The US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has called upon India to release “prisoner of conscience” protesting controversial anti-Muslim law during the time of the Covid-19 crisis.
The official tweet made by the USCIRF on Thursday urged the government of Modi to release the prisoners. The tweet said that at the time of crisis due to pandemic India should not target the people who were merely protesting for a cause because it is their democratic right.
The arrest of Safoora Zargar was explicitly mentioned by the US Commission. Safoora Zargar a 27-year-old woman, who is a research scholar from India’s Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University was taken into custody on April 10 by Delhi police for protesting against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). She was also a media coordinator of the Jamia Coordination Committee and was charged under the draconian anti-terror law named Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
In the last December, the Government passed the controversial law thus leading to nationwide protests majorly led by Muslim women. Protesters and activists say the CAA coupled with a national citizenship register will lead to the disenfranchisement of millions of Muslims.
The tweet further said that amidst the COVID-19, there are reports claiming that Muslim activists who were protesting the CAA are being arrested by the Indian Government, which includes a pregnant woman Safoora Zargar as well.
The negative trend will continue in 2020
Earlier USCIRF released its annual report 2020, which accused the majority ruling party of India- Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) for introducing policies that violate the freedom of religion, especially for Muslims. In a follow-up tweet, the USCIRF said that this negative trend in India will, unfortunately, continue in 2020.
In the annual report, the panel has mentioned about NPR, including CAA as well. North-East Delhi riots have also been mentioned in the report along with the remark Amit Shah made for migrants calling them as termites.
The USCIRF earlier posted on Twitter quoting its Vice-Chair Nadine Maenza, “Perhaps the steepest, and most alarming, deterioration in religious freedom conditions was in #India, the largest democracy in the world.”
As per the reports, during demonstrations of the CAA protest, at least 78 people were killed.