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Narendra Modi Should Be Denied Visa: US Lawmakers

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In a public appeal to the Obama administration, a group of powerful US lawmakers has asked it not to change the "good policy" of denying visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi under any circumstances in view of serious allegations of "crime against humanity" against him.

"Chief Minister Modi and his government's response to the riots, obstruction of justice, following the (2002) attacks is a severe violation of human rights that the United States has long condemned,"  Congressman Joe Pitts said at a news conference at the Capitol Hill, along with several other lawmakers and families of the Gujarat riot victims.

Pitts -- who along with 24 other lawmakers wrote a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on November 29 requesting her not to grant a US visa to the Gujarat Chief Minister -- alleged that Modi has now indulged in a public relations campaign in an attempt to clear his name from the horrific riots and to seek higher office in India.

"In the past, the previous Bush administration rightly denied Mr Modi's visa application to enter the
United States, because of his complicity with these attacks. We are here to call on the present
Administration, (US) President (Barack) Obama, Secretary Clinton to stand with the victims and continue this good policy," Pitts said.

"Until justice is served, we ask the Obama Administration not to allow Mr Modi to spread falsehood, to come here to the United States and raise funds to be elevated to the Prime Minister of India," he said.

The news conference was also addressed by Congressmen Frank Wolf, who is Chair of Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission; Keith Ellison, Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; and Trent Franks, Chair of the Congressional International Religious Freedom Caucus.

"He (Modi) now seeks to come to the United States. This would not be the proper thing to do," said
Congressman Keith Ellison.

"We have to stand for the accountability, when it comes to the violation of human rights. And in this case,  we have to stand up and deny Mr Modi a visa (to the US)," he said.

Franks urged his Congressional colleagues to "tell this administration that Mr Modi, who failed his responsibility and test of leadership in India, should not be afforded an opportunity to gain a higher
station of leadership" in that country, until this issue is dealt with.

"I would encourage the administration to have the courage what the previous administration has done," he said.

Echoing his colleagues, Congressman Wolf from Virginia urged the Obama administration publicly, "never to grant a visa", to Modi to visit the US under "any" circumstances.

The US lawmakers went public with their appeal to the Obama Administration against Modi, days after they wrote a letter to Clinton in this regard.

"As Mr Modi continues to pursue a potential run for higher office, we believe a change in policy to his request for a visa will only embolden Modi and his government's efforts to obstruct further investigations ... to bring the perpetrators to justice," said the letter to Clinton signed by a group of 25 bipartisan lawmakers from the US House of Representatives.

The letter came ahead of the Gujarat polls on December 13 and 17.