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ICC Note:

India has once again refused entry visa to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) even as reports of increased religious intolerance continues to grow. The denial comes only days after a letter from the U.S. Congress was sent to India’s Prime Minister expressing grave concerns about report of increased religious intolerance in India. Specifically, the letter from the U.S. Congress detailed the persecution faced by Christians in India’s Chhattisgarh state where over 50 villages have outright ban the practice of Christianity. Will India relent and allow USCIRF to finally enter India and finally examine the religious freedom situation there?

3/8/2016 India (Christian Examiner) – Indian authorities have refused entry to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) after members of Congress sent a letter to the Indian government asking it to improve its human rights record for religious minorities.

On March 3, the USCIRF announced its members would not be taking a long-planned trip to the one of the world’s most populous countries to “discuss and assess religious freedom” because India had not issued visas to the observers.

“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,” Robert P. George, chairman of the USCIRF, said in a statement.

“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.”

USCIRF’s delegation was scheduled to leave March 4 for its trip – one that had special importance given the number of reports coming out of the country of the Hindu majority’s oppression of religious minorities and the rise of Hindu nationalism. George said in his statement that conditions for religious freedom began deteriorating rapidly in India in 2014.

On Feb. 26, a bipartisan group of 34 U.S. congressmen and senators sent Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a letter reiterating the U.S.-India partnership, but requesting the government condemn acts of religious persecution carried out against minorities there.

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