US lawmaker seeks denial of visa to Modi

July 13th, 2008 - 9:20 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Narendra Modi
By Arun Kumar
Washington, July 13 (IANS) A US lawmaker has lent her voice to demands for denying an entry visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for his alleged role in the 2002 communal violence in the state. “Granting a visa to Narendra Modi would be contradictory to international law,” Democratic legislator Betty McCollum said in a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

In light of Modi’s long documented record of alleged violations of religious freedom, which are in breach of the International Religious Freedom Act, it “would only serve to validate the chief minister’s abhorrent policies and actions against Indian Muslims and Christian pastors and priests”, she said.

McCollum serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State Department and Foreign Operations and the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs.

Meanwhile, the Advocates for Human Rights has also written to Rice, asking her not to issue Modi a US visa.

“Denying Modi a visa to enter the United States not only will uphold the law but will send the important message that Modi’s reprehensible statements, policies and actions are abhorrent to the laws and values of the United States,” it said.

Last week a US government panel too asked the State Department to reaffirm its decision to deny a tourist visa to Modi.

“We have not seen changes that would warrant a policy reversal,” Felice D. Gaer, chairman of the Commission on International Religious Freedom, said urging the State Department to announce Modi’s ineligibility for a visa under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader who has been invited to attend a conference in New Jersey in August celebrating Gujarati culture, has said he would not apply for visa until he was assured that his application will not be turned down.

Modi was earlier denied entry into the US to attend the same conference in 2002 after his visa was revoked under the INA, which prohibits foreign government officials who are “responsible for severe violations of religious freedom” from obtaining US visas.

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