Administration showed poor judgement in reaching out to Modi but is justified in maintaining the policy over his visa ban
Washington DC, Friday, February 14, 2014
Coalition Against Genocide (CAG), a broad alliance dedicated to justice and accountability for the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 and to combating extremist ideologies that were its genesis, today expressed disappointment at the hype over the US administration’s outreach to infamous Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, banned from entering the US for his egregious violations of religious freedom, while criticizing the US Department for its ill-advised move. News reports indicate US ambassador to India, Ms. Nancy Powell met with Mr. Modi, as well as opposition leaders and non-government organizations in Gujarat.
The administration has maintained that the meeting between Ambassador Powell and Chief Minister Modi is a customary gesture extended to regional and opposition leaders. However, reaching out to Modi at a time when survivors are marking the twelfth anniversary of the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, is a demonstration of poor judgment and insensitivity on the part of the US State Department.
Mr. Modi is unlike other regional leaders, as he has the dubious distinction of being the only individual whose entry to the US was banned under the International Religious Freedom Act (the only time the Act has been invoked to institute a visa ban). Most people also understand that in the ensuing years since 2002, Mr. Modi has done more to rehabilitate his own image than to rehabilitate the countless survivors of the pogrom. CAG welcomed the State Department spokesperson Jan Psaki’s statement affirming that the US was effectively holding firm to its 2005 decision to deny Mr. Modi an entry visa.
“We do not believe Ms. Powell’s meeting with Modi serves any purpose other than providing the Modi camp some sound bites for use in the election campaign, ” said Dr. Shaik Ubaid, a CAG spokesperson. “The 2002 pogrom, extra-judicial killings and anti-conversion laws in Gujarat should give the international community an idea of the blighted vision that Mr. Modi and his ilk represent,” added Dr. Ubaid.
At the meeting with Ms. Powell, Mr. Modi’s posturing over the treatment of diplomat Devyani Khobragade is condemnable, given that hundreds of women were raped under his watch, before being burned alive during the Gujarat pogrom of 2002. “While we will continue to work towards accountability for the Gujarat pogrom, our broader struggle is to educate Americans about the dangers posed by the Hindu supremacist ideology and to uphold India’s secular ethos,” said Dr. Raja Swamy, also a CAG spokesperson.
The case against Mr. Modi has only been heard by a lower court, that ignored findings of national and international human rights organizations about state complicity. Numerous whistle-blowers, human rights activists and investigative journalists have documented evidence of Mr. Modi’s complicity in the pogrom. Ex-Deputy Inspector General of Police, D. G. Vanzara has gone on record stating that fake encounter killings in Gujarat were carried out with Mr. Modi’s knowledge and sanction.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has raised serious concerns on continued violations of religious freedom in Gujarat, and lack of any concrete steps to address the issues that led to the revocation of Mr. Modi’s visa in 2005. On the other hand religious minorities in the state of Gujarat have been effectively reduced to second class citizens in the 12 years following the 2002 pogrom.
The Coalition Against Genocide is composed of a diverse group of US-based organizations and individuals that have come together in response to the Gujarat genocide to demand accountability and justice.
1. US clarifies on Modi-Powell meet
3. US Commission on International Religious Freedom Report – 2013
4. Why DG Vanzara’s Letter Matters. And Why It Should Bother Narendra Modi
1. Dr. Shaik Ubaid
2. Dr. Raja Swamy