The US embassy has denied the allegation levelled by BJP MP Virendra Singh Mast that he was asked by embassy officials to remove his ‘pagdi’ or headgear for the visa documentation.
“The United States does not discriminate on the basis of religion nor do we forbid religious dress,” the embassy said in a statement.
“During the visa application process the United States Embassy in New Delhi does not ask individuals to remove turbans or other religious dress. Nor do we ask individuals to remove their turbans for photos submitted in the visa application process,” it added.
Upset at being asked to remove his pagdi, Mast, a Rajput from Uttar Pradesh, turned down the visa by the US Embassy and returned to his constituency Bhadohi.
‘Mast’, a well known agriculturist by profession who is always seen in a traditional saffron pagdi, was invited by the US Embassy to visit the country and give a lecture on Indian agriculture techniques.
However, the BJP MP accused the embassy of telling a lie over the issue.
“I was certainly asked to remove my ‘pagdi’. They are lying,” Mast told IANS.
The embassy said that each year the US mission in India issues over a million visas for India citizens of all religions and ethnic groups to visit, work in, or study in the United States and that the number has been increasing every year.