US state body urges India to release Muslim activists protesting CAA law

During Covid-19 crisis, India should be releasing prisoners of conscience, says USCIRF

News Desk May 14, 2020
Demonstrators shout slogans during a protest against a new citizenship law, in Ahmedabad, India, December 19, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

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 Covid-19 crisis.

"At this time, #India should be releasing prisoners of conscience, not targeting those practicing their democratic right to protest," the USCIRF urged the Modi government in a tweet from its official handle on Thursday.

The US commission also specifically mentioned the arrest of Safoora Zargar, 27, a research scholar from India's Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) university, who was taken into custody on April 10 by Delhi police for protesting against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The passage of the controversial law last December sparked nationwide protests largely 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.

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"During #COVID19 crisis, there are reports #India govt is arresting Muslim activists protesting the #CAA, including Safoora Zargar who is pregnant," it added.

The US agency on religious freedom also mentioned its annual report published last month which had recommended that India be designated a Country of Particular Concern for its "systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom" during 2019.

"Unfortunately, this negative trend has continued into 2020," the USCIRF said in a follow-up tweet.

According to reports, at least 78 people were killed in demonstrations triggered by the controversial law across the country, a large number of them in a part of Delhi in clashes between Hindus and Muslims.

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