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Modi anti-visa pressure came from multiple sources


U.S. Congressmen felt granting a visa to him would be contradictory to international law.

Lobbying by U.S. lawmakers, concern over extra-judicial deaths in Gujarat and the tenth anniversary of the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in the state combined into a multi-year wave of pressure against any possibility of the White House revising its decision to deny Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi an entry visa, according to U.S. State Department cables and other documents obtained by The Hindu through a Freedom of Information.

U.S. lawmakers pressed for sustained visa denial

In part, the Department’s close tracking of the legal challenges facing Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi stemmed from, and was used to compile a response to, pressure from domestic political constituencies that were intent on keeping the visa ban against Mr. Modi intact.

Between 2005 and 2008, at least 30 U.S. Congressmen wrote to the administration asking that Mr. Modi “should once again be denied admission to the U.S… [because] granting a visa to [him] would be contradictory to international law and would only serve to validate the Chief Minister’s abhorrent policies and actions.”

Most of the lawmakers focused on reports by the State Department and others that the Gujarat police in 2002 “were criticised for failing to stop the violence, and in some cases participating or encouraging it,” some referencing the 2003 Indian Supreme Court finding that “The state government of Gujarat led by Mr. Modi, had actively supported the anti-Muslim violence and ordered the police not to interfere.”

Of those who petitioned the State Department in this regard, 28 were Republicans, many Tea Party members, who made references to continuing tensions facing the Christian minority community in Gujarat.

Two members Keith Ellison and André Carson were from the Democratic Party, and drew attention to the fate of Muslims during the riots, including “the rape, gang-rape, and molestation of hundreds of Muslim women.”

In their responses to the Congressmen’s letters the State Department made a candid comment about Mr. Modi: “The Department of State is extremely sensitive to your concerns and we are cognisant of the human rights abuses Mr. Modi has committed.”

According to reports the Department said in its reply to the Congressmen’s letters that at the time no visa application for Mr. Modi had been located in their system and should one arrive it would be “adjudicated in strict accordance with the Immigration and Naturalisation Act,” including restrictions for those who violated religious freedom laws.

Concern over extra-judicial killings

Further, in 2011, several cables hinted at Washington’s concern surrounding extra-judicial killings in the state – notably the Ishrat Jahan ‘encounter killing’ case and the Haren Pandya whistleblower assassination episode.

Regarding the former, a U.S. cable dated April 2013 (DTG: 021156Z APR 13; CONFIDENTIAL, SENSITIVE) commented upon the arrest of five senior Gujarat police officers between February 21 and March 6 2013, on charges stemming from the 2004 killing of four Muslims, including a teenaged girl, Ishrat Jahan.

The officers had allegedly killed the innocent youths and falsified evidence to make them appear to be terrorists, the cable explained, adding, “Critics of… Modi say that these fake encounters were not the work of rogue officers but were an official state policy designed to instil fear [in] Muslims.”

Not only did the cable go on to quote retired police officer R.B. Sreekumar, former head of the Gujarat state intelligence during April-September 2002 corroborating this view, but the diplomatic mission directly spoke to those familiar with the matter to obtain further details.

Quoting a person whose name had been redacted the cable said, “… told ConGen Staff in March that the accused police officers feel they are scapegoats for implementing an official state policy to carry out extra-judicial killings. He added that the officers believe that the state government abandoned them after the SIT report was submitted… [and] have decided to vigorously contest the charges and to prove they were not ultimately responsible.”

The cable also cited a Tehelka magazine report, which said that during 2002-06 the Ahmedabad police, “killed approximately 17 individuals they then alleged were terrorists.”

The second aspect of extra-judicial killings that drew the attention of the U.S. was the 2003 “mysterious assassination” of Haren Pandya, whom a cable dated September 2011 (DTG: 090413Z SEP 11; UNCLAS, SENSITIVE) described as “a vocal critic of… Modi.” Further, Pandya’s family believed that “his murder was a deeper political conspiracy by Modi to silence Pandya,” the cable said.

The case came up again in 2011 after the Gujarat high court reversed the earlier conviction of 12 Muslims accused of murdering Mr. Pandya, and the cable said that the re-opening of the case could “bring to light new information regarding Pandya’s killing and potentially cause political and legal headaches for… Modi as he prepares for the 2012 state elections.”

