New Delhi, June 14:
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday said she helped former IPL chief Lalit Modi to leave India on “humanitarian grounds” to meet his cancer-afflicted wife in 2013 – before she became a minister.
Sushma Swaraj, in a series of tweets, said she helped Modi after he said his wife was suffering from cancer and was to undergo surgery in Portugal.
The clarification came as a British newspaper said that Keith Vaz, one of Britain’s longest-serving Indian-origin MPs, used her name to pressure Britain’s top immigration official to grant travel papers to Modi.
“…Lalit Modi spoke to