Narendra Modi as prime minister of India may have overcome the hurdle of getting a visa to the US but his gory past in which he directed the pogroms of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 cannot be washed away so easily. Protests have greeted him at each stop. He should be put in trial for war crimes.
Sunday September 28, 2014, 21:03 DST
In a display of naked opportunism, President Barack Obama will welcome Narendra Modi, the killer prime minister of India, to the White House on September 30. Modi’s maiden visit to the US, however, has not gone unnoticed by human rights activists that are demanding justice for the victims of his pogroms in Gujarat in 2002.
Human rights activists had successfully lobbied the US State Department to deny Modi a visa to enter the US in 2005 using the 1998 law barring entry to foreigners who have “committed severe violations of religious freedom.” Modi was complicit in the massacre of thousands of innocent Muslims in Gujarat.
As prime minister, he has been granted a visa to attend the UN General Assembly session where he was given the podium on Saturday September 27. Modi’s rightwing fascist supporters planned a welcoming ceremony for him at Madison Square Gardens in New York City. It was an obscene display of Hindu jingoism with idols and skyscrapers mixing in a display of colored lights.
Lawyers and human rights activists protested his New York speech outside the venue. The protesters included not only Muslims but also Sikhs and Hindus. For instance, 72-year-old Satinath Choudhary, member of the Alliance for Social Justice, a New York resident, said he wanted to register his protest against Modi’s presence.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a lawyer representing Sikhs for Justice, plans to hold a Citizens’ Court in front of the White House on September 30 when Obama will receive Modi.
"We are holding a 'Citizens Court' in Washington DC on September 30 in front of the White House. Our purpose of doing it at the precise location and time of the Obama-Modi summit is to remind the world and the American public that just because Modi had to be let into the country as head of a foreign government, the plight of religious minorities in India has not improved, actually it has worsened,” he was quoted by Al Jazeera on September 28.
The most moving account was given by Nishrin Jafri, daughter of Ahsan Jafri, the Congress Party Member of Parliament from Gujarat who was not only dragged from his house but he was tortured before being cut into pieces. Nishrin narrated to Al Jazeera, “[the Hindu mobs] were killing children and women with swords and knives, throwing fire bombs and burning them alive. My father was cut into pieces, tortured for hours before and then his head was paraded around."
Obama will receive and shake hands with a person who presided over such gruesome acts and deliberately prevented the police from saving the victims of Nazi-style crimes. The silver lining in this entire sordid episode is that not everyone in India has lost his/her humanity. Those protesting against Modi include Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs of Indian origin residing in the US.
Modi should not only have been denied entry into the US, he should be arrested for crimes against humanity and put on trial to answer for his criminal deeds.