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India Denies Visas to US Religious Freedom Body - Commission

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The USCIRF delegation was scheduled to travel to India on March 4 with support of the US State Department and the US Embassy in New Delhi.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Indian government has denied visas to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) ahead of a planned visit to the country to discuss religious freedom conditions in the country, USCIRF said in a statement.

"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….One would expect that the Indian government would allow for more transparency," USCIRF Chairman Robert P. George was quoted as saying in the statement.

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George added that USCIRF was previously able to visit many countries where conditions of religious freedom were dire, including Vietnam, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China and Burma.

India-US relations have suffered some setbacks in recent years, including a 2013 row over a junior Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, who was arrested and strip-searched in New York, for visa fraud and paying less than the minimum wage to her housekeeper. It caused uproar in India and led to the resignation of the US ambassador to New Delhi in 2014. Washington also denied a request for a US visa from Narendra Modi in 2005, before he was elected prime minister in May 2014.

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