L'affaire Modi

* No, it was an assault on India and Hindus

By RAJEEV SRINIVASAN

A century ago l’affaire Dreyfus rocked France: a Jewish army officer was falsely convicted of treason, dishonorably discharged, and sent to a prison island. In those days European Jews simply did not get the rights due to an average citizen.

Today, Hindus do not get any rights. The Hindu Indian is a second-class citizen: Muslims and Christians set up lucrative, state-subsidized educational institutions and suffer no government interference in their places of worship; whereas Hindu schools are taken over and Hindu temple funds expropriated by the Nehruvian Stalinist State.

In Narendra Modi’s case, 900 people (of which about 250 were Hindus and 100 policemen) are known to have been killed in Gujarat. Many of the riots were started by Muslims. The sheer fabrication that 2,000 innocent Muslims alone were killed was reported apparently by British diplomat Robert Young, citing Christian fundamentalist Cedric Prakash. By the way, the Indian Human Rights Commission has disowned the report cited as “proof” by the Americans. The 2,000 number has now become “truth by repeated assertion,” with no proof required.

Why isn’t the United States then canceling visas for all Congress politicians who stood by, and through inaction or in some cases alleged connivance, murdered 3,000 minority Sikhs (some say 10,000) in 1984? The Akali Dal is in fact demanding the same, if the United States were serious about human rights.

But we know they are not. They are not bothered about 59 Hindus whose burning alive by Muslim fundamentalists led to the Gujarat riots. Nor about 400,000 Hindu Pandits ethnically cleansed from Jammu and Kashmir by Muslim terrorists in 1989.

L’affaire Modi was simply an opportunity for the United States to kill multiple birds with one stone. Appease Muslims by directing their anger at Hindus and not at the United States. And help bizarre American Christian cults that target India. Since the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) appears to act as a front for these cults, it is pointless waving it about as a paragon, personalities notwithstanding.

The U.S. government is a serious offender in its treatment of ethnic and religious minorities at home, and of civilians abroad. Consider Japan (Nagasaki and Hiroshima), Vietnam (My Lai), Chile, Cambodia, Iraq (500,000 children died in 10 years of sanctions: this is true genocide), the Branch Davidians (100 people incinerated by the FBI, the Army, and the BAT) of Waco, Texas, the black group MOVE in Philadelphia (bombed by helicopter gunships), Japanese Americans in concentration camps during WWII, slavery itself. Many called Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon war criminals. With this track record, should the U.S. State Department sit in judgment on anybody?

The visa denial was an attack on the Indian nation’s legitimacy and should be treated as such.

Rajeev Srinivasan wrote this opinion from Mumbai.

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* Yes, the visa denial was appropriate

By S. GOPIKRISHNA

Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, was scheduled to travel to the United States to attend the Gujarati-dominated Asian American Hotel Owners Association conference in Florida. On March 18, 2005, the U.S. government revoked Modi’s business and tourist visas and denied him a diplomatic visa, citing concerns over his alleged involvement in protecting criminal elements responsible for mass killings of Muslims in the 2002 riots.

The predictable brouhaha has seen a wide range of allegations, ranging from ostensible conspiracies about subjugating Hinduism to the U.S. government’s getting its facts wrong.

Let us examine the reason provided for rejection: Modi failed to protect the Muslim minority through his not preventing (and possibly promoting) hatred during the riots.

Can anybody dispute the above when the Government of India’s reports were cited as primary sources by the U.S. government? The protestors should fault the Indian government before the U.S. government.

Secondly, Modi’s invitation was issued by a group of self-proclaimed “influential” hoteliers who have delighted in exhibiting their political connections. Influential people can always reverse decisions through lobbying politicians; so why are Modi’s hosts so silent?

It is possible that impeccable evidence about Modi’s culpability prevents the group from flexing its muscle and forces them to adhere to the maxim that silence is golden.

It is important to note that both Modi’s diplomatic and business visas have been withdrawn. While the former kind of visa is granted solely at the pleasure of the government and can’t be challenged legally, the latter can be challenged and overturned by an immigration judge. It is surprising that protestors’ vehement proclamations about Modi’s innocence have not resulted in a legal challenge. Given the hotelier lobby’s deep financial pockets, can’t they retain a decent immigration attorney and get Modi’s name cleared?

The phenomenal reluctance to reverse the decision through political means or legal means constitutes prima facie evidence of the U.S. government’s decision being likely correct.

Lastly, there are rumors about the decision being inspired by groups of fundamentalist Christians frustrated at Modi’s thwarting their attempts to convert Hindus to Christianity. For the record, the USCIRF has publicly taken credit for influencing the U.S. government’s decision to withdraw Modi’s visas. Does a Bible-thumping, brimstone-breathing evangelist rule the commission? Well, it turns out that Preeta Bansal, an Indian American of Hindu descent heads the commission. Bansal’s active involvement clearly challenges the notion of the denial of visas being religiously motivated by Christian interests.

At the end of the day, nothing contradicts, let alone challenges, the State Department’s decision. In the absence of any concrete evidence, can anybody fault the U.S. government for its decision?

Toronto-based S. Gopikrishna writes on issues pertinent to Indians and India.




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