Monday, May 04, 2009

US Panel to visit India

Washington : For the first time, a US Congress-backed panel on religious freedom would visit India next month to gain perspective on Indian government's response to allegations of communal violence in Gujarat, Orissa and other parts of the country.

As a result, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) refrained from publishing the status of religious freedom in India in its annual report released on Friday.

However, the report does mention Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the only individual who has been denied an American visa under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), which bars entry into the US of those foreigners who are "responsible for or directly carried out, particularly severe violations of religious freedom".

It said the provision has been invoked only once in 2005, when Modi was denied entry to the US to attend the World Gujarati meet over his alleged involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The '2008 Status of Religious Freedom' report has placed 12 States including China, Pakistan, Myanmar and Saudi Arabia as countries of particular concern.