Will Gujarat Welcome Intl Religious Freedom Commission?

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat and Orissa appear to be in the crosshairs of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) which is expected to travel to India next month. The USCIRF, while releasing its Annual Report 2009 in Washington on May 1, said it had kept the chapter on India on hold, and that it would release the India report only after its members travel to India for the very first time in June this year. The USCIRF is a statutory body created by the US Congress and funded by the US government.
For the past several years, this body has been trying to visit India to gauge different dimensions of `religious freedom’ in the country, but each time, it was denied permission by the Centre. In an unprecedented move, the UPA government has permitted USCIRF to officially visit India. The visit, two months from now, will have particular focus on Gujarat and Orissa — both non UPA states. Gujarat is in the dock for the carnage of 2002 when the USCIRF organised a public hearing in June 2002 in Washington. This time, with the chief minister engaged in a hectic political campaign, officials said they were not aware of the visit by the US team. The findings of the commission led to the denial of a US visa to Narendra Modi in 2005, which still stands. How then, does the government of Gujarat see the ensuing visit of the USCIRF? Will it roll out the red carpet, as it did for other foreign delegations during the Vibrant Gujarat investors’ summit in January 2009?
The USCIRF is likely to study the status of Muslims in the post 2002 scenario, in keeping with the recent findings of the SIT and directives from the Supreme Court. Also on the USCIRF radar is the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act 2003 which was made into a law from April 2008. Says Fr. Cedric Prakash, director of Prashant, an Ahmedabad-based Jesuit centre for human rights, justice and peace, “The development mask is fine but this will be a very minute examination.”
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Ahmedabad/Will-state-welcome-USCIRF/a\ rticleshow/4488916.cms


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