|Date: 18 Mar 2005|
Source: Times of India
NEW DELHI: In a severe rebuke to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the United States has denied him entry to America.
Taking a strong stand against the senior BJP leader and Hindutva icon, the US Consular division on Friday denied him a "diplomatic visa", apparently holding him responsible for the communal riots in Gujarat in 2002 which claimed over 2000 lives.
In addition, his tourist/business visa which was already granted has also been revoked under a section of US Immigration and Nationality Act.
A US embassy spokesman confirmed that the "Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi had applied for but was denied diplomatic visa under 214 (b) of Immigration and Nationality Act because he was not coming for a purpose that qualify for a diplomatic visa."
When pointed out that Modi was already holding a tourist-cum-business visa, the spokesman said Modi's "existing tourist/business visa has been revoked under Section 212 (a)(2)(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act."
The Section makes any foreign government official who was responsible or "directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religions freedom" ineligible for the visa.
US officials argued that the State Department's stand on Gujarat riots were based largely on the reports of India's National Human Rights Commission findings and other independent Indian sources.
Its conclusions on Gujarat riots and the role of the then BJP government, state police, and other official organs as well as Chief Minister Narendra Modi, are all contained in detail in the US State Department's annual reports on human rights and religious freedom.
Officials confirmed that with the denial of his visa, Modi now has no chance of entering the United States, where he has a large number of right-wing Gujarati following.
Outrage in US
Liberal groups, with active support from several US Congressmen have been carrying out an e-mail campaign against Modi's visit to the US.
On Tuesday John Conyers Jr, Democrat Congressman from Michigan, had moved a resolution in the House of Representatives condemning Modi's conduct during the riots.
Modi was to leave for the US on Sunday, according to his original plan.
Congressman Conyers said the US State Department "has discussed the role of Modi and his government in promoting attitudes of racial supremacy, racial hatred, and the legacy of Nazism through his government's support of school textbooks in which Nazism is glorified."
Conyers' resolution in the House says Modi revised school textbooks to describe the "charismatic personality of Hitler the Supremo", while failing to acknowledge the Nazi extermination policies, the concentration camps, and the religious persecution.
"Such conduct by such a high-ranking foreign official undermines internationally-recognised fundamental rights and the directives of Congress under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998," the resolution said.
There are other active campaigns against Modi in the US by liberal groups against Modi.
Though Modi had emerged as a Hindutva icon and a star campaigner for BJP immediately after the riots, in recent times BJP state units in Bihar, Haryana and Jharkhand have been wary of getting him to campaign for them in the state Assembly elections.
Senior BJP leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani have admitted that the riots was a blot in six-year tenure of National Democratic Alliance government.
In a recent interview, KR Narayanan, who was then the President, has accused Vajpayee government of blocking his efforts and requests to restore peace and normalcy in Gujarat.