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'Visa denial a courageous stand'

March 18, 2005 21:44 IST

The denial of visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is "a principled and courageous action" by US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and the State Department, a noted Indian American academic said in New York on Friday.

Arjun Appadurai, provost and senior vice-president of New School University, who co-signed a letter of protest sent to Dr Rice urging the US not to permit Modi to come on a private visit, said he believed the denial of visa is a recognition by the US of the controversy surrounding Modi.

Cong supports Modi on visa | BJP approves of govt response

"It indicates to the world that the United States retains a deep commitment to human rights and a deep commitment to the rights of the minorities and to democratic inclusion across the world," Appadurai told

Asked to comment on Modi's assertion that the denial of visa is an insult to the Indian Constitution and gives a lie to US claim of respect for democracy since no court has indicted him in connection with the Godhra massacre, Appadurai said this is "a twisting" of facts.

Denial of Modi visa: Right or wrong?

"The fact that he has not been indicted by court of law is a critique of our judicial institutions," Appadurai said.

Appadurai said Modi had been indicted by many independent judicial and citizens' bodies and that the Indian state and Indian judiciary should now confirm these findings.

"I believe to say that he has not been indicted by law and therefore the denial amounts to a stifling of democratic rights is not the correct estimate of this case. In fact, this on the other hand is upholding of democratic rights," he said.

Did this letter stop Modi?

Appadurai said in any case the rights of a chief minister to come to the US  on a private invitation does not raise any constitutional issues at all.

"As far as Modi's claim of "insult to the Indian Constitution" is concerned, it is entirely a red herring which should not even arrive," Appadurai said.

"And if it arrives at all, it should arrive in the context of Modi's own activities in Gujarat in 2002 and how his government  violated the rights of the minorities. That is a real constitutional issue and not this denial of visa."

Suman Guha Mozumder in New York