Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi Facts

Information and analysis about Narendra Modi, India's prime minister since 2014, and the network of Hindu nationalist organisations around him.

Why was Modi denied a US visa?

In March 2005, Modi was denied a diplomatic visa to the US and his existing tourist and business visa was revoked. This was thanks largely to a grassroots campaign in the US centred on his involvement in the communal violence in Gujarat in 2002. Katrina Lantos Swett, vice chairwoman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has written on the reasons why USCIRF recommends visa denial. She makes clear that this is a carefully considered and researched decision based on questions about his level of involvement in violence in Gujarat 2002, and the failure to bring justice to many of the victims. She also states that "Mr. Modi wants us to reverse our position because that would be part of his rehabilitation process".

One factor in continuing the ban was a letter from 65 MPs in the Indian parliament to US president Barack Obama urging him to deny Modi a US visa. Nine of these MPs subsequently denied signing the letter, but a forensic expert certified that the document was genuine and created in one event, suggesting that these nine MPs subsequently worried that their actions might appear "unpatriotic". In Feb 2014, the US ambassador to India, Nancy Powell, met Modi suggesting the visa ban may be lifted, although the US later stated that there was no change in US visa policy.

In 2014, UK-based Sangh Parivar lobbyists lobbied to get Modi to visit the UK, following the lifting of a ban on Modi travelling to the UK. There was significant opposition to this, including a motion in the UK parliament to get the ban reinstituted. A large number of UK-based academics wrote an open letter expressing deep concern at a possible Modi victory in the general elections. Given the murder of two British citizens during the Gujarat violence, there remains the possibility of legal action against Modi in the UK if he visits.

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last updated: Oct. 2019