HindustanTimes Mon,22 Dec 2014

MPs write to Obama against visa for Modi

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 23, 2013
First Published: 16:50 IST(23/7/2013) | Last Updated: 04:36 IST(24/7/2013)

Barely two days after BJP president Rajnath Singh had appealed to the US government to lift the visa ban on Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, as many as 65 MPs from India have written letters to President Barack Obama, urging him not to reverse the US administration’s decision.

In identical letters to Obama, the MPs belonging to 12 political parties have said, “We wish to respectfully urge you to maintain the current policy of denying Mr. Modi a visa to the United States.”

One such letter was signed by 25 Rajya Sabha members and the other by 40 Lok Sabha MPs written on November 26 and December 5, 2012 respectively and re-faxed to the White House on Sunday.

The signatories include Sabir Ali and Ali Anwar Ansari (Janata Dal-United), Rasheed Masood (Congress), Sultan Ahmed (Trinamool Congress) Asaduddin Owaisi (Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen), Thirumavalavan (Viduthalai Chiruttaigal Katchi), KP Ramalingam (DMK), SS Rasmasubbu (Congress), Sitaram Yechury of CPM and MP Achuthan of CPI. However, both Yechury and Achuthan have denied writing any such letter.

“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.

But Rajya Sabha MP Mohammed Adeeb, who took the initiative, insisted that Yechury and Achuthan had signed the letter and was surprised why they were retracting now.

Reacting to it, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted, “Are these MPs voicing the view of their voters/people of their constituency or their prejudices? Against our own country man?”

Owaisi confirmed having signed the letter.

Copies of the letters were provided by the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) as the BJP chief reached Washington to meet US lawmakers, think tanks and government officials. During his visit, he has also appealed to the US administration to lift its visa ban on Modi that had been imposed after the 2002 post-Godhra riots.

Adeeb said the letters were sent again to Obama in view of the BJP chief’s current campaign and made public only 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 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,” it further said.

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