Washington: The United States said Friday a new lawsuit in New York accusing Narendra Modi of “attempted genocide” would not mar the Indian Prime Minister’s long-awaited visit to Washington next week.
A senior US official said that in practical terms, as a foreign head of government, Modi enjoyed immunity from prosecution in the United States and could not be served with a summons. Lawyers for human rights group the American Justice Center (AJC) filed a civil case on Thursday in New York seeking damages from Modi over deadly anti-Muslim riots in 2002.
The violence left at least 1,000 people dead in the western Indian state of Gujarat, where Modi served as chief minister before he was elected prime minister in May.Modi denies any wrongdoing, and the Indian courts have cleared him of all charges.
A senior US official told reporters that there was no fear that the atmospherics of Modi’s visit to the White House on Monday and Tuesday would be tainted by the lawsuit.
“I don’t think there is any fear of the two governments being distracted from what is a very ambitious and exciting agenda,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
The 28-page complaint charges Modi with committing crimes against humanity, extra-judicial killings, torture and inflicting mental and physical trauma on the victims, mostly from the Muslim community. Modi, a Hindu nationalist, was blocked from obtaining a US visa in 2005 over the allegations, which he has always denied.
He is due to arrive in New York later Friday, where he will address the UN General Assembly before heading to meet President Barack Obama on Monday and Tuesday.