NEW DELHI: Driving home the point of India’s pluralism and coexistence of religions, US Secretary of State John Kerry will be heading to places of worship of three different religions on a single street.
The inclusion of the visit to a temple, a mosque and a gurdwara in the itinerary of Kerry has come in the backdrop of Washington expressing concern at “growing religious intolerance” in India. In his earlier schedule, Kerry was to visit Sheesh Ganj Gurdwara, followed by Gauri Shankar Temple at Chandni Chowk and Jama Masjid. It was after these visits that Kerry was scheduled to meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
However, in the revised schedule, the visit to the religious sites were omitted. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) refused to comment on the change of itinerary. The US Embassy in India clarified that the visits have not been cancelled rather rescheduled, but the new plan is yet to be made public. Kerry’s visit has come amidst the growing tensions between India and Pakistan and the absence of Islamabad in his South Asia visit schedule is conspicuous. Kerry is coming to New Delhi from Dhaka. India is likely to take up the issue of terrorism emanating from Pakistan with the US during the dialogue with Kerry, who has come for the second Indo-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (S&CD).