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Modi visa ban: US lawmakers back Gujarat riot victims

Washington, Dec 5, 2012 (IANS) 12:03 IST
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A bipartisan group of US lawmakers joined family members of the victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots, including the widow of a former Indian parliamentarian, to seek a US visa ban for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Victims of the Gujarat riots will not get any justice if Modi becomes India's prime minister, said Zakia Jafri, widow of former parliamentarian, Ehsan Jafri, who was killed by a mob in Ahmedabad during the riots, at a press conference on the Capitol Hill Tuesday.

"If he (Modi) succeeds to become the prime minister, my hopes for justice, along with the hopes of hundreds of thousands of Gujarat victims will be lost. I hope and pray that never happens," she said in a statement read out by her son-in-law Najid Hussain.

"Maintaining the longstanding US policy on Narendra Modi's visa is important for the ongoing struggle for justice in Gujarat," said Jafri's daughter Nishrin Hussain, who has become a US citizen, at the press conference organised by the Coalition Against Genocide ahead of the Gujarat polls later this month.

Shaik Ubaid, one of the founders of the coalition, said: "The revocation of Modi's visa by the US is the biggest impediment in Modi's grandiose plans for himself including becoming the prime minister of India."

Four members of the US House of Representatives, Joseph R. Pitts, Frank Rudolph Wolf, Trent Franks and Keith Ellison, who are among 25 US lawmakers seeking a ban on a US visa for Modi, also addressed the press meet.

Representatives from The Advocates for Human Rights, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom as well as several prominent human rights activists also spoke.

In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, eight Republican and 17 Democrat Congresspersons, have urged the State Department to "deny Mr. Modi entry due to numerous reports of his involvement in horrific human rights violations in India".

Earlier this year, Ellison had introduced a House Resolution on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Gujarat riots calling for justice and reparations.

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