New Delhi has denied entry visas to representatives of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom who had planned to investigate reports of persecution of Muslims and Christians following the release of its report that designates India as a “Country of Particular Concern.”
“We have … denied visas to USCIRF teams that have sought to visit India in connection with issues related to religious freedom,” India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar wrote to Member of Parliament Nishikant Dubey in a June 1 letter, according to Reuters.
The government, Jaishankar said, saw no grounds for a foreign entity to intervene in the state of affairs of India’s citizens.
“We see no locus standi for a foreign entity/government to pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights,” Raveesh Kumar, a spokesperson from India’s Ministry of External Affairs, had earlier told India Today. “India is a pluralistic society with a longstanding commitment to tolerance and inclusion.”
The bipartisan U.S. government advisory body told Reuters, “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, which would give it the opportunity to convey its views directly to USCIRF in a constructive dialogue.”
According to USCIRF, the religious intolerance and violence in India rose with the growth of Hindu nationalism under the current Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party government.
“While India’s constitution does protect an individual’s right to religious freedom, national security and public order are often used by the state to promote Hindu nationalism and oppress religious minorities,” the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern said.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Anugrah Kumar