|Date: 18 Mar 2005|
The US move to deny a visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi came on the back of a sustained campaign by various human rights groups known as the Coalition Against Genocide.
The coalition claimed Modi's visit would violate the International Religious Freedom Act.
They campaigned on Capitol Hill convincing Congressmen and Senators to write a letter against the visit and began a massive email campaign.
Though a Friends of Modi group also sprang up and tried to counter the campaign against Modi's visit, they have clearly failed.
Perhaps the decision to deny Narendra Modi a visa was sealed for the Americans by a letter written by Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Pitts and 21 others to the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
Both Democrats and Republicans had signed the letter.
In an emotional, outspoken and controversial letter, the Congressmen argued that: "Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his government have obstructed attempts to bring the perpetrators of the 2002 violence to justice.
"Furthermore the US State department has discussed the role of Chief Minister Modi and his government in promoting attitudes of racial supremacy, racial hatred and the legacy of Nazism."
And finally the letter which also talks about the Modi government harassing "Christian religious and educational institutions" ends by saying: "We are deeply concerned that a visit to the United States by Chief Minister Modi is in violation of the International Religious Freedom Act."
In the United States, the ground was prepared by groups like the Coalition Against Genocide - an umbrella group of 32 NGOs and the international lobbying group Human Rights Watch whose report is quoted in the letter.
"Mr Modi was clearly politically responsible for what happened at the time and even more so for the failure to bring people to justice afterwards," said Brad Adams, Asia Director, Human Rights Watch.
"He seems to be beyond the reach of Indian justice right now and this is a way to make him pay for his behaviour and let the people of Gujarat know that there are people who still care about this."
Modi was re-elected as Chief Minister in the assembly elections held in Gujarat after the violence of 2002.
Adams said being an elected representative did not mean that Modi could be absolved of his responsibility for what happened in March 2002.
But the campaign was really a transatlantic effort by joining hands with NGOs in Gujarat. Some of these NGOs had begun a signature campaign in January against American Express, one of the companies sponsoring an event where Modi was to speak.
For these activists, the decision was a major victory.
But ironically, those who have lobbied against Narendra Modi have also lobbied against US President George Bush whose government has now leapt to endorse their campaign.