The cable appeared particularly seized of the fact that the Gujarat High Court had criticised the Central Bureau of Investigation for accepting the Gujarat police theory that Mr. Pandya’s killing was “Muslim revenge for the 2002 anti-Muslim violence.” Accepting the verdict, the CBI has indicated that it would re-open the murder investigation, the cable underscored.

Riots anniversary

Finally the tenth anniversary of the 2002 Gujarat riots was a rallying point for those who criticised the slowness in the delivery of justice to the victims, according to the cables.

In a cable dated March 2012 (DTG: 010723Z MAR 12; SENSITIVE, UNCLAS) to Washington the Mumbai consulate said that commemoration events in Gujarat passed peacefully, with victims highlighting not only their painful experiences, but also the lack of compensation and rehabilitation for Muslims whose homes and businesses were destroyed during the violence.

“Ten years later, not everyone is convinced that Gujarat has moved on, and the riots remain Modi’s biggest obstacle to his national political ambitions,” the cable said.

In the face of public comments by Arun Jaitley, then the BJP’s leader in the Rajya Sabha, that “Gujarat has had a riot-free decade,” and that Mr. Modi’s opponents were using NGOs and media, the U.S. documented remarks by a name-redacted contact in Gujarat who said to them privately, “When you have succeeded in killing people and putting Muslims in ghettos, then there is no need for communal violence.”

The cable seemed to suggest that the U.S. was convinced that justice had not yet been served to riot survivors. It noted that an estimated 200,000 Muslims fled their homes after the riots, approximately 30,000 still lived in relief colonies, and more than 70,000 relocated to Muslim ghettos after selling their properties and businesses in previously mixed neighbourhoods to Hindu neighbours.

Additionally, given that the Gujarat government had not at the time compensated victims for property loss and “refused to rebuild places of worship and denied building permissions when communities wanted to rebuild on their own,” the cable posited, “the taint of the 2002 riots will continue to linger on into the 2014 national election campaign, when Modi will be angling to be the BJP’s candidate for Prime Minister.”


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PIPFPD urges Pakistan not to send back Indian journalists & renew their visa


India chapter of Pakistan-India Peoples Forum for Peace & Democracy (PIPFPD) urges Pakistan government to renew the visa of two Indian journalists Meena Menon of The Hindu and Snehesh Philip of PTI. They are based in Islamabad since August last year.

They have been asked to leave Pakistan in a week’s time. Their visa expired in March and since then both have been trying hard to get them renewed. There has been no provocation on their part.

PIPFPD is of the opinion that asking Indian journalists to leave Pakistan will send a wrong message at a critical juncture when elections are taking place and 
will only help hardliners. In a global world and especially when Indians and Pakistanis want closer ties and a much more open visa policy we are of the opinion that both the countries should allow more journalists into each others country. 

The recent statements of Mr. Nawaz Sharif, Pakistans Prime Minister and Mr. Abdul Basit, Pakistans High Commissioner in India are positive as they said they will work with any government which comes to power in India. 

We hope the justice will be done and Meena Menon and Snehesh Philips visa will be renewed.’
Asha Hans                                                                                         Jatin Desai

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Why Narendra Modi Keeps Losing His US War? #NaMo #Feku

Narendra Modi has not lost any elections. The only defeats he has suffered have all been in the United States where the many attempts to get the ban lifted on his US visa were defeated by the pluralist alliance, the Coalition Against Genocide or CAG ( For the last 2 weeks, CAG and Hindu America Foundation, HAF, the Hindutva advocacy group supporting Modi, have been engaged in a public war. Both groups have been trying to discredit each other. On behalf of Urdu daily Siasat Subhatul Marjan has interviewed Dr. Shaik Ubaid. He did his MBBS from Osmania Medical College, MD in Neurology from Medical College of Wisconsin and Fellowship in clinical neurophysiology from Cornell University where he taught for a few years after getting a direct appointment as an assistant professor.

Siasat: CAG and HAF are fighting in a foreign country. Modi’s supporters blame you of washing India’s dirty linen outside and also of undermining India’s sovereignty.

