NEW DELHI: India on Tuesday rejected sharp criticism from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), saying that the bipartisan US government panel's "misrepresentation has reached new levels".
"We reject the observations on India in the USCIRF Annual Report. Its biased and tendentious comments against India are not new. But on this occasion, its misrepresentation has reached new levels. It has not been able to carry its own Commissioners in its endeavour. We regard it as an organisation of particular concern and will treat it accordingly," Foreign Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said.
The comment came after the USCIRF categorised India as a "Country of Particular Concern" on religious freedom for the first time since 2004, according to media reports. India is among 14 countries to make it to the list, "meaning their governments engage in or tolerate 'systematic, ongoing, egregious' violations of religious freedom", the USCIRF said.
"We are seeing impunity for violence by non-state actors committed against religious minorities," USCIRF chair Tony Perkins said about India which has been particularly criticised in the report for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Other countries on the list include Pakistan, China and North Korea.
Established by the US Government in 1998 after the inaction of the International Religious Freedom Act, recommendations of USCIRF are non-binding to the State Department.
Traditionally, India does not recognise the view of the USCIRF and has not allowed members to visit the country.