Sep 20


Sep 20th 9:30am - Sep 20th 11:00am


U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Hearing

Advancing Religious Freedom within the U.S. - India Bilateral Relationship

Wednesday, September 20, 2023
9:30 AM – 11:00 AM ET
216 Hart Senate Office Building

Hearing Transcript

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) hosted a hearing on religious freedom in India and how the U.S. government can work with the Indian government to address violations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Washington, D.C. reflects the close bilateral relationship between the United States and India. However, over the last decade, the Indian government has enacted and enforced discriminatory policies targeting religious minorities, including anti-conversion laws, cow slaughter laws, legislation granting citizenship preferences based on religion, and restrictions on foreign funding for civil society organizations. Recent trends include the eruption of violence between Hindus and Muslims in Haryana in July and targeted attacks against Christian and Jewish minorities in Manipur, highlighting the need for new strategies to mitigate violence against religious minorities in India.

Since 2020, USCIRF has recommended that the U.S. Department of State designate India as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for its systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom. Witnesses discussed the Indian government’s legal framework and enforcement of discriminatory policies, explained current religious freedom conditions, and offered policy options for the United States to work with India to combat abuses of religious freedom and related human rights in the country.

Opening Remarks

Panel I

  • Fernand de Varennes, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues
    Written Testimony

Panel II

  • Tariq Ahmad, Foreign Law Specialist, Law Library of Congress
    Written Testimony
  • Sarah Yager, Washington Director, Human Rights Watch
    Written Testimony
  • Sunita Viswanath, Executive Director, Hindus for Human Rights; and representing Dalit Solidarity Forum, Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America, Indian American Muslim Council, India Civil Watch International, and New York State Council of Churches
    Written Testimony
  • Irfan Nooruddin, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani Professor of Indian Politics, Georgetown University
    Written Testimony

Witness Biographies

Submitted for the Record

Statement from Hindus for Human Rights

Statement from The Sikh Coalition

Statement by John Newton, Aid to the Church in Need International

This hearing is open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the public, and the media. The hearing will be livestreamed, and the video recording will be posted on the Commission website. Members of the media can email [email protected] for any questions or to schedule an interview. For any additional questions, please email Danielle Ashbahian at [email protected].