Post UK Policy Change, US to Reconsider Narendra Modi Visa

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi

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Washington, DC – A top US diplomat on Oct 11 revealed a possible shifting of Washington policy towards incumbent Chief Minister Narendra Modi of the western Indian state of Gujarat, after Britain recently decided to end Modi’s pariah status, enforced after communal riots in the state a decade ago.

Responding to a question from India America Today, Mike Hammer, the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, said that the US will evaluate any visa application based on merit and according to US law.

With London asking the British envoy to meet Modi, who’s a strong contender for the prime ministership after the coming general elections, Hammer was asked, “Is there a shift in the US policy towards Modi, or not yet?”

Addressing a packed press conference, Secretary Hammer replied, “As you probably know, we don’t get into questions of visa matters on any particular individual.”

“That said, we of course will evaluate any visa application based on its merits and in accordance with US law, so I don’t have anything further on that specifically,” added Hammer.

Earlier, the British government in a surprise move announced plans to resume official contact with Modi in the coming weeks.

“I have asked the British High Commissioners in New Delhi to visit Gujarat and to meet the chief minister and other senior figures in the state,” Hugo Swire, the new British minister in charge of India, said in a statement.

“This will allow us to discuss a wide range of issues of mutual interest and to explore opportunities for closer cooperation,” the statement added.

Western nations, including the UK and the US, paused interactions with Modi and his government after a series of communal riots in Gujarat.

On Feb 27, 2002, the Sabarmati Express train was attacked at the small town station of Godhra by an alleged Muslim mob, resulting in the deaths of 58 Hindu pilgrims, including 25 women and 15 children. The Sabarmati Express was carrying passengers who were returning from Ayodhya, a disputed site where a mosque had been demolished to make way for a Hindu temple.

There were immediate retaliatory attacks against Muslims and a rash of communal riots on a large scale across the state, in which hundreds of Muslims and Hindus were ultimately killed and dozens were reported missing.

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