"Mahatma Gandhi's legacy is an inspiration for the US too, said the White House, while a bipartisan commission praised the president for his "timely comments" and the State Department said it encouraged all governments around the world to respect religious freedom.

"What will it take for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak out about the mounting violence against India's religious minorities?" asked the New York Times on Saturday in an editorial titled "Modi's Dangerous Silence."

"Attacks at Christian places of worship have prompted no response from the man elected to represent and to protect all of India's citizens," said the influential daily.

"Nor has he addressed the mass conversion to Hinduism of Christians and Muslims who have been coerced or promised money," it said.

"Modi's continued silence before such troubling intolerance increasingly gives the impression that he either cannot or does not wish to control the fringe elements of the Hindu nationalist right," the Times suggested.

Citing Obama's speech in New Delhi last month that "India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along the lines of religious faith," it said.

"Modi needs to break his deafening silence on religious intolerance," it added.

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