M A I N   N E W S

PM criticises USA for visa denial
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 19
Taking strong exception to the decision of the USA to deny visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said it was not “appropriate” to use allegations to make a “subjective judgement” to question a constitutional authority of India.

“We respect their sovereign right to grant or refuse visa to any person. However, we do not believe that it is appropriate to use allegations or anything less than due legal process to make a subjective judgement to question a constitutional authority in India,” Dr Singh told the Rajya Sabha.

Sharing the concern voiced by members from all political parties, he said, “We agree this is not a matter of partisan politics, rather a matter of concern over a point of principle. I think, the government’s prompt and firm response clearly shows our principled stand in this matter.”

His statement came after Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Jaswant Singh said the ground on which Mr Modi was denied visa was totally unacceptable.

The USA has said its decision to deny diplomatic visa to and revoke tourist/business visa of Mr Modi was based on findings of the National Human Rights Commission that said his government “failed” to control “persistent violations of rights”.

“When I came to know about the denial of visa to Mr Modi yesterday, I instructed the External Affairs Minister to call the US Ambassador and explain to them that we were greatly concerned over the decision.”

He said his government had taken note of the developments arising out of the US decision and was also “greatly concerned” at the American action to revoke other categories of visas already issued to the Gujarat Chief Minister.

He said Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran had yesterday summoned the Deputy Chief of the US Mission Robert Blake to convey “strong demarche” on the decision of the US government.

“Our government has pointed out its concern and regret over the US decision to deny a visa to a constitutionally-elected Chief Minister of a state of our country.

We have observed that this uncalled for decision means denying due courtesy to an elected authority,” he said.

“We have also called for the reconsideration of the decision by the US government,” the Prime Minister added.

Raising the issue soon after the House met, Mr Jaswant Singh expressed concern over the developments and said the External Affairs Ministry “stood boldly for India...that is the function of the Ministry of External Affairs. I will be failing if I do not acknowledge this fact.”

Stating that certain allegations contained in the letter of US Congressmen were “tendentious and totally false”, the BJP leader said this was the first time that provisions under a specific US statute had been applied. “It raises the question why the State Department has chosen India to apply these?,” he asked.


USA assessing India’s request
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 19
The US Embassy here has forwarded Ministry of External Affairs’ request for reconsideration of denial of visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to Washington and a decision is awaited, diplomatic sources in the Embassy told this correspondent this evening.

Even if Washington reverses its decision, Mr Modi will not be able to make it as the conference in New York, for which he has been invited, is scheduled to take place tomorrow.

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