2016-03-04 14:07:00

U.S. religious freedom body denied visa to India

A delegation of the U.S. government agency charged with monitoring international religious freedom has been denied visas by the Indian government, the agency said on Thursday.  A three-member delegation from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) had planned make a weeklong visit starting Friday to meet with government officials, religious leaders and activists ‎in the cities of New Delhi and Mumbai.‎  ‎

"We are deeply disappointed by the Indian government's denial, in effect, of these visas," USCIRF chairman Robert  George said in a statement.  "As a pluralistic, non-sectarian, and democratic state, and a close partner of the United States, India should have the confidence to allow our visit," he said.

George said USCIRF had been able to travel to many countries, including those among the worst offenders of religious freedom, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, China, and Myanmar.   "One would expect that the Indian government would allow for more transparency than have these nations, and would welcome the opportunity to convey its views directly to USCIRF."  The commission provides policy recommendations to the U.S. administration and Congress. It says it ‎has been prevented from visiting India two other times.  

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