New Delhi(PTI): India on Thursday downplayed a US Congressional report on International Religious Freedom 2014…
NEW DELHI(PTI): India has not issued visas to a delegation of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that was planning to travel on Friday. For the past several years, India has turned down the request for visas for such annual visits by the USCIRF. “The goal of the Commission’s trip was to discuss and assess religious freedom conditions in that nation,” the USIRF said in a release.
“We are deeply disappointed by the Indian government’s denial, in effect, of these visas. 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. USCIRF has been able to travel to many countries, including those that are among the worst offenders of religious freedom, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, China, and Burma. 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,” said Robert P. George, Chairman of USCIRF, a bipartisan body.
“USCIRF will continue to pursue a visit to India, given the ongoing reports from religious communities, civil society groups, and NGOs that the conditions for religious freedom in India have been deteriorating since 2014,” Mr George said.
Last year’s report
The annual report of USRIF documents and categorises countries based on their religious freedom record. In 2015, the report had criticised India and had named BJP and affiliated bodies.
“Incidents of religiously-motivated and communal violence reportedly have increased for three consecutive years. The states of Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chattisgarhi, Gujarat, Odisha, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan tend to have the greatest number of religiously-motivated attacks and communal violence incidents. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and religious leaders, including from the Muslim, Christian, and Sikh communities, attributed the initial increase to religiously-divisive campaigning in advance of the country’s 2014 general election.