India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi
A US JUDGE on Wednesday (January 14) dismissed a lawsuit against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that accused him of “attempted genocide” over deadly anti-Muslim riots in 2002.
New York judge Analisa Torres threw out the suit on the grounds that Modi is not under her court’s jurisdiction after the US government argued he was entitled to immunity as a sitting head of government.
The American Justice Center, a human rights group, filed the civil suit against Modi in September, accusing him of initiating and condoning the massacre and holding him responsible for the deaths.
The outbreak of anti-Muslim violence left at least 1,000 people dead in 2002 in the western state of Gujarat, where Modi was then chief minister before he was elected prime minister in 2014.
Modi denies any wrongdoing and the Indian courts have cleared him of all charges.
But the failure of his administration to control the violence and his refusal to apologize left a legacy of distrust and suspicion.
The judge’s order to close the case came two weeks before US President Barack Obama is to be guest of honor at India’s Republic Day celebrations on January 26.
There was no immediate response from the American Justice Center.
The lawsuit had been filed one day before Modi visited New York and Washington for the first time as Indian leader.
The 28-page complaint claimed that Modi committed crimes against humanity, extra-judicial killings, torture and the infliction of mental and physical trauma on victims, mostly Muslims.
Modi, was blocked from obtaining a US visa in 2005 over the allegations, which he has always denied.
But Obama gave him to a lavish welcome at the White House in September. At the time officials said the suit would not detract from the determination of both sides to forge closer relations.
The United States and European powers boycotted Modi for more than a decade after the riots, but have largely embraced him after his Bharatiya Janata Party won a landslide election victory.
US Secretary of State John Kerry held talks with Modi in India on the sidelines of a major trade summit on Sunday (January 11), hailing him as a “visionary” poised to transform the Indian economy.
Kerry was criticized at home and in Europe for chosing to remain in India rather than attend a march in Paris with other international leaders condemning attacks in France that killed 17 people.