Get the Modi Out

Posted by sepoy on March 18, 2005 · 2 mins read

One more thing. Wanderer kindly send in a BBC link to Narendra Modi, the chief minister of the state of Gujarat, being denied visa by US of A. I criticized the US for preventing Tariq Ramadan entry and called it censorship. This is just the same.

Modi was complicit, at the very least for his non-existent response to the carnage, in the Gujarat riots. He deserves to be tried in a court of law for that. He was coming to the States on the invitation of Asian American Hotel Owners Association and was going to speak at Madison Square Garden. Many, many South Asian groups protested the invite. Including members of US Congress. They lobbied the State Department and got the refusal they sought. Of course, Modi is saying that the denial of the visa is an insult to India and he will now assume the posture of a martyr. Congress makes the usual weak response.

Muslim groups were part of this lobbying effort. They should know that the weapon of censorship is, and will continue to be, aimed at them. Modi and his politics are despicable to me and I would have said so, given the opportunity, to his face or outside his arena. Denying him entry makes him a martyr and rallies his troops but it does not bring any justice to the matter. If the US was going to arrest him upon arrival and charge him for human rights violation, I would have applauded that. But, this denial serves no purpose. You cannot compromise on a principle and expect your opponents to not throw that in your face. If Tariq Ramadan was denied his right to come and say what he had to, then Modi was denied his right to do the same. And I was denied my right to go applaud Ramadan and protest Modi.


Ajju | March 18, 2005

Yours is the only argument against denying the visa that has made me ambivalent on the issue. It would be very hard if not impossible for America to arrest Modi under international law, even if they wanted to. SOMEONE needed to b*slap him - and perhaps this was the only way. But I see your point.

Amardeep | March 18, 2005

Wow, strong response. I see your point about censorship (though it's not *quite* censorship), and agree that there's no real reason to deny his visa. He's not been indicted or convicted of any crime in India, even if many people (myself included) already think he's guilty. My theory is that someone in the Congress leadership made a phone call to the State Department about this; my suspicion is that that may have had more to do with the visa denial than the assortment of leftie South Asian orgs and Muslim groups that were planning protests. Perhaps Cong. was worried Modi would use this as a BJP fundraising mission?

Ajju | March 18, 2005

Actually some U.S. Congressmen petitioned the government too. Amongst the reasons they gave one was "In addition to his reported culpability in the Gujarat riots and his promotion of racist ideology, there are widespread reports of Mr Modi's leadership of the harassment of Christian religious and educational organizations over a number of years. Further, on a daily basis Chief Minister Modi and his government actively harass Christian leaders and Christian religious organizations who are involved in the relief and rehabilitation work of the victims of violence by extremist Hindus."

AD | March 18, 2005

The big difference between Ramadan and Modi... is that Modi did not just (allegedly) speak out in support of terrorists. He IS a terrorist. He shouldn't be any more welcome in the US than bin Laden or al-Zawahiri. Well there is one distinction there... unlike Al Qaeda, the Sangh Parivar has not attacked the US... yet... PS: Did anyone else get a serious chill thinking about representatives of one of the world's most dangerous terorist organizations reaching out to a national association of hotel owners?

sepoy | March 18, 2005

Amardeep: It may not be "quite" censorship. But, if he is prohibited because of the protest or "classified" information in the State files, I call it state intervention in the legitimate, free flow of ideas and persons. AD: Modi is an elected official of India - representing a major political party - which last I checked was not designated as a terrorist. He has not been convicted of anything. In India or in the US. I can't believe I am defending that louse.

AD | March 18, 2005

A major political party? True... the BJP has many members and supporters, but it it serves pretty much the same role for the more radical elements of the Sangh Parivar that the Sinn Fein served for the Provisional IRA... Like Modi, bin Laden has probably never personally pulled a trigger or set a bomb (all the tall tales of Osama's Sergeant Rock-like exploits against the Soviets notwithstanding). He just gives orders, makes suggestions and provides material and moral support. Does that make him any less of a terrorist? Yes, Modi is an elected official. That fact suggests that something is seriously broken in India.. not in the US...

