PM hints at own visa woes while rolling out promises, results

PM hints at own visa woes while rolling out promises, results

Ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday indirectly referred to when the United States had revoked his visa for his alleged role during the 2002 Gujarat riots, when he was chief minister of the state.

“I know the problem with seeking visas,” he said. He was speaking about his government’s move to liberalise India's visa regime after inaugurating the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015 at the Mahatma Mandir here on Thursday.

The reference to his personal problem with seeking visa apparently pertained to the US move against him in 2005.

The US State Department in March 2005 had revoked the tourist/business visa issued to Modi in view of his alleged involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Washington had cited Sections 212 (a) (2) (g) of the US Immigration and Nationality Act, which makes any foreign government official who “was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom” ineligible for a visa to America.

Modi’s application for a diplomatic visa was also turned down by the US State Department around the same time.

Washington, however, rolled out the red carpet for Modi after he led the Bharatiya Janata Party to a landslide victory in the Lok Sabha elections in April-May 2014. He visited New York and Washington in September, and met the US President at the White House.

Obama is now set to visit New Delhi from January 24 to 26 on an invitation from the Modi government to attend the Republic Day celebrations as chief guest.

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