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US Denies Visa to Indian Official Implicated in Anti-Muslim Violence


The United States has revoked a visa for an Indian official implicated in a wave of religious rioting in the state of Gujarat in 2002. Narendra Modi is accused by human rights groups of orchestrating the violence, which killed as many as 2,000 people, most of them Muslims.

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi says it has revoked tourist and business visas for Narendra Modi under a law that prohibits government officials who violate religious freedoms from entering the United States.

In a written statement, the embassy says it also denied Mr. Modi's application for a diplomatic visa, because his planned visit was not in an official capacity. Mr. Modi is the chief minister for India's western state of Gujarat, where a wave of religious rioting in 2002 killed up to 2,000 people, most of them Muslims.

Activist Teesha Setlavad, from the rights group Citizens for Justice and Peace, welcomes the U.S. decision. Her group alleges Mr. Modi is guilty of "genocidal acts" for preventing authorities in Gujarat from taking action against anti-Muslim rioters.

"The role he played in actually subverting the Gujarat police from performing its constitutional duty, actually meant that mass murder, mass rapes and mass arson took place," she said.

Speaking at a news conference Friday, Mr. Modi denied involvement in the violence and criticized the United States. He says the United States has insulted the Indian constitution.

Mr. Modi intended to visit the United States to meet with Indian-American businessmen. A Muslim rights group in Washington had lobbied the government to prevent his visit.

The 2002 riots pitted Hindus against Muslims in a series of attacks and counter-attacks that began after 60 Hindu pilgrims were killed in a train fire blamed on a Muslim mob.

Rights activists laid responsibility on Mr. Modi and the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which ruled both the state and national governments at the time.

The B.J.P.'s failure to take disciplinary action against Mr. Modi, analysts say, contributed to its defeat in last year's parliamentary election.

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