"It is our view and view of many others that Mr. Modi shall not be granted the privilege of US visa because of the very serious doubts that remain and that hang over Mr. Modi relative to his role in the horrific events of 2002 in Gujarat," Katrina Lantos Swett, vice chairwoman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom told New York Times newspaper.
"The International Religious Freedoms Act, under which we were created, provides very specifically for the requirement that our government should not issue visas to officials that are implicated in serious abuses of religious freedom rights," she said.
Speaking to the newspaper, Lantos Swett said there are many unanswered questions in connection with the Gujarat riots.
"There are many, many unanswered questions that remain, there are at are many grave allegations, there are huge doubts," she said.
"As you know, one of his (Modi's) ministers (Maya Kodnani) was recently convicted for her role in these events. Given the nature of the way the governments function, it is highly unlikely at the very least that this minister would have been engaged to the degree that she was without the knowledge, without the direction from Mr. Modi," she told the newspaper.
Speaking about the after effects of the riots, she said, "And let's set aside, just for a moment, whether or not Mr. Modi was directly complicit in the events of 2002. There is a lot to be troubled about what has happened since or what has failed to happen."
"Under these circumstances we should follow our laws, which say that we should not give a visa. Of course Mr. Modi wants us to reverse our position because that would be part of his rehabilitation process," she said.
Lantos Swett said that this bit of information is important for Indian voters to decide whether Modi is credible enough to become the next Prime Minister of the country.
"For the people of India, I think it is important for them to consider very carefully who it is who they want to be their next prime minister. It is no outside nation's or no individual's role to tell them who should be the next leader of India. But I think it is a bit of information that will help them as they go through that electoral process," she said.
She said that it is quite disturbing for the US to find Modi more concerned with rehabilitating his own reputation without providing compensations to the 2002 violence survivors.
"One of the things that concern us is that Modi seems more concerned with rehabilitating his own reputation than with providing recompense and rehabilitation for the surviving victims of those terrible events," she said.
On being asked to comment on the US Department of State spokesperson's statement that said Modi was welcomed to apply for the US visa, she said,"I think it was an intentionally ambiguous statement. It is one of the reasons we went public with a (November 2012) letter to Secretary Clinton asking for continuation of the decision to deny a visa to Mr. Modi to influence the State Department."
The US last month said if Modi applies for a visa, his application will be considered to determine whether he qualifies for a visa in accordance with U.S. immigration law and policy,
The US had first denied Modi a visa in 2005 over allegations that his government did nothing to stop the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Modi has also not applied for a US visa since the denial.
--IBNS (Posted on 16-08-2013)