US panel for continued visa ban on Modi

USCIRF says Modi only individual against whom provisions of US law were invoked to bar his entry.

Written by Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Published:May 2, 2013 1:00 am

The United States Commission on International Religious Fre-edom (USCIRF) has said in its latest annual report that the US should continue to maintain a visa ban on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The USCIRF has said that Modi is the only individual against whom the provisions of an American law were invoked to bar him from entering the country,and that the commission in November last year again wrote to the then Secretary of State,Hillary Clinton,reiterating Modi should not be issued a visa.

The report takes note of suspicions among the Muslim community that jailed former Cabinet minister Maya Kodnani “was the ‘fall guy’ for Modi”,that the Gujarat High Court in February 2012 “strongly chastised the Gujarat government and Modi for ‘inaction and negligence’ during the [2002 violence,” and “Gujarat police have closed a large number of cases,citing the unavailability of witnesses”.

The report,submitted to US President Barack Obama,Secretary of State John Kerry and the respective heads of the Senate and House of Representatives on April 30,said: “USCIRF continues to urge the Departments of State and Homeland Security to develop a lookout list of aliens who are inadmissible to the US on this basis. USCIRF wrote to Secretary Clinton in 2012 about the possibility that CM Modi might apply for a visa,to reiterate USCIRF concerns about his admissibility to the US.”

In an appendix to the report,it says the letter to Clinton said “the possible US visa application by Modi… be denied until there is full transparency into violence in 2002”.

The US International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (or IRFA) bars entry of aliens “responsible for or directly carried out particularly severe violations of religious freedom”. “This provision has been invoked only once: in March 2005,it was used to exclude CM 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 commission noted.

“In the last two years approximately 100 people have been convicted of crimes,with punishments ranging from minor monetary fines to life imprisonment,and over 100 individuals have been acquitted because of lack of evidence,witnesses refusing to testify or the death of witnesses,” it said.

The USCIRF annual report also notes developments in cases concerning the 2002 riots.

For the 2013 Annual Report,USCIRF has recommended that the Secretary of State to re-designate eight countries as countries of particular concern (CPCs): Burma,China,Eritrea,Iran,North Korea,Saudi Arabia,Sudan and Uzbekistan.

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