Monday, March 21, 2005

Siddharth Varadarajan on the Modi visa flap

Via Locana, Siddharth Varadarajan's essay on the Narendra Modi visa denial flap. This is a decent rhetorical trouncing.

His argument is that the NDA (the name for the former BJP coalition government) is wielding the national "self-respect" (swabhimaan) card hypocritically.

All countries exercise their right to issue visas (and even passports) keeping in mind their own definition or perception of national interest. Thus, the National Democratic Alliance Government tightened the procedure for granting foreign scholars visas to attend conferences on "political" subjects or conduct research on "sensitive" topics or areas. More recently, a Dutch professor and expert on Assam and the Northeast had his application for an Indian visa rejected.

Foreign governments can protest, concerned Indians can criticise their Government's pig-headedness and agitate for a more liberal approach, and the courts may intervene but that is unfortunately the way the law works.

He acknowledges that the U.S. decision to deny Modi a visa on grounds that he has hurt religious freedom in Gujurat may be a double-standard:
L.K. Advani, who travelled to the U.S. as Deputy Prime Minister in June 2003 and promised Indian soldiers as cannon fodder for the U.S. occupation of Iraq, had no trouble getting a visa despite being formally charge-sheeted in a major case involving religious discrimination — the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

But the BJP is out of power now. The U.S. doesn't need the support of someone like Modi right now.

But of course we shouldn't forget: the real issue isn't so much whether NM gets a visa or not. The issue is, when will there be justice for the victims of Gujurat? Varadarajan:

Investigations by the National Human Rights Commission, the CBI (in the Bilkis Bano case), and scores of non-governmental bodies have documented numerous acts of omission and commission, suggesting official connivance with the perpetrators of the violence. Even if one accepts the argument that Mr. Modi knew nothing at all about the manner in which more than 2,000 Muslims were targeted and killed across his State in the weeks following the Godhra incident of 2002, his failure to investigate these crimes and punish the guilty is manifest. No less a judicial authority than the Supreme Court of India has pointed this out.


Niraj said...

Even if Modi had no direct involvement in the riots, he is morally responsible for not stopping them. Police were given orders to do nothing while well-organized mobs went on a rampage, killing and looting anyone who is Muslm.

4:08 PM  

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