Trump will raise issue of religious freedom with Modi: Official

Washington, February 23 (KMS): US President Donald Trump will raise the issue of religious freedom in India during his meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a senior administration official said.

Modi government has faced large scale-protests at home and criticism abroad for abrogating Kashmir’s special status and enacting a controversial citizenship law that is seen as discriminating against Muslims.

President Trump, who is due in India tomorrow, will talk about the two countries’ shared traditions of democracy and religious freedom, the senior administration official said in a conference call on Friday ahead of the two-day trip.

“He will raise these issues, particularly the religious freedom issue, which is extremely important to this administration,” the official said.

“And I think that the President will talk about these issues in his meetings with Prime Minister Modi and note that the world is looking to India to continue to uphold its democratic traditions, respect for religious minorities,” the official said.

Four US senators wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this month, saying Modi’s steps in Kashmir and the citizenship laws were troubling and “threaten the rights of certain religious minorities and the secular character of the state.”

The bipartisan group of Senators Lindsey Graham, Todd Young, Chris Van Hollen and Dick Durbin asked the State Department for information in 30 days about the number of political detainees in Kashmir, restrictions on the Internet and cell phone service, and access for foreign diplomats, journalists and observers.

They also expressed concern over the crackdown on protesters opposing the citizenship law, which lays out a path to Indian nationality for six religious groups from neighbouring countries including Hindus, Sikhs and Christians, but not Muslims.

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