India slams US govt. body, denies religious segregation of COVID-19 patients

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BY AARTI TIKOO SINGH
New Delhi, April 16 (IANS) The Centre has hit back at the US Commision on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for spreading false information on medical protocols followed by professionals to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic in India.
The USCIRF, an independent US federal government entity set up by Congress to monitor and report on religious freedom in the world, earlier this week shared a news report of the Guardian which accused India of targeting Muslims for coronavirus and segregating Muslims in hospitals.
Taking to Twitter, the Commission said that it “condemns the continued scapegoating and attacks of Muslims in India due to false rumors over the spread of coronavirus, often accompanied by dangerous rhetoric by politicians. This stigmatization can breed further discrimination and violence”,
In response to a media query about the USCIRF’s condemnation, the official spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs, Anurag Srivastava on Wednesday denied that there was any religious discrimination in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
“No segregation is being done in civil hospitals on the basis of religion, as clarified by the Gujarat Government,” the spokesperson said.
Slamming the US government body, Srivastava said: “As if its peremptory commentary on religious freedom in India is not enough, the USCIRF is now spreading misguided reports on the professional medical protocols followed to deal with spread of COVID19 in India.”
The government spokesperson said the USCIRF “must stop adding religious color” to India’s “national goal of fighting the pandemic” and stop distracting from larger efforts.
Apart from criticizing India on its Twitter page, the USCIRF had simultaneously issued an official statement against Pakistan warning against religious discrimination in its treatment of people affected by the pandemic.
The US body had reprimanded the Imran Khan government for denying food aid to Hindus and Christians in Pakistan amid the coronavirus pandemic and warned that it will trigger an additional crisis due to religious discrimination. Pakistan continues to be in the tier one of the USCIRF list of the countries whose record on religious freedom remains abysmal.

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