New Delhi: Even as Gujarat Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) election campaign committee chief Narendra Modi has been denied visa by the United States of America for the last several years over allegations of human rights violations during the 2002 riots in the state, several Members of Parliament have written a letter to US President Barack Obama to continue with the same policy.
A total of 65 MPs wrote letter to Obama in late 2012 against granting Modi a US visa. While one letter was signed by 25 Rajya Sabha MPs, the other was signed by 40 Lok Sabha members. The letters were written on November 26 and December 5, 2102 respectively and re-faxed to the White House on Sunday.
Copies of the letters were provided by the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) as Rajnath Singh, reached Washington to meet US lawmakers, think tanks and US government officials during which he said he will urge the Americans to lift the ban on visa for Modi.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) welcomed the move by the MPs. "This letter is a good step. America refused Modi a visa once before because of the 2002 riots. In the same way Rajnath is bowing to America to get Modi a visa, upright MPs must come forward to oppose this request and put pressure on the US to keep men like this from entering the US," said NCP leader Tariq Anwar
Mohammed Adeeb, Independent MP from Rajya Sabha, who took the initiative for this campaign, said they sent these letters to Obama again because of the current campaign and initiative being taken by Rajnath Singh for getting a US visa for Modi. The letters were being made public only now, he added.
The signatories to the letters include Sitaram Yechury of CPI(M) and MP Achuthan of CPI, both Rajya Sabha members. When contacted Yechury expressed surprise saying he had not signed any such letter. It appeared to be a cut and paste job, he said.
"I would be the last person to write to the US Administration and to do something like this. We don't want anyone to interfere in the internal affairs of the country. These are issues which will have to be settled in India politically," Yechury said. Achuthan also denied writing such a letter.
However, Adeeb insisted that Yechury and Achthan had signed the letter and was surprised why they were retracting now.
"Given that legal cases against the culprits including many senior officials in Mr. Modi's administration are still pending in the court of law, any revoking of the ban at this juncture would be seen as a dismissal of the issues concerning Mr. Modi's role in the horrific massacres of 2002," the letter to Obama said.
"It would legitimise Mr. Modi's human rights violations and seriously impact the nature of US-India relations by sending a message that the United States values economic interests over and above the universal values of human rights and justice," said the letter.
The signatories include Sabir Ali and Ali Anwar Ansari (Janata Dal-U), Rasheed Masood (Congress), S Ahmed (Trinamool Congress) Asaduddin Owaisi (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen), Thirumavalavan (Viduthalai Chiruttaigal Katchi), KP Ramalingam (DMK) and SS Rasmasubbu (Congress).
The MPs alleged that Modi had not only "obstructed" the course of justice but also "failed" to provide rehabilitation to the survivors of whom 16,000 continue to live in refugee colonies lacking basic amenities.
The letter to Obama about Modi's US visa, "is a stark reminder that Modi and the divisive ideology he represents continues to be anathema to a cross section of Indians," said Raja Swamy of the Coalition Against Genocide.
"After long having denied any desire on the part of Mr. Modi to acquire a US visa, Mr. Rajnath Singh's visit to the US, to lobby lawmakers here for Modi's visa reeks of hypocrisy," he added.
Ahsan Khan of the IAMC, a constituent of the CAG coalition, said it was noteworthy that Modi evoked such strongly negative reactions from elected representatives in India as well as the US across the ideological spectrum.
The revelations about the letters comes at a time when BJP President Rajnath Singh is in Washington to meet US lawmakers and officials, and to urge the government to lift the ban on visa for Modi. Singh told a press conference in New York on Sunday that he would appeal to the US lawmakers to impress on the Administration to remove the visa ban on Modi imposed after the 2002 post-Godhra riots.