Dr. Ubaid: Well both HAF and CAG members are based in America. CAG members consider it their moral obligation to uphold and continue the struggle for human rights wherever they are based. So we are not actually washing India’s dirty linen in a foreign country. Also I believe that human rights should be considered the universal value. India had always spoken out against oppression from the time it gained independence, such as its stand against apartheid in South Africa. So if there are violations of human rights going on in India, other countries have equal right and obligation to speak out against it. It is Modi’s supporters such as Rajnath who come to the US with a begging bowl to request for his visa, they are the ones who are not respecting India’s sovereignty or US laws.
shaik ubaid dr


Siasat: But CAG supports resolution HR 417 in US Congress which HAF says is anti India

Dr. Ubaid: HR 417 is an excellent resolution that praises India and Hinduism. It speaks against extremism and the threat it poses to India’s pluralist ethos; that is why Hindutva extremists such as HAF are against it. More than 22 members of Congress have joined as cosponsors after the HAF launched its campaign; we now have more than 50 members of Congress cosponsoring the resolution.


Siasat: Well, CAG has hired a lobbying firm

Dr. Ubaid. CAG did not hire any lobbying firm but IAMC has hired a person to lobby, that is: educate the US policy makers about Hindutva. IAMC is an important part of CAG. But that is how things get done in Washington through paid persons-lobbyists who will go meet the politicians to educate and inform them. Modi and RSS have a lobby. Also, HAF has many full time employees in Washington. IAMC and CAG do not


Siasat: HAF blames CAG and you of being anti Hindu

Dr. Ubaid: CAG is a broad alliance of various community based organizations and activists and human rights advocates; and Hindus are very much part of CAG. Also, Hindutva is not Hinduism. We are against the violent supremacist ideology of Hindutva, which strives to eliminate, even violently, Muslims, Christians and other minorities from India. Let us not forget that they are against moderate Hindus; they killed Gandhiji. The founders of Hindutva started the movement after meeting Italy’s fascist leader Mussolini in the 1920s. Later Hitler became their hero. In Gandhiji’s home state of Gujarat, where now Modi rules, thanks to Hindutva propaganda, Hitler is a bigger hero than Gandhi for the school students. Hindutva does not recognize Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism as independent religions. It denies even the religious identity of many groups


Siasat: What do you consider HAF a Hindu group or a human rights group?

Dr. Ubaid: Neither. They are an advocacy group for Hindutva who wear the guise of a Hindu advocacy group. They call themselves a human rights group but they continuously attack not only CAG but the most respected human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. They do not care for India, Hindus or human rights. If they do, then they will try to make India better by working against the human rights violations in India. They never condemned the massacres or rapes in which the government and its agencies are complicit and that is the worst kind of human rights violation and persecution as accepted universally by all. It is much worse than terrorism conducted by groups. They do not condemn the bomb blasts by Hindutva terror groups such as Abhinav Bharat and the bomb blasts in Mecca Masjid, Samjhuta Express, Malegaon, etc. They advocate for violent groups such as VHP and are linked to it. Have they condemned Bajrang Dal? They try to “contextualize” the massacres and mass scale gang-rapes by Hindutva mobs in Gujarat. Have they condemned the recent Assam and Muzaffarnagar pogroms and the hatemongering that led to them? They score 0% in the human rights test, they get an F-. They hold my MPC work against war mongering by US neoconservatives as “bad”; how can they be a human rights group? They support causes and groups that are condemned by the USCIRF and the State department for human rights violations and still hope that the US government will support them because they praise Israel! So childish, shallow and unprincipled!


HAF and its parents VHP-A and RSS endanger the political and economic future of unsuspecting Hindu American children who are snared by HAF propaganda and go to their camps and get recruited. Take the case of Sonal Shah she could have been the first Hindu cabinet member in Obama administration. When the president learnt of her VHP-A links he did not give her that position.


Siasat: What do you make of the HAF report against CAG?

Dr. Ubaid: It is a propaganda piece that is full of lies and also was put together in a very amateur way. Look at their childish diagram of boxes and names and arrows. They use the language of Islam-baiting and red-baiting hoping to please the Tea Party. The links they give is from groups known for Islamophobia and who are not respected by HRW, Amnesty or Southern Poverty Law Center. They did not even do a thorough search of our websites. They say Muslim Peace Coalition is part of CAG. This excellent and respected Coalition is not part of CAG. They say FOSA, a leftist member of CAG, has never condemned the violations of human rights in Pakistan, which it has done many times. They think that by dragging Israel’s name they can score political points. It is so stupid, because how can that support their human rights credentials. The report actually helps us go to the inter-faith circles and human rights groups in the US and prove to them that HAF is involved in hate mongering and fear peddling. The constant demonization of Christian missionaries by HAF hurts them even with the Republican Party and right wing US organizations. HAF has no strategy other than arrogant fear mongering.


