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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

MPs' letter to US against Modi authentic: expert

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Washington, July 28, 2013
First Published: 23:48 IST(28/7/2013) | Last Updated: 07:52 IST(29/7/2013)

A California-based forensic expert has certified as original letters written by Indian MPs to US President Barack Obama asking him to continue denying Narendra Modi a visa.

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The forensic examination, commissioned by Coalition Against Genocide, a US based alliance of India centric organizations, said the letters were "original and authentic".

Two letters were written by 65 Indian Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha MPs in November and December 2012 to President Obama on US visa for Modi.

These letters were resent last week to pre-empt BJP moves to increase pressure on US government to change its policy and grant Modi a visa, denied to him in 2005.

Some of the MPs such as CPM leader Sitaram Yechury, MP Achutan (CPI) and KP Ramalingam (DMK) denied signing the letters. And allegations surfaced of forgery.

"Using accepted principles and methods of forensic examination, it is my opinion that the Q1-Q3 (three pages of Rajya Sabha MPs' letter) document was created in a single event, and that the signatures found upon it are original/authentic wet ink signatures," said Nanette M Barto, a California forensic examiner, who examined the letters.

The expert said in her report she had examined a high-resolution scan of the signatures -- she had sought originals, but was not made available to her.

"Allegations of forgery related to the MPs letters are frivolous, and intended to stifle discussion on the issues of justice and human rights that the letters have brought to the fore," said Dr. Shaik Ubaid, President of Indian American Minorities Network, a CAG affiliate.

The issue of US visa for the Gujarat chief minster resurfaced recently with BJP president Rajnath Singh declaring his intention to raise the issue in his meetings during his recently  concluded visit to the US.

He later changed his position to say it was for the US government to decide whether or not to give Modi a visa.

By which time, however, the issue had turned into a full-fledged controversy with the letters to Obama being resent (re-faxed) to White House, just the day Singh arrived here.

The White House has refused to comment on the issue saying, "As a general matter, we do not comment on the President's correspondence."

Questions about the visa were referred to the state department, which has reiterated its standard position that there is no change in the policy and that if Modi were to apply, which he was free to do, the application will be considered.


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