USCIRF 2020 report by the U. S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has been highly critical of the Modi Government and the policies it is pursuing vis-a-vis the minorities. The Government of India through its Foreign Ministry Spokesperson has termed it as “biased”. Though these comments against India are not new, but on this occasion, its misrepresentation has reached new levels and observed that out of ten members of this Commission, three had recorded their dissent.
The 104 page report out of which three pages concern India, recommended India as a Country of Particular Concern on the allegation that since 2019, religious freedom conditions in India have experienced a drastic turn downward, with religious minorities under increasing assault the national government used its strengthened parliamentary majority to institute national level policies violating religious freedom across India, especially for Muslims.
The two individuals, one of whom is Aman Wadud, Human Rights Lawyer, Assam, who in is testimony about Citizenship Laws (NRC) affecting Muslims in Assam gave enough misleading, defamatory, contemptuous statements qua the Parliament and the Supreme Court of India. While referring to emergency provision comprised in Article 355 of the Constitution of India, he contemptuously derided that in the absence of any guidance given by the Constituent Assembly debates and prior case laws, the Supreme Court of India had equated illegal immigration with ‘external aggression’. He rued that the decision of Supreme Court was not consistent with the principles of legality and proportionality. The Foreigners Tribunals were depriving people of their nationality, resulting in large number of people being arbitrarily deprived of nationality and exposed to statelessness.
The other person to depose is one Bhupindar Singh, alleged Representative of Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar America Inc. to US Government and United Nations. This individual, in his written testimony qua “Genocide in Democracy-Case study of Assam and North East Delhi Muslims, the role played by RSS backed Citizenship Amendment Act, NRC and NPR, equally made enough misleading, defamatory, contemptuous statements qua the Parliament and the Supreme Court of India.
In 1991 and 1994 judgements the Supreme Court had upheld the Government’s power to expel foreigners as absolute and unlimited and there is no provision in the Constitution fettering its discretion. The extent of applicability of Art.21 to a foreigner, the Supreme Court held that the fundamental right of a foreigner is confined to Article 21 for life and liberty and does not include the right to reside and stay in this country, as mentioned in Article 19(1)(e), which is applicable only to the citizens of the country.
Bhupinder Singh in his testimony given on the letter head of his party, had the audacity to deride, defame, denigrate, both the RSS and the BJP, by calling the RSS as a paramilitary organization affiliated with the BJP, which, as per him, was explicitly modelled on the Nazis, and of which Modi had been a member since the age of 8 and that the RSS had indoctrinated and raised private military of thousands to impose their agenda, therefore, he viewed and linked the founding fathers of CAA, NPR and NRC coming from RSS. Relying on the petitions filed in the Supreme Court, he ranted that the Bill discriminated against Muslims and violated the right to equality enshrined in the Constitution.
Under the U. S. Law the question of treating foreigners was dealt with by their Supreme Court, which held that the “The power of exclusion of foreigners being an incident of sovereignty, the Government could exercise this right at any time in the interests of the country. The order of deportation is neither a punishment for crime, nor is a banishment. Under the British Law also, the right of every state to refuse an alien to enter that state, or to expel or deport from the state was unfettered if it considered his presence in the state opposed to its peace, order, and to its social or material interests.”
In “Sarbananda Sonowal vs Union Of India & Another” (2005), the Supreme Court, held that the word ‘aggression’ would include “invasion of unarmed men in totally unmanageable proportion if it were to not only impair the economic and political well-being of the receiving victim state. It also held that in the matter of identification of a foreigner and his deportation, he is not being deprived of his life or personal liberty.
Aman Wadud and Bhupinder Singh, in their deposition before an alien body and on a foreign soil, where a heap of lies, had distorted versions of the true facts and tarnished India’s image internationally. Would the right thinking members of the civil society and the powers that be in the Government and the Supreme Court of India, take a note and act ?