Two top members of a US Congress constituted commission on religious freedom have expressed sadness over nomination of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),terming him as the “poster boy” of India’s failure to punish the violent.
“It was another son of Gujarat,Mahatma Gandhi,who once offered a broad,tolerant vision for the country and its multi-religious society,” wrote Katrina Lantos Swett and Mary Ann Glendon,in a special op-ed Special to CNN on Tuesday.
“So,as 2014 draws nigh,whose vision will be embraced? Which India will prevail – that of religious freedom or religious intolerance? Time will tell,” they wrote.
While Swett is Vice Chairwoman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF),Glendon is a USCIRF Commissioner. The op-ed “The two faces of India” was published on the blog of the popular CNN program “Global Public Square”,which is run by eminent Indian American Fareed Zakaria.
“The poster child for India’s failure to punish the violent remains Narendra Modi,who is Gujarat’s chief minister – a post he held during the 2002 riots,” they wrote.
“Gujarat’s high court rapped the Modi administration for inaction and ordered compensation forreligious structures that suffered damage. In 2005,the US State Department agreed with the recommendation of USCIRF and others to revoke Modi’s visa,” they said.
“True,in April 2012,the highest court’s Special Investigative Team failed to prove guilt against Modi and others in a case involving the deaths of nearly 70 people. But he remains implicated in other Gujarat-associated cases that have yet to be investigated or adjudicated,” the op-ed said.
“That is why,more recently,65 members of India’s parliament wrote to President Barack Obama,requesting that he not issue Modi a visa. Sadly,despite all this,Gujarat’s most controversial resident is the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party candidate in India’s 2014 prime ministerial election,” Swett and Glendon wrote.
It was at the recommendation of USCIRF that the then Bush Administration had revoked the US visa of Modi,based on the allegation about his involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riots. USCIRF has maintained that the Obama Administration should continue the same policy.
Sources said Ashish Khetan will be the vice-chairman of the commission.