Millennium Post

Rights group suspected of forging anti-Modi letter

Suspicions have arisen that the circulation of letter demanding no issue of US visa to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi could be the handiwork of a left-wing rights group.  Adding fuel to the controversy over the letter written to US President Barack Obama allegedly by 65 Members of Parliament, senior Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury on Wednesday denied signing any letter seeking denial of US visa to Modi and said the letter in circulation was a ‘cut and paste’ work. Nine MPs (including Yechury) have claimed that their signatures were forged in this letter.

The copies of the letter were forwarded to the media persons by activist Shabnam Hashmi, who runs a group called ANHAD (Act Now for Harmony and Democracy), established in March 2003, as ‘a response to 2002 Gujarat riots. Hashmi is known to be close to the left-wing intellectuals and had earlier worked with SAHMAT, the group founded by her brother Safdar Hashmi. Hashmi and SAHMAT were at one point of time enjoying patronage of Congress leaders like Arjun Singh.

Meanwhile, the Congress too distanced itself from the controversy. ‘We have nothing to do with it. It is up to the US government to issue visa to Modi,’ said Congress leader Digvijaya Singh. DMK MP from Rajya Sabha KP Ramalingam, CPI MP Achutan, Nationalist Congress Party MPs Vandana Chavan and Sanjeev Naik, Congress MPs Marotrao Kowase, Anil Lad and Jayantrao Avale have also denied signing the letter. Two Congress MPs - Pradip Bhattacharya and Joy Abraham - said that they do not remember if they had signed the letter. ‘I deny having signed any such letter,’ said Yechury.

‘The one circulating in cyberspace, now many months after it was allegedly signed, is typed on the letterhead of an MP that carries the insignia of our national symbol the Ashok Chakra. The heading under which some signatures are appended says: ‘names and signatures of Indian MPs’,’ he added.
‘Strange, which other country’s MPs would sign on the letterhead of the Indian parliament? This itself suggests some efforts at cut and paste. It is not in my nature to write to presidents of other countries telling them what they should do with the visas of Indian nationals,’ said the CPI-M leader.
The letter carrying signatures of several Indian parliamentarians was dispatched to both the US president and the British prime minister last year.

A copy of the letter was resent to the White House Tuesday after Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh, on a visit to the US, asked the government there to issue a visa to Modi. BJP spokesperson Prakash Javedkar said tirade seemed to be a conspiracy as many of the signatories have denied of signing the letter. ‘It is a Congress dirty trick department which is at work now,’ he said.
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