WikiLeaks Release Files on US Denial of Modi’s Visa - The New Indian Express

WikiLeaks Release Files on US Denial of Modi’s Visa

Published: 25th April 2014 08:10 AM

Last Updated: 25th April 2014 09:49 AM

On the day BJP prime ministerial candidate did a triumphant roadshow in Varanasi, WikiLeaks released a new tranche of 5,173 documents of the US embassy in India which include an account of how the US had denied visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in 2005.

According to the cable released on Thursday, on March 18, 2005, US Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Blake had first contacted BJP leader Yashwant Sinha before the news “hit the wires” to give him a heads-up.

Then, the US consul general in Mumbai called on Gujarat resident commissioner in New Delhi Aral Meena to convey the decision. “Meena appeared genuinely shocked that the visa had been denied, and perhaps more than a little concerned at having to pass on the bad news,” said the report.

The cable then talks about reactions, including furious responses from the BJP and a more formal one from the Indian Government.

“The Congress-led UPA Government now finds itself in the awkward position of defending one of its harshest opponents, but its protest appears to be more in the order of going through the motions in “the national interest” than a spirited defense of Modi,” said the US embassy cable.

It also noted that the BJP will close ranks behind Modi, “Although his many opponents within the BJP will privately applaud his predicament, while making pro-forma protestations of outrage”.

Earlier, it had noted that Modi remained “unpopular inside and outside the party”.

US diplomats received personal calls of praise from Gujarat civil society members, including rights activist Javed Anand.

“Although this incident will chill our relations with the Gujarat Government and the BJP, we do not expect serious or long term national consequences,” the cable dated March 18, 2005, said of the decision to deny Modi’s A2 visa and revoke his valid B1/B2.

After the revocation, US consul general did meet with Modi again in 2006, but termed that the atmosphere was rather “chilly”.

It was only this year that the US has formally again made overtures to Modi with ambassador Nancy Powell calling on him in Gandhinagar.

Another startling revelation in the WikiLeaks cable is that in 2008, Kashmiri separatists were planning to join elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

The secret cable dated February 1, 2007, provide details of meeting between US Deputy Political Consular and moderate Kashmiri separatists leader Bilal Lone.

The moderate leader had made it clear that the Indian Government need to make some more improvements on the ground in order to make it safe enough for separatists to join the electoral process.

Bilal spoke also about his party’s efforts to unite the rest of the moderate separatist leaders in Srinagar along a single platform. He said the group would try to approach Yasin Malik about joining its efforts, or at least not to openly oppose them, increasing their chances of being killed.

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