Zia | March 19, 2005

ٰIsn't the more serious concern the fact that the hotel owners invited him in the first place? And that thousands of attendees would have merrily applauded? I'm with Sepoy on the visa denial. It would have been fine if the hoteliers had disinvited him from fear of losing customers and advertisers. That said, I'm not sure that censorship is the key here. I mean, he would probably have spoken about doing business in Gujarat, not Pogroms R Us.

arnab | March 19, 2005

sepoy, i mostly agree with you about the logic of the denial; it cuts both ways. i agree as well with zia that what is truly alarming is that he was issued the invitation to begin with. it is possible that the hotel owning desi contingent is still largely gujarati but i don't know how it is possible to not view this invitation as at least tacit endorsement of modi as a viable political figure in the wake of godhra and after. much work remains to be done on consciousness raising in the american diaspora. and i have to disagree with the person above who dismisses the bjp as not a major political party. they may have been swept out of office but they're far from done. and as someone who lived in delhi in the years leading up to the demolition of the babri masjid i have no illusions about the nature of the support they had then, and probably still do, for their religious agenda.

A | March 19, 2005

The denial serves many purposes. See here:

Z | March 19, 2005

Sepoy, I am an activist with CAG and I am very disappointed to see that you are trying to make a comparison between the visa being denied to Modi and to Ramadan. Modi's visa was denied based on the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. He is in violation of many International laws. He has been criticized by the Supreme Court of India (Zahira Shaik ruling) and Human Rights bodies (NHRC, AI, HRW) for his complicity in the Gujarat pogroms and the aftermath. See this Modi dossier for more details and on the cases pending against Modi. Ramadan on the other hand had not been condemned by any Human Rights or Legal bodies nor was he in violation of any US or international laws. Apples and organges Sepoy! BTW, it is incorrect that mostly muslim groups have lobbied against Modi. CAG consists of almost 40 Indian American orgs and of those barely 3 can be described as Muslim orgs -

sepoy | March 19, 2005

Z: You are right. Modi and Ramadan are two different species. Denial of visa to enter the US, however, is the same. Should the same "punishment" apply for both? My simple case is this: Invoking and cheering dubious US law for people you are against but condemning the same law for people you are for, makes little sense to me. Why was pressure not exerted on the hoteliers to dis-invite Modi? Why was pressure not exerted on US to charge Modi when he got here? Why was a civil case not filed against Modi in US courts? Why wasn't a media blitz of protests and media-information launched for his entire tour? All I am saying is that denying him visa to come and talk to some hotelwallas does exactly what in terms of bringing him any justice? Also, I haven't checked but is MSM or even the blogosphere taken any notice of this? Technorati shows mere 400 posts and none by the main bloggers seem to be interested in this great victory [hello instapundit?]. Lastly, I did not claim that "mostly muslim groups have lobbied against Modi".