Siasat: The HAF report attacks you personally as affiliated with Jamate Islami and Muslim Brotherhood through Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)

Dr. Ubaid: That is what I am saying. They use the fear-mongering tactics of American Islamophobia movement and even copy their “research links”. Guilt by association, mudslinging and, lies are used by them. They call ICNA a Jamate Islami front as well as a Muslim Brotherhood front. “Come on make up your mind,” I say. I joined ICNA for a couple of years during its excellent work against the Bosnia genocide. ICNA was an independent and most dynamic American Muslim organization. When some members of ICNA tried to bring it closer to Jamate Islami, I not only protested it but left ICNA. I left in 96 or 97 along with a big group. Some of them rejoined ICNA later after it became clear that ICNA will not get closer to Jamate Islami. I and many others still did not rejoin. On the other hand I have been working with African-American Muslim groups since 1988 soon after arriving in the US.


To divert attention from the direct links to the militant and extremist VHP, HAF tried to muddy the waters by saying I am linked to ICNA. They say other silly and bizarre things to prove that I am anti-Hindu, anti-US and anti-India! Their report mentions a recent speech I gave to protest the human rights violations in Bangladesh. I protested the attacks on Bangladeshi Hindus, brought out the genocide of Biharis by Bengali nationalists and of Bengalis by the Pakistani army and its allies; in short it was a pure human rights speech. It was also in India’s interest because if Bangladesh gets destabilized then India will have a bigger Afghanistan on its east. State department of the US says the same thing. In fact my appeal to form 2 bodies- an independent international war crimes tribunal such as for Bosnia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone, that will look into the genocide of both Bengalis and Biharis and second – a truth and reconciliation commission as done by Mandela in South Africa, was supported by the Muslim Majlise Mushawarat in India. My article on this topic was published in Tahelka.


Siasat: What about CCIM (Consultative Community of Indian Muslims)? HAF says Dr. Siddiqui of CCIM spoke at the first convention of IMC


Dr. Ubaid: It is another joke in the HAF report. CCIM was largely defunct by the time I helped launch Indian Muslims Alert Network (ImanNet) and then the larger IMC (Indian Muslim Council USA) after the Gujarat pogrom in 2002. CCIM was a respected group of Indians that was courted by the Indian embassy and consulates in the 1970s and 80s and fizzled out in the 90s. It shows HAF’s true mentality that anything “Indian Muslim” gives them a heart burn. They say Dr. Ahmadullah Siddiqui was in CCIM. I do not know if that was true. What I know that as a result of Hindutva lobby’s accusation that he was the founder of SIMI, American law enforcement agencies investigated Dr. Siddiqui as did his university where he is a professor. They gave him a clean chit. Dr. Siddiqui travels freely to India. The Indian government and US government has put no restrictions on him or charged him. These days even the slight suspicion by Indian and US agencies will get you into legal trouble to say the least. He just gave one speech at the IMC convention and gets so much publicity, maybe we should charge him fees. (smiles)


Siasat: How is your relation with ICNA, ISNA, CAIR and other national organisations of American Muslims?


Dr. Ubaid: They respect my human rights work with CAG, Burma Task Force and Muslim Peace Coalition, but do not like it when I tell American born Muslims and Indian Muslims not to join these organisations. These organisations have to waste so much of their meagre resources defending against false accusations that they are linked to Muslim Brotherhood or Jamate Islami Pakistan. Islamophobes want just that;, and that is why they spend hundreds of millions of dollars in propaganda against American Muslims. But if American born Muslims and Muslims from India, etc launch an organization led by American born Muslims then they can just focus on the job at hand such as getting political and economic empowerment for Muslims. America is such an important country; if Muslims get empowerment here we can help human rights causes all over the world. I invite your readers to google and read my open letter to the US Muslim leadership on how to work in a climate of fear. (…)


Siasat: It is amazing that CAG was able to defeat such a powerful Hindutva lobby in the US and got the Modi visa revoked. Since then, you have defeated the Modi and RSS juggernaut many times. It is beyond the scope of this interview to discuss how you do that time and again but let me ask you this, is it true that you are the founder of CAG and that you had elaborated on your vision in your presidential speech in the Chicago IMC convention in 2004? You see unlike the HAF researchers, I have done my research.


