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India rejects USCIRF report on religious freedom, minorities, calls it ‘biased and tendentious’

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New MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava | Twitter
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New Delhi: India on Tuesday rejected its criticism by a US commission on religious freedom, terming its observations on condition of minorities and religious freedom as “biased and tendentious”.

In the 2020 edition of its annual report on International Religious Freedom, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) alleged that religious freedom in India witnessed a drastic downward turn.

It also alleged that the religious minorities were under increasing assault in India

“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,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.

“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,” he said, responding to a query on observations by the USCIRF.

The USCIRF asked the State Department to designate 14 nations, including India, as “countries of particular concern”, alleging that religious minorities are under increasing assault in these nations.

These include nine countries that the State Department designated as CPCs in December 2019 – Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan – as well as five others – India, Nigeria, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam, the USCIRF said.

In its report, the watchdog alleged that in 2019, the national government in India used its strengthened parliamentary majority to institute national-level policies violating religious freedom across the country, especially for Muslims.

“Most notably, it enacted the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which provides a fast track to Indian citizenship for non-Muslim migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan already residing in India,” it alleged.


Also read: As Gulf calls for an ‘India without Islamophobia,’ Jaishankar works the phones


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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay


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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


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‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


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