Z | March 20, 2005

Sepoy, Why was pressure not exerted on the hoteliers to dis-invite Modi? Pressure was exerted by CAG and its member organizations. AAHOA refused to relent. Protests were planned for Modi's arrival at the convention. CAG will still be carrying out a rally at Madison Square Garden tomorrow during AIANA's broadcast of Modi's speech. The protests in Florida will still go ahead as a peace rally for Gujarat victims. Protests were also planned against Cal State Uni which had invited Modi to inaugurate its India Center. Why was pressure not exerted on US to charge Modi when he got here? Why was a civil case not filed against Modi in US courts? CAG was and is working in this direction. But there are existing cases against Modi in Indian courts (please read the dossier). The diplomatic agreements between US and India would lead to any case against Modi (an Indian citizen) being thrown out if the Indian courts already have a case on similar grounds lodged against him. Why wasn't a media blitz of protests and media-information launched for his entire tour? A blitz of protests and media-information has been active. Press releases and Op-Eds are being sent out daily. But keep in mind that CAG is a grassroots organization and as such will not get much attention in the US or Indian media. The little reporting that was done as a result of many man-hours put in by volunteers often resulted in sloppy reporting by local media. How do you think it is possible to get US media's attention on the visit of a little known indian politician, when even desis don't know that there was a massacre in Gujarat in 2002? And its not due to any lack of trying. It is just very difficult to get the public and the media interested. The State Dept.s action has now brought attention to this issue. does exactly what in terms of bringing him any justice? Modi's visit to US was one among series of attempts by BJP and his Hindutva supporters to whitewash his image. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of which Modi is a pracharak, is promoting him as the next leader of BJP and a potential candidate as the Prime Minister of India. Modi was not elected Chief Minister the first time he became one - he was selected and promoted by RSS when Keshubhai Patel was kicked out. The 2nd time he won elections by fanning religious hatred after the 2002 pogroms. AAHOA and AIANA were promoting Modi as a 'dynamic young leader' 'great orator and statesman' and as vital to the Indian American business community. Modi's visa cancellation does this: - Got Gujarat pogroms back in picture - Damaged AAHOA's propaganda about Modi's business viability to American Gujaratis - Is a very minor victory in the much larger struggle against fundraising and lobbying in US by extremist Hindutva ideologues. - Sets him up as 'damaged goods' for BJP in international politics. Again about Modi vs Ramadan, Modi is in violation of laws both US (IRFA) and international. Ramadan was not in violation of US or international laws - his visa denial was based on suspicion raised by Daniel Pipes & Co. The difference between the two cases is Denial of visa due to legal violations vs denial of visa due to suspicions raised. I dont' see a problem in supporting the former and protesting the latter. Modi has so far gotten away from being brought to justice thru corruption (see the Supreme Court of India's ruling on Best Bakery Case) and intimidation (Zahira Sheik, Haryan Pandya murder) in India. Something had to show him somewhere that Gujarat genocide will haunt him. About the last line, yes you are right, sorry about that - I misread you.

sepoy | March 20, 2005

Z: Thanks for spelling it out to me. I do realize, and recognize, that grassroots organization has done much in this. And, trust me, I am fully aware of Modi/RSS connections here and in India. I completely see your point but the "minor victory" remains dubious to me because of its broader ramifications. Modi was "lobbied" out. Ramadan was also "lobbied" out [albeit much more secretly]. I just see a dangerous precedent. We will simply have to disagree here. I do want to thank you again for explaining the broader work of your organization and I wholeheartedly applaud what you are doing to keep the Gujarat issue alive and work towards bringing those responsible to justice. Many kudos to you.

mia | March 20, 2005

There seems to be two aspects to this - one being the need to express public condemnation of the gujarat incident and keep it alive; and the other not to give modi too much importance or let him portray himself as a martyr. the sad bit is that many who wouldn't otherwise support modi support him in this issue because people resent american imperialism. hindu business line article may be noted. mia

Saurav | March 21, 2005

Right on, brother! I don't think the two situations are identicial, given that Modi was a little more responsible for the deaths of a few thousand people (he's more like Pinochet than a scholar, in my opinion), but I appreciate your skepticism of U.S. state power and your defense of the freedom of expression (which is truly needed these days).

Z | March 21, 2005

Anti-Modi protest in NY pictures

gerry | March 26, 2005

Modi has postponed his planned UK visit. bbc report

hafiz arif | May 14, 2005

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Dark Days Ahead... | March 21, 2005

Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead ...maybe it's the time of day, but I can't help feeling conflicted, despite that I had previously expressed shock at the fact that Modi was given a visa at all. I wish the repulsion of Modi had come from a change in desi community perspective rather ...