Dr. Ubaid: Well, sorry but I have to say “no comments” on your research. CAG is a collective alliance. It is not important to know who launched it. Lots of people were involved and many are from Hyderabad. What is important is why we launched it. We had to defeat the launch of Modi. What you see in India in 2013, it was planned to have taken place in 2005 in the US. Modi was staying in Waldorf Astoria, was going to speak at Madison Square Garden, and was to inaugurate an India Center in a California university. His visit was to be much grander than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s state visit. We had to make that launch a failure. We planned well and truth was and is on our side. We succeeded and the Modi wing of BJP had to wait for almost a decade to launch him as a national leader and do that in India and not in the US. Not only principles but excellent planning, hard work and consistency must never be compromised if you wish to succeed. We do not have the material resources the Hindutva fronts such as HAF does but we have some brilliant minds, many hard working souls and all of us have hearts of gold that melt at every tiny tear of the oppressed. HAF cannot beat that.

Subhatul Marjan can be reached at [email protected]

(Courtesy: Siasat)

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No sick leave, $1 per hour for maid in US-India row – court papers

NEW DELHI (Reuters) By Alistair Scrutton


India Prospective 2013

India Prospective 2013 (Photo credit: Asia Society)


– An Indian diplomat accused of visa fraud and lying about underpaying her maid coached the nanny to mislead U.S. officials, confiscated her passport and made her work 100-hour, seven-day weeks, according to a U.S. grand jury indictment.


Devyani Khobragade, who was India’s deputy consul-general in New York, was effectively expelled from the United States on Thursday as part of a deal in which she was granted diplomatic immunity from the charges.


U.S. court indictment papers, published on the website of the U.S. attorney’s office of the Southern District of New York, painted a picture of a maid refused sick days and holidays while working for a salary of little over $1 an hour in New York, or about one-seventh the minimum wage.


(To download the court document, click


Khobragade’s arrest set off protests in India after disclosures that she was handcuffed and strip-searched. The dispute soured U.S.-India ties, leading to sanctions against American diplomats in New Delhi and the postponement of visits to India by senior U.S. officials.


Khobragade denies all charges and has been backed by the Indian government. Khobragade’s lawyer Daniel Arshack said on Thursday she would leave with her head “held high.”


“She knows she has done no wrong and she looks forward to assuring that the truth is known,” he said in a statement.


The indictment underscored the wildly divergent stories from both sides. The diplomat’s relatives and government officials say the allegations are exaggerated and are being used by the maid, Sangeeta Richard, to get compensation or U.S. residency.


Many Indian commentators said Richard had a relatively comfortable life, with full board and lodging, free cable TV and medical care. They say it is misleading to calculate weekly working hours for live-in staff.


Uttam Khobragade, the diplomat’s father, said Richard lived a luxurious life, that she went to the beauty parlour every alternate week, and purchased an iPhone.


“Does even Nancy Powell‘s maid servant have such luxuries?” he said to Reuters, referring to the U.S. ambassador to India. “She was having a gala time there.”




The indictment said that Khobragade first made the maid sign a contract that stipulated she would be paid around $9.75 an hour. Khobragade told U.S. officials in the visa application that the maid would be paid $4,500 a month.


But on the evening of flying from India to the United States, Richard was called to Khobragade’s house in Delhi.


She was told she needed to sign a second work contract, with a changed maximum salary, including overtime, of 30,000 rupees a month, an illegally low amount under U.S. minimum-wage laws.


Provisions about holidays and sick days were deleted from the contract. The indictment says that the actual hourly wage for the maid, given she was often working more than 100 hours a week, was a little over a $1 an hour.


On once occasion, Khobragade told the maid not to get sick because it was too expensive, the papers say.


On arrival in the United States, the diplomat took the maid’s passport and never returned it, saying it would only be returned at the end of her three-year contract, according to the court papers.


However, Khobragade in October filed a court case in India against Richard claiming she fled with a government passport.


The case has shone a light on U.S. efforts to investigate and prosecute allegations of abuse of foreign employees of diplomats and consular workers after the strengthening in 2008 of the law that protects such employees brought to the United States.


But some Indian commentators say they suspect many abuse allegations have been encouraged by the law and are trumped up charges by domestic workers.


