A bipartisan group of US lawmakers on Monday introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives demanding that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi should continue to be denied a visa.
And to keep up the pressure on the issue, the resolution demands that the US must include religious freedom and human rights in its on-going strategic dialogue with India.
Introduced by Keith Ellison, a Democrat, and Joe Pitts, a Republican, the resolution found 13 co-sponsors — eight Democrats and five Republicans, making it a bipartisan effort.
“The victims of events like the riots in Gujarat demand justice,” said Pitts.
“This resolution’s strong bipartisan support shows that the rights of religious minorities in India are a priority for the US Congress,” said Ellison.
The resolution was moved on the eve of Republican party’s first ever outreach to the Indian American community on Capitol Hill, offering up party leaders for on-site schmoozing.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a co-host of the outreach, is among the leading backers of Modi, having visited him in Gujarat earlier in the year with two other Republican lawmakers.
They had assured Modi they would do everything possible to get him a visa to visit the US. On their return, they raised the issue at several platforms including congressional hearings.
The Ellison-Pitt resolution intends to prevent that.
“A large number of these lawmakers have been concerned by efforts under way to get Modi a visa,” said Shaik Ubaid, a leading member of the anti-Modi Campaign Against Genocide.
The chief minister was denied an official visa in 2005 because of the 2002 Gujarat riots, and a tourist/business he already held was cancelled at the same time.
The state department has maintained that Modi is free to apply, but there hasn’t been any change in US position. Lawmakers want that to continue, according to the proposed resolution.