials of Hindu-majority parties, including from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), made inflammatory public remarks or social media posts against minority communities.”

The report also takes note of the Babri Masjid decision by the Supreme Court and the challenges to the 2018 reversal of a ban on some women entering the Sabarimala temple.

Unveiling the report at the State Department on Thursday, Mike Pompeo listed countries for positive developments in religious freedom and negative examples (India was not cited in either list).

Earlier this month, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order which included a move to formally prioritise religious freedom in the U.S. foreign policy. The order also directed the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to allocate $50 million in its yearly budget towards programmes that sought to promote religious freedom.

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