USCIRF can succeed in South Asia if registers Secularism-NGOs starting from India for moving High Courts / SCI. By Hem Raj Jain
11 Dec 2019
This refers to press release of the ‘US Commission on International Religious Freedom’ (USCIRF) about Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) in India, which was passed by Lower House of the Parliament on December, 9 (https://www.uscirf.gov/news-room/press-releases-statements/uscirf-raises-serious-concerns-and-eyes-sanctions ). The USCIRF objects to this CAB because it enshrines a pathway to citizenship for immigrants that specifically excludes Muslims, setting a legal criterion for citizenship based on religion. But this lament of the USCIRF will be ineffective & meaningless unless the USCIRF does the following: -
(1)- First and foremost the USCIRF should understand that though secularism in South Asia is not firmly rooted but the record of Hindu majority India is not as bad as of Muslim countries Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. This is evident from the fact that the population of Muslims in India before partition was less than 15 % and has now increased to about 15 % in India but the population of Hindus have been reduced by about 20 % in Pakistan and Bangladesh since partition. Moreover, India is a constitutionally secular democracy but secularism has been compromised in India mainly due the fear of Muslims to file various writ petitions in Courts of India as mentioned at https://www.pakistanchristianpost.com/opinion-details/3316
(2)- Even after legally objectionable Babri-Masjid verdict by Supreme Court of India (SCI) on November 2019 the Indian Muslims out of fear are not filing review petition properly (as mentioned at https://www.pakistanchristianpost.com/opinion-details/3488 )
(3)- Similarly out of fear the Kashmiri Muslims are not filing writ petitions in J&K high Court and SCI and even are not giving memorandum to President of India as mentioned at https://www.alwihdainfo.com/Kashmiris-should-protest-at-Jantar-Mantar-against-President-about-Article-143-1-for-restoring-their-human-rights_a77642.html
(4)- Regarding ‘National Register for Citizens’ (NRC) the USCIRF rightly fears that the Indian government is creating a religious test for Indian citizenship that would strip citizenship from millions of Muslims. But the USCIRF is not realizing that there are not merely 2 million Bangladeshi illegal immigrants (mostly Muslims) in India (as was claimed by SCI-monitored process for making NRC in Assam) but about 80 million (mostly Hindu) illegal immigrants are there in India which is the result of said reduction of about 20 % Hindu population (due to religious persecution) in Bangladesh & Pakistan. But communal Government of India (GoI) is foolishly talking about only Muslim illegal immigrants in India without realizing that it has been giving license to Bangladesh and Pakistan to drive out Hindus from these countries out of religious persecution and which the USCIRF is mandated to stop because it is further making the lives of minorities miserable in these Muslim countries.
(5)- By statute, the USCIRF monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief and makes policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress where the USCIRF - Issues an annual report, Engages Congress, Engages the Executive Branch, Documents religious freedom conditions abroad, Issues reports with recommendations, press releases, opeds, and journal articles, Engages multilaterally. But the USCIRF has not succeed in this objective especially in Asia because the USCIRF has not supported the NGOs at ground level who will fight for secularism in Asia.
(6)- If the USCIRF is really interested in ensuring religious freedom in Asia (starting from South Asia) then it should first start from India by acknowledging and registering Secularism-NGOs in India which will work at ground level for protecting secularism in India. For example, to start with by filing said writ petitions in J&K High Court, Assam High Court and SCI about Kashmir problem, NRC for entire India (irrespective of religion) and about Babri-Masjid.
(7)- The USCIRF might say that such Indian NGOs can otherwise also file these writ petitions in Indian Courts but then the USCIRF would not be knowing that how much fear the communal forces generate in South Asia (extreme in Muslim countries but considerable in India too). The registration of these Indian Secularism-NGOs at the USCIRF will go a long way in imparting clout (because the USA is a supreme world power and the committed leader of free-world) to these Secularism-NGOs which will be a guarantee for the success of these Secularism-NGOs in India for realizing the objectives of the USCIRF.
Therefore, the USCIRF should immediately declare that it will recognize & register the Secularism-NGOs (registered in India) in the interest of effectively realizing the objectives of the USCIRF of ensuring religious freedom across the World staring from India.