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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Sikh rights group seeks info on Obama's decision to invite PM

Lalit K Jha, PTI  Washington, August 06, 2014
First Published: 17:50 IST(6/8/2014) | Last Updated: 17:55 IST(6/8/2014)

A US-based Sikh rights group hasfiled a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking documents relating to the Obama administration's decision to invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a meeting at the White House here in September.

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In its FOIA filed before the State Department, the New York-based Sikh for Justice (SFJ) has also sought documents related to the visa ban of Modi after August 2005.

In 2005, the US State Department had revoked a visa that Modi had for travelling to the US in the wake of the 2002 riots in Gujarat.

He never applied for an American visa after the US move. Following his historic win in the general elections this year, President Barack Obama called Modi personally and invited him for a meeting in September.

White House officials say, Obama is looking forward to welcoming Modi.

Urging the Department of State to expedite, the SFJ's FOIA states that "Modi's visa was cancelled/revoked by the US government in 2005 for his involvement in serious human rights violations during 2002 massacre in the state of Gujarat while he was the Chief Minister of that state.

"Since Modi is due to arrive in the United States during September 2014 and is scheduled to attend a summit at the White House, it is urgent that public be aware of how and under what US law a decision was taken to reverse ban on the issuance of visa to Modi, a known human rights violator".

"The law requires USDOS to respond to such FOIA requests within 20 business days," the rights group said.

Last year, SFJ had filed a human rights violation case against the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
 
While the case is still pending in a Washington DC court, the US Government has ruled that Singh enjoys immunity from the case.

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