|Date: 3 Jul 2008|
Source: Indian Express
New Delhi, July 2: In a major embarrassment to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, a group of Indian-American organisations has written to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging her not to allow Modi to enter the United States.
The Gujarat CM has been invited to be the chief guest at the second World Gujarati Conference, called ‘Chaalo Gujarat’, a major three-day event from August 29 to 31, organised by the Association of Indian Americans of North America (AIANA) to “reconnect the younger generation with their place of origin”. Thirty five thousand people from India and the Gujarati diaspora are expected to attend, with prominent invitees including Mukesh and Anil Ambani, technocrat Sam Pitroda, economist Jagdish Bhagwati, singer Pankaj Udhas and cricketers Irfan Pathan and Parthiv Patel.
However, the letter, written under the banner of the Coalition Against Genocide (CAG) and supported by 25 civil society organisations, alleges that Modi’s coming to the US is “to rally the support base among Indian diaspora communities and raise international legitimacy and standing,” adding that “it would be dangerous at this juncture of Indian political process to give Mr Modi that long denied and much-coveted window.”
The missive goes on to outline how “minority communities in his state continue to face systematic human rights violations,” and holds Modi responsible for the deaths of over 2,000 Muslims and the displacement of 2,00,000 more. Six years after the “state sponsored violence,” there have been very few convictions and Muslims continue to suffer economic and social boycott, reminds the letter.
It also mentions the anti-conversion law enacted by Gujarat making it difficult for any Hindu to convert to any other religion.
Meanwhile, a source from Modi’s office told The Indian Express that the Chief Minister will not apply for a visa until and unless the US reviews his previous application. Modi was denied a US visa in 2005 after his allegedly biased handling of the communal violence in Gujarat in 2002. The US State Department had also revoked his tourist visa then.
Nonetheless, it is understood that the Gujarat CM is planning to address the function through video conferencing or live telecast.