San Jose, California, Jul 7, 2006.
a strongly worded letter to the Federation of Indian Associations
Gujarati Association of North America (GANA), over 30 South Asian
American organizations have questioned FIA & GANA's decision to
Minister Narendra Modi and Gujarat Health Minister Ashok Bhatt to
attend the First Gujarati Convention, which is to be held at New Jersey
later this week.
of the organizations currently protesting Mr. Modi's and Mr. Bhatt's
inclusion in the list of invitees had come together last year to form
the Coalition Against Genocide (www.coalitionagainstgenocide.org
), a group of over 40
organizations that had worked together last year to oppose Mr. Modi's
scheduled visit to the US in March 2005. A concerted campaign on part
this coalition to oppose a similar convention organized by the Asian
American Hotel Owners Association last year had resulted in the US
State Department's denial of diplomatic visa to Mr. Modi, as well
as the revocation of his existing tourist/ business visa under
and Nationality Act. Section 212 (a) (2) (g) which makes any foreign
government official who "was responsible for or directly carried out,
at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom"
ineligible for a visa to the United States.
Modi gained international notoriety when in 2002 his BJP government was
unequivocally implicated in the brutal pogroms against the Muslim
the state of Gujarat. More than 2000 people were murdered by Mr. Modi's RSS, BJP, VHP and Bajrang Dal cadres. Not
less than 150,000 Muslims have been made refugees in their own state,
under the constant threat of violence and brutality at the hands of
Mr. Modi's government and the Hindutva fascist apparatus. Details of the carnage and its aftermath are available at:
speeches throughout the state, Mr. Modi openly incited violence against
Muslims before, during and after the genocide of 2002.
Mr. Ashok Bhatt is also widely regarded as one of the chief architects of the 2002 violence against the Muslims in Gujarat. The
Concerned Citizen's Tribunal, led by several distinguisted jurists in
India documented his involvement in inciting arson and destruction at
several places in Ahmedabad during the carnage. According to their report, Crimes Against Humanity, Mr. Bhatt was present at a secret meeting in Lunawada on Feb 27th
2002, the day of the Godhra mishap, where the details of the planned
violence which was to later engulf the state were discussed. The National Human Rights Commission also noted that Mr. Bhatt "[monitored] the progress of the riots from the City Police Control room."
Gujarati meetings are planned this summer in New Jersey, following an
apparent split amongst the Gujarat community organizers. The
first meeting, the First Gujarati Convention, is being organized by
Federation of Indian Associations and the Gujarati Associations of
North America. Different news articles
 have reported that members from FIA, including Sudhir Parikh, the
President of the FIA and Mr. Ramesh Patel, Chairman of GANA, have
extended invitations to the Gujarat CM Mr. Modi for the meeting in
July. Another Non-Resident-Gujaratis meeting in September, the World
Gujarati Conference 2006, also to be held in New Jersey is also
inviting Mr. Modi as per newspaper reports.
letter from concerned South Asian groups takes the organizers of the
First Gujarati Convention to task for "honoring individuals such as Mr.
Modi and Mr. Bhatt, who have a long record of participating in
sectarian hatred and communalism" and who "[do] no justice to Gujarat's
long tradition of hospitality and tolerance." While it is not clear whether either Mr. Modi
or Mr. Bhatt are actually attending the convention, the invitation
itself is an implicit endorsement of their divisive agenda of sectarian
hatred and violence.
the recent spate of violence in Vadodara proves, Gujarat under Mr. Modi
and Mr. Bhatt remains a hostile place for minorities; a fact hardly
worth celebrating but one that demands serious introspection on the
part of all Indians.
Contact: mail [at] friendsofsouthasia.org , info [at] stopfundinghate.org