Indian Official Denied U.S. Entry for Religious Violations

A high-level official from the state of Gujarat in India has been denied entry to the United States for “severe violations of religious freedom.”

Minister Narendra Modi, was scheduled to arrive in New York this past weekend to speak at an Indian American economic development event.

However, U.S. Ambassador to India David Mulford said that under the Chief Minister’s watch there had been “a comprehensive failure on the part of the state government to control the persistent violation of rights of life, liberty, equality, and dignity of the people of the state.”

Spokesman for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, Navtej Sarna, said that the Indian government expressed "regret" that the U.S. government had not reconsidered an appeal to overturn the decision.

He added that the U.S. "disregarded the fact of the Constitutional position of the chief minister of Gujarat as a democratically elected leader and appears to be based on selective judgment."

Christian groups approved of the visa denial. Samson Christian, the joint secretary of the All India Christian Council said, “We highly appreciate and congratulate the US government for taking a wise and strong decision. "

The Federation of Indian American Christian organizations of North America said in a statement that, "This action by the US administration is a recognition of Modi's involvement in February 2002 killings and his continued policies of harassment of religious minorities in Gujarat.”

In February 2002, after a train fire killed 58 Hindus, hundreds of Muslims were killed in Gujarat by Hindus. Many mosques and Muslim-owned buildings were destroyed. Nearly 2,000 Muslims died.

India’s National Human Rights Commission, an official government body, found evidence of complicity in the attacks by officials of the Gujarat state government.

The 2004 International Religious Freedom Report by the U.S. State Department said “It was alleged widely that the police and state government did little to stop the violence promptly, and at times encouraged or assisted Hindus involved in the riots.”

In a satellite address to the New York convention he had wanted to attend this past weekend, Modi dismissed the allegations to those in attendance, saying, “Opinion about your motherland is not formed on the basis of propaganda and the contention of a handful of vested interests”. He said there should be verification of facts.