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India Blocks Visit by US Commission on Religious Freedom


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Members of the U.S. Religious Freedom Commission say India has blocked their visit to the country for the third time.

A three-member delegation of the commission was scheduled to visit India next week to advise government officials and leaders on how to respond to a crisis of religious freedom abuses in the country.

India refused to grant the commission members visas to enter the country.

The commission's annual report says India's Christian, Muslim, and Sikh minorities are experiencing increased persecution and violence by Hindu extremists.

"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-secarian and democratic state -- and a close partner of the United States -- India should have the confidence to allow our visit."

USCIRF, he said, has traveled to countries considered serious offenders of religious freedom, including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, among others.

"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 the USCIRF," George said.

A statement Friday posted by the India's embassy in Washington said the three-member team wasn't qualified to pass judgment or to comment on Indian citizens "constitutionally protected rights."

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