Prime Minister Narendra Modi was given the same kind of protection from prosecution in the US that was recently afforded to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a US State Department spokesperson said in a briefing on Friday.
Pressed about granting immunity to the crown prince over the brutal killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in which he is an accused, US State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said PM Modi was among those who had received similar protection.
“This is not the first time that the United States has done this. It is a longstanding and consistent line of effort. It has been applied to a number of heads of state previously,” Mr Patel told a journalist.
“Some examples: President Aristide in Haiti in 1993, President Mugabe in Zimbabwe in 2001, Prime Minister Modi in India in 2014, and President Kabila in the DRC in 2018. This is a consistent practice that we have afforded to heads of state, heads of government, and foreign ministers,” he said.
India is yet to comment on the remarks.
The US had placed PM Modi on a visa ban in 2005 over allegations that his government did nothing to stop the 2002 riots in Gujarat as Chief Minister.
Until his election as Prime Minister in 2014, the US maintained that there is “no change in its policy”, even after the United Kingdom and the European Union ended their boycott.
PM Modi has been cleared of any wrongdoing by investigations into the Gujarat riots. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal against his exoneration in one of the cases linked to the killings.
Over 1,000 people were killed in the three-day violence in Gujarat in 2002 and the state police faced grave charges of not doing enough to stop the riots that began after a train coach carrying pilgrims was burnt in Godhra, killing 59 people.