The US embassy has revoked a visa for the Hindu-nationalist chief minister of Gujarat
, citing his role in 2002 religious riots in the western state that killed hundreds of Muslims.
Chief Minister Narendra Modi's request for a diplomatic visa to travel to the United States was denied on Friday and his existing tourist/business visa was revoked, said an embassy spokesman, who asked not to be identified.
Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party condemned the US decision.
"We think there must have been some sort of mistake. No court in India has found Mr Modi guilty of any crimes," Sidrath Nath Singh, a spokesman for the BJP, told Aljazeera.net.
"We are a democratic country with our own legal system in place. It is not for the US to look into our laws. We do not need a certificate from them."
The US embassy spokesman said a US law that makes any foreign government official who "was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom" made Modi ineligible for a visa.
"The US government should look at its own humanitarian violations before they look at others," Singh said.
He told Aljazeera.net the Indian government was looking into Modi's visa rejection.
"The US government should look at its own humanitarian violations before they look at others"
Sidrath Nath Singh, BJP spokesman
"We are building relations with the US and looking forward to a strong relationship, but denying the leader of Gujarat a visa is very unfortunate."
The religious riots in 2002, which killed about 1000 people - mostly Muslims - were sparked by an attack on a train car in which 60 Hindus returning from a religious pilgrimage were burned to death. Muslim mobs were blamed for the fire.
n January a railway inquiry concluded the train fire was accidental.
But human rights groups accused Modi's Bharatiya Janata party-led state government of doing little to stop the violence, and the Supreme Court criticised its lenient handling of Hindus accused of slaughtering Muslims.
The embassy official also said Modi "was denied a diplomatic visa under the US Immigration and Nationality Act because he was not coming for the purpose that qualified for a diplomatic visa." He did not elaborate.
"Our nation should not reward a man accused of complicity in the massacre of civilians by granting him a visa or a place of honour at a convention"
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Modi had been scheduled to be the guest of honour at the Asian American Hotel Owners Association's annual convention in Florida.
But the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair), which urged the blocking of Modi's entry, last month said: "Our nation should not reward a man accused of complicity in the massacre of civilians by granting him a visa or a place of honour at a convention."
Modi also planned to meet with overseas Indians in Florida and in New Jersey.