“The U.S. is a highly litigious country where suing people is a sort of favourite pastime,” said Prabhu Dayal, a former Indian consul general in New York, who in 2011 settled a case out of court after accusations he mistreated a domestic worker.


Writing in the Indian newspaper Mail Today, he said the beefed-up law encouraged consulate staff like domestic helpers to complain of mistreatment in order to claim to be a trafficking victim, which in turn could lead to U.S. residency.


Safe Horizon, an organisation that helps victims of abuse, said Richard was likely to apply for a special “T-1” visa for trafficking victims. Such a visa would be valid for up to four years and allow her to work in the United States. It can also lead to lawful permanent residence.


(Additional reporting by Shyamantha Asokan and Sruthi Gottipati; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Raju Gopalakrishnan)


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Canada has NO place for poor Activists from India #discrimination #mustread


Monday, 07 October 2013 | Moushumi Basu | New Delhi

It was a moment of rare honour for Sabitri Patra and Gopal Chandra Mandal — two conservationists from remote villages near Niyamgiri hills and Sunderbans in Odisha and West Bengal respectively. They were invited by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and officially registered by its Secretariat to participate in its meetings in Montreal from October 7 to October 18. 

As per the agreement between the CBD Secretariat and the Canadian Government, the visa of the participants is to be promptly processed free of cost. To their surprise, the duo had to pay for their visa applications, which were rejected on grounds that they possessed insufficient funds in their personal account.

While Gopal is actively involved in restoration of mangrove ecology and developing community-owned mangrove forests in the vicinity of local villages, Sabitri had been working with the Kutia Kondh communities (particularly vulnerable tribal Group) near Niyamgiri hills. She had even participated in the 2012 CBD summit in Hyderabad.

“I was all set to board my flight on Thursday, but just a day before I got a letter from Canada Citizenship and Immigration office saying my application had been rejected,” Gopal said. “I was told I did not have sufficient funds, income or assets… to maintain myself in Canada,” he added.

While the visa officer also considered that the application had not clarified the “Purpose of Visit,” Gopal had a registration letter signed by the Executive Secretary of the CBD confirming that he “has been officially nominated to attend” the concerned CBD meetings.

He also had another letter from a sponsor confirming to cover all his expenses during his stay in Canada. Further, even the return air ticket was furnished along with the application. However, in spite of all these documents, they rejected the visa.

For her part, Sabitri also faced a similar plight. “Poor persons like us cannot hope to go to Canada,” an upset Sabitri said.S Faizi, ecologist, chairing the Board of CBD Alliance and specialising in International Environmental Policy, said, “Canada has breached the headquarters’ Agreement it has signed at the highest level with the United Nations Environment Programme for hosting the CBD Secretariat.”


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Narendra Modi shall NOT be granted visa: US official


August 16, 2013 ,


A top American official has opposed the grant of visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi because of the “very serious” doubts that remain over his role in the 2002 riots in the state.

“Modi shall not be granted the privilege of United States visa because of the very serious doubts that remain and that hang over Modi relative to his role in the horrific events of 2002 in Gujarat,” said Katrina Lantos Swett, vice chairwoman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The bipartisan government commission reviews the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations and makes policy recommendations to the US President, the Secretary of State and the Congress.

“There are many, many unanswered questions that remain, there are many grave allegations, there are huge doubts,” she was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

When asked about the possibility of Modi’s nomination as the Bharatiya Janata Party‘s prime ministerial candidate for the next Lok Sabha polls, she said, “It is no outside nation’s or no individual’s role to tell them who should be the next leader of India.”

“For the people of India, I think it is important for them to consider very carefully who it is who they want to be their next prime minister,” she added.

In 2005, the US denied Modi a diplomatic visa and revoked his existing tourist/business visa under the Immigration and Nationality Act, which makes a foreign government official who is responsible for particularly severe violations of religious freedom ineligible for an American visa.

“Obviously what happened in 2002 in Gujarat was sectarian violence on a really massive scale. I don’t think you can say that that wasn’t a religious issue. It was a religious issue and the 2005 visa denial harks back to that,” she said.

Modi has been lobbying hard to get the decision reversed.

During a recent visit to the US, BJP President Rajnath Singh had said he would request for a review of the visa ban on Modi.

When pointed out that courts have not yet found any evidence of Modi’s involvement in the 2002 riots, Swett said, “Certainly in our system of justice you can be found not guilty, which is not the same thing as found innocent.”

“Under these circumstances we should follow our laws, which say that we should not give a visa. Of course, Modi wants us to reverse our position because that would be part of his rehabilitation process,” she said.

“One of the things that concern us is that Modi seems more concerned with rehabilitating his own reputation than with providing recompense and rehabilitation for the surviving victims of those terrible events,” she added.


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Nandan Nilekani’s #Aadhaar faces fight from a team of Europay, Mastercard & Visa #UID

200 px


By Sugata Ghosh, ET Bureau | 17 Jun, 2013,
Nandan Nilekani‘s Aadhaar project faces fight from a team of Europay, Mastercard & Visa
MUMBAI: This could be a sign of what the future holds for Aadhaar. Amid an alarming rise in credit card frauds, data thefts and card cloning, a group of bankers will decide in a month the appropriate payment technology for the Indian banking system and retail consumers.
If the group votes for EMV – an internationally accepted technology standard for authenticating credit card, debit card and ATM transactions – Aadhaar, which is comparatively untested and follows a different technology, may face an uncertain future. EVM is a joint initiative between Europay, Mastercard and Visa – the world’s leading payments service providers.
Credit and debit cards that are based on EMV have the card and CVC numbers, which are the key to any electronic transaction, hidden or encrypted. Since encrypted data reduces the risk of cloning or skimming at ATMs and merchant outlets, some of the private banks have started upgrading their systems to EMV standards following recent card frauds.
But, if the group, constituted by the Reserve Bank of India, prefers Aadhaar, banks will have to change their systems, procure biometric machines and prepare for different security standards. Bankers, however, are reluctant to spell out their stand openly because the government thinks Aadhaar can be a game changer in disbursing subsidies to people in far-flung regions.
Besides, banks, particularly the state-owned lenders, are unwilling to take on Nandan Nilekani, the former InfosysBSE 1.05 % CEO who heads the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the state-owned agency that issues the 12-digit Aadhaar numbers.
“Mr Nilekani is pursuing Aadhaar with RBI. He has a standing and has political backing,” said a person familiar with the discussions.
Transition Could Take Some Time
“So, while many banks are in favour of EMV due to rising incidents of frauds, they are quiet, waiting for the committee to submit its report, which is expected by early July,” said the person. If the committee recommends Aadhaar for banks, it will be a victory for UIDAI. Banks will then have to use Aadhaar for not only customer authentication, but also for payments. But even if banks are mandated to implement Aadhaar, the transition could take time and a slice of the market will move back to cash. So, it will be some years before Visa and Mastercard feel the threat.
Indian banks’ payments technology for retail customers is currently at crossroads. ATM transactions are processed through the state-backed National Payments Corporation, which is being positioned as an umbrella organisation for processing all retail payments, while credit and debit card transactions are processed by multinationals like Visa and MasterCard. National Payments Corp, headed by Nilekani’s former boss NR Narayana Murthy, is unable to support EMV at present for its network and will have to change its standards if EMV is implemented by banks.
“What’s drawing banks towards EMV — and many Asian banks have already migrated to it — is the vulnerability of the magnetic stripe technology that’s used for credit and debit card transactions today. Micro devices can be planted in ATMs machines to copy the magnetic stripe and scan the PIN to clone cards. This is not possible in EMV where the data is encrypted,” said a banker.
Highlighting the monopolies in the industry being created, the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) has recommended the Competition Commission to look into the subject. Meanwhile, the RBI governor has set up a committee to come out with a discussion paper on Aadhaar as an additional factor of authentication for card transactions. While Aadhaar can be used for authentication and KYC purposes, the regulator would like a final answer on whether it can be used for payments.





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South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) Condemns Exchange of Fire and Killings along the LoC #India #Pakistan


SAHR is deeply disturbed with the recent exchange of firing and report of the beheading of two Indian jawans along the LoC. The firing and killing of two Indian and one Pakistani jawan is highly deplorable and no sane person or society can accept such unwarranted and gruesome incidences. The said incidences have a potential to derail the ongoing peace process that has shown remarkable progress in recent times in easing the visa regime, improving trade relations and securing many other confidence building measures that hold great promise for both the countries.


Initially Pakistan alleged one Pakistani soldier was killed and another injured in an unprovoked Indian firing and accordingly they summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner Mr. Gopal Baglay and lodged their protest. The report of Pakistani troops crossing LoC in the Mendhar sector of Jammu & Kashmir on Monday and killing two Lance Naik’s is also shocking. The report also says that the body of one of the soldiers was mutilated. India summoned Pakistan’s High Commissioner to protest the gruesome incident. If true, it is reprehensible and must be thoroughly investigated to punish the guilty and ensure such terrible incidences do not recur.


We have learnt that the Director General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of both countries have spoken to each other after the incidents. We urge that suitable mechanisms must be evolved and implemented immediately to ensure that the concerned authorities on both sides are in constant touch to avert recurrence of any such incidences, rather than meet after some damage is done.


We sincerely appeal to both the countries to take immediate steps and see such incidences do not occur in the future. We propose an enquiry by third party be it the  United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) or by any other credible international organisation on the beheading and firing across the LoC. They should also resume normal trade across the LoC and enhance people to people contacts by easing the Visa regime further. According to the New Visa Agreement, visa on arrival facility for senior citizens above 65 years of age at Attari-Wagah Checkpost is to begin on 15th January 2013 and SAHR will see that it is implemented.


Such incidences will only help war mongers and enemies of peace when the need of the hour for both sides is to take the peace process forward. SAHR also does not support the reactionary responses to the incidence by the media and other forces. At the same time we appreciate the position taken by both India and Pakistan governments to continue to push the peace process forward.


We are confident that such dastardly incidences will not affect the dialogue, as it has to be uninterrupted and uninterruptible till we secure complete friendship and peace between our two countries.






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Danish Journalist Tom Heinemann Denied Visa To India

By Neha Dixit

03 February, 2012

Embarrassment and Outrage are the two tags that explain freedom of expression in this country. We were still recuperating from the treatment doled out to Salman Rushdie, who was denied an entry in

India for the Jaipur Literary Festival, when we heard a similar case.

Tom Heinemann, award winning documentary film maker from Denmark has been denied a visa by the Indian Embassy in Copenhagen. Last week, the Indian Embassy stated that no journalist employed at Danish Broadcasting Service (DR) are welcome in India anymore. Still, an unnamed employee at the Indian Embassy said that all other journalists are still welcome. But not Tom Heinemann. The reason: In 2005 he made the film “A Killer Bargain” on the working conditions at i.e. Danish companies in India.The refusal also applies to his wife, Lotte la Cour, who is his

regular television cameraman.

More importantly, the Indian embassy stamped three letters in both their passports – ‘VAF’. It stands for ‘Visa Application Failed’ and, according to Tom Heinemann, a stamp that makes his passport virtually useless in many of the countries he would like to visit. “It’s something you write in the passport of alleged terrorists and villains. I am persona non grata in India for life. It is what it

means. And I have to switch passports, otherwise I can’t go into a lot of other countries, “says Heinemann.

Heinemann has done phenomenal work in his journalistic career. He also won the Grand Jury, Lorenzo Natali Prize for Journalism 2011. His documentary, The Micro Debt raises uncomfortable questions about microcredit. Sparked by his own personal experiences from extensive travel in countries and regions such as India, Bangladesh and South America, Heinemann shows viewers the potential dark side of the microcredit phenomenon. He also highlights human tragedies, such as

suicides that have resulted from the pressure of personal debt or the social exclusion that can ensue when individual misfortune places a borrowing group in jeopardy. The fundamental tenet of microcredit – to provide cheap finance to entrepreneurial individuals in developing countries – is questioned and Heinemann forces his viewers to consider whether the premise that anyone can be an entrepreneur is no more than a hopeful fantas y, instead often ending in an inescapable spiral of


The documentary was broadcast in more than 14 countries. Heinemann and his friends in Denmark are also paying for the education of four children of a common friend they have in India. Tom and his wife wanted to visit these children on a tourist visa.Tom Heinemann has informed the Danish ministry of foreign affairs that he again has been refused a visa.

In a comment, the chairman of the National Danish Union of Journalists, Mogens Blicher Bjerrregaard demands that the government immediately intervene: “The Danish government must explain the Indian authorities that this is not how press freedom works”.There has been no response from the Indian authorities about the matter. Goes without saying, freedom of press and expression is a ferocious facade in this country. Demand what is rightful and the facade gushes forth.

Neha Dixit is a frequent contributor to

She can be reached [email protected]

Tom Heinamann can be contacted at [email protected]

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