America Still a distant dream for Modi


New Delhi, May 1: In a fresh setback to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, a United States commission has urged President Obama regime to maintain a ban on a visa to him even though he is most likely to run for prime minister in coming General Elections.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), in a wide-ranging annual report presented on Tuesday, said that Gujarat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi should be “inadmissible to the United States” due to “severe violations of religious freedom.”

“There is significant evidence linking him to the violence and the terrible events that took place in Gujarat and for this reason, a visa would not be appropriate,” Katrina Lantos Swett, chair of the Commission, has been quoted as saying to reporters on a conference call.

Modi was chief minister of Gujarat in 2002 when religious riots broke out that left 2,000 dead, most of them Muslims. One of his former ministers was jailed for life for instigating the killings.

For last two years, Modi has been trying to comfort foreign missions in India so that he could be acceptable to nations which have not allowed him to entre since the 2002 pogrom. However, the US State Department has refused to let Modi visit.

The Annual Report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom April 2013 says: Another IRFA (USCIRF was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA)) issue relevant to both the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) relates to the admission to the United States of aliens who were “responsible for or directly carried out…particularly severe violations of religious freedom.” IRFA bars the entry of such individuals. This provision has been invoked only once: in March 2005, it was used to exclude Chief Minister Narendra Modi of Gujarat state in India due to his complicity in the 2002 riots that resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,100 to 2,000 Muslims. USCIRF had urged such an action.

The report reommends: “USCIRF continues to urge the Departments of State and Homeland Security to develop a lookout list of aliens who are inadmissible to the United States on this basis. USCIRF wrote to Secretary Clinton in 2012 about the possibility that Chief Minister Modi might apply for a visa, to reiterate USCIRF concerns about his admissibility to the United States.”

Directly related to identifying and barring from entry such severe religious freedom violators, IRFA also requires the President to determine the specific officials responsible for violations of religious freedom engaged in or tolerated by governments…

The annual report covers period between January 31, 2012 and January 31, 2013.

The USCIRF, whose board is appointed by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders of both parties, advises the government on policy but does not have power over visa decisions.

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