US Court Summons Indian PM Modi Ahead Of First U.S. Visit

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On Thursday, the human rights group American Justice Center filed the suit in Manhattan federal court on behalf of two unnamed survivors of the violence that occurred in Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat in 2002. The plaintiffs are seeking monetary and punitive damages against Modi based on allegations that he didn’t do enough to stop the religious riots that tore through Gujarat when he was chief minister and all but accuses him of an act of genocide.

Not a great start to Narendra Modi’s visit

It appears that the summons issued by the New York federal court today comes without a judge’s ruling of prima facie evidence but rather is a “pro forma” summons that will not impact Modi’s visit that includes a sold out speaking appearance that he will make to his New York supporters at Madison Square Garden though one could argue it might cast a small shadow on the visit.

“There’s no question it’s precisely the wrong foot on which to begin Modi’s visit to the United States,” said Milan Vaishnav, an associate on South Asia at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace ” I don’t expect it in any material way to affect any of his engagements in the United States, either with private citizens or private industry in New York or in Washington with the U.S. administration.”

Vaishnav also pointed out to the Associated Press that U.S. courts also summoned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and ruling party leader Sonya Gandhi ahead of their visits to the States due to another rights group’s lawsuit that ultimately went nowhere.

The lawsuit and denials

Modi has denied any role in the violence that gripped his home state but the United States did deny him a visa to travel to the United States but when it was abundantly clear that he would be elected as Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy the State Department quickly changed its ruling and Modi will have no troubles with his entry.

The lawsuit says, “There is evidence to support the conclusion that Minister Modi committed both acts of intentional and malicious direction to authorities in India to kill and maim innocent persons of the Muslim faith.”

This was quickly rebuked today by Bizay Sonkar Shastri, a spokesman for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

“Our court and our public have given clean chit to (Modi) and he became prime minister,” Shastri said. “So how is it possible that another country’s’ man or authority is issuing a summons?”

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