India made it very clear on Saturday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrived on a five-day visit to the US, was “ring fenced” and there was no question of anyone serving any summons on him and that an action in the matter was underway.
India’s strong reaction came a day after a federal US court issued summons against Modi on his alleged role in 2002 communal violence in Gujarat when he was the state chief minister.
Even the White House downplayed the issue, with its Press Secretary Josh Earnest saying that it (lawsuit) was not going to have any impact on Prime Minister Modi’s very important visit and added that sitting heads of government also enjoy personal inviolability while in the US, which means they cannot be personally handed or delivered papers to begin the process of a lawsuit.
Asked about the summons, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, “Indian representative is ring fenced. There is no question of anyone serving any summons on India’s sovereign representative. Let’s make it very clear, there will be no such issues. State Department has also clarified today.”
He said that the government will handle the process in accordance with the procedure and an action was underway on that.
The summons against Modi were issued by US Federal Court for the Southern District of New York following a lawsuit filed by the New York-based American Justice Center (AJC), a non-profit human rights organization, along with two “unnamed” survivors of the 2002 Gujarat violence.
Earlier, the spokesperson had termed the case as a “frivolous and malicious attempt to distract attention from the visit of the Prime Minister to the United Nations General Assembly and a bilateral summit with the president of the United States . . . . “The Indian-American community in the US is also eagerly looking forward to the Prime Minister’s visit and has prepared a rousing reception for him.
“The allegations in the case are baseless and similar to other such allegations made in the past against the Prime Minister. A Supreme Court of India-monitored investigation has comprehensively examined and dismissed these allegations as baseless,” he said.
“It is unfortunate that vested interests are raking up the matter only to vitiate the atmosphere during the visit. Appropriate steps are being taken to address the matter,” he added.