India’s Modi

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N. Chandra Mohan’s insightful opinion piece makes the case for the United States to rebuild its India relations taking into account the most likely outcome of Narendra Modi becoming the next prime minister of India (“Rebuild U.S.-India Relations: Let’s Hope the Indian Election Represents a Fresh Start,” May 13 Perspectives).

The author also writes, “The U.S. government, for its part, has to come to terms with Mr. Modi’s controversial past. His role in turning a blind eye to 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat that claimed more than 1,000 lives prompted the United States to deny him a visa in 2005.”

With his long stint as a New Delhi-based commentator, the author could have, and also should have, been more specific about Mr. Modi’s personal and specific role in “turning a blind eye” to the 2002 riots. Simply repeating the boilerplate statements available in the Western media is not helpful in educating readers in southwestern Pennsylvania who may not know anything at all about the background of the 2002 riots in which 1,000 people were killed within three days in the state of Gujarat (population 57 million), as large as Italy in population (59 million).

For starters, Mr. Modi was in power in 2002 for only two or three months. India’s Supreme Court has not blamed Mr. Modi for his commissions and omissions for the deaths of many innocent Muslims in the riots. And publicly available information tells that Mr. Modi did indeed seek from India’s federal government military-type help within 24 hours, and when he sought police/​paramilitary help from his neighboring states ruled by the Congress Party, he did not get any help.

Also, it needs to be stated that the trigger for the 2002 riots in Gujarat was the burning to death of more than 50 Hindu pilgrims — most of them women and children— in a rail car, who were returning home after their pilgrimage.


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