WASHINGTON: Washington’s position on the 2002 Gujarat riots has not changed and the omission of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s name from a human rights report does not indicate a policy shift, a US official has said.
State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters at the daily briefing that there was no change in the US policy on the Gujarat riots, while responding to questions on the latest annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released by Secretary of State John Kerry.
“There is no change in policy. There’s no editing error,” Psaki told reporters yesterday when asked about the omission of the Gujarat Chief Minister’s name from the State Department’s congressionally mandated report on India and whether it reflected a policy shift.
“The 2013 Human Rights Report focuses on events that took place between January and December of 2013. We generally provide updates on significant developments that occurred during the reporting period related to events included in past reports.
“So obviously, our position with respect to the 2002 communal violence is clear and has been thoroughly documented in our Human Rights Reports over time, including the most recent report,” she said.
The annual reports of the 2011 and 2012 mentions Modi in its report but in no way refers to his alleged role in the communal riots.
The latest report said, “Civil society activists continued to express concern about the Gujarat government’s failure to protect the population or arrest many of those responsible for communal violence in 2002 that resulted in the killings of more than 1,200 persons, the majority of whom were Muslim, although there was progress in several court cases,” the report said.
“The Gujarat government appointed the Nanavati-Mehta Commission to investigate the 2002 violence. In December the Gujarat government granted an extension for the 21st time, extending the commission to June 30, 2014,” it said.
The State Department said the Gujarat government withdrew its consent to seek the death penalty for former minister Maya Kodnani and others convicted in the 2002 Naroda Patiya violence that killed 97 Muslims.
“We also note that we cite our concerns about several instances of communal violence, as I mentioned yesterday, but our goal is to use illustrative cases to shed light on the nature, scope and severity of human rights abuses we report, not to comprehensively catalogue every human rights violation or abuse that occurred,” Psaki said.
“And again, when there are significant developments – whether that’s a legal case or issues along those lines – those are what are included. So it is not an indication of a change in policy or anything along those lines,” she said.Paski, during her daily briefing on Thursday, had also said there was no change in the US policy on communal riots in Gujarat.
On being asked about US Ambassador to India Nancy Powell’s meeting with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Psaki yesterday said it was part of US’ outreach effort across the Indian political spectrum.
“Ambassador Powell and the US consuls general are engaging in comprehensive outreach across India to senior leaders in political parties, business organisation and NGOs,” Psaki said.
“Starting last November, Ambassador Powell has shared and listened to the views of many on the US-India relationship. I’m not going to outline every meeting or confirm every meeting, but I can assure you that her engagement is broad,” she said.