US group flays hype over US envoy’s meeting with Modi

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By India Tomorrow News,
Washington DC, 15 Feb 2014: The US-based civil group Coalition Against Genocide (CAG) has expressed disappointment at the hype over the US administration’s outreach to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi who has been banned from entering the US for his alleged role in the Gujarat riot 2002.

US ambassador to India, Ms. Nancy Powell met with Mr. Modi, as well as opposition leaders and non-government organizations in Gujarat on Thursday.

While the Barack Obama administration has maintained that the meeting between Ambassador Powell and Chief Minister Modi is a customary gesture extended to regional and opposition leaders, CAG said 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.

“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.

Mr. Modi is 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.

Meanwhile, 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.

At the meeting with Ms. Powell, Mr. Modi’s posturing over the treatment of diplomat Devyani Khobragade was condemned by CAG siting 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.

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