US religious body concerned over Modi entry into US

Washington, May 1 (IANS) A US federal advisory body has reiterated its concerns about Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s admissibility to the US due to his alleged “complicity in the 2002 riots” in the state.

Modi, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Tuesday noted, was the only individual in whose case a provision of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) was invoked in March 2005 to bar his entry. IRFA bars the entry of such individuals “responsible for or directly carried out…particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”

USCIRF said it wrote to the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2012 about the possibility that Modi might apply for a visa, to reiterate its concerns about his admissibility to the United States.

In its 2013 annual report, the federal advisory body that monitors religious freedom abuses abroad, said USCIRF continues to urge the Departments of State and Homeland Security to develop a lookout list of aliens who are inadmissible to the US States on this basis.

The report places India and seven other nations on its “Tier 2 List” where “governments engage in or tolerate are particularly severe, and meet at least one criterion, but not all, of IRFA’s three-fold “systematic, ongoing, egregious” standard.

Other nations on the Tier 2 category which replaces the Watch List designation USCIRF previously used are: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cuba, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos and Russia.

“There has been no large-scale communal violence against religious minorities in India since 2008, and in recent years the Indian government has created special investigative and judicial structures in an effort to address previous such attacks,” the report noted.

“Nevertheless, in the past year, progress in achieving justice through these structures for the victims of past incidents continued to be slow and ineffective,” it said.

“In addition, members of religious minority communities, including Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, reported an increase during the reporting period of intimidation, harassment, and violence, particularly in states with anti-conversion laws,” the report said.

“Justice for past incidents of sectarian violence targeting Muslim, Christians and Sikhs has not been achieved fully,” USRIF said. “In addition, rape has become a common feature of communal violence.”

The report recommended that the Secretary of State re-designate the following eight nations among the worst offenders as “countries of particular concern” or CPCs: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan.

USCIRF said it finds that seven other countries meet the CPC threshold and should be so designated: Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])

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