A top American official has opposed grant of visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi because of the "very serious" doubts that remain over his role in the "horrific" 2002 riots in the state.
"Modi shall not be granted the privilege of US visa because of the very serious doubts that remain and that hang over Modi relative to his role in the horrific events of 2002 in Gujarat," said Katrina Lantos Swett, vice chairwoman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The bipartisan government commission reviews the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations and makes policy recommendations to the US President, the secretary of State and Congress.
"There are many, many unanswered questions that remain, there are at are many grave allegations, there are huge doubts," she was quoted as saying by the New York Times.
When asked about the possibility of Modi's nomination as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate for the next Lok Sabha polls, she said, "It is no outside nation's or no individual's role to tell them who should be the next leader of India."
"For the people of India, I think it is important for them to consider very carefully who it is who they want to be their next prime minister," she added.
In 2005, the US denied Modi a diplomatic visa and revoked his existing tourist/business visa under the Immigration and Nationality Act, which makes a foreign government official who is responsible for particularly severe violations of religious freedom ineligible for an American visa, the NYT said.
"Obviously what happened in 2002 in Gujarat was sectarian violence on a really massive scale. I don't think you can say that that wasn't a religious issue. It was a religious issue and the 2005 visa denial harks back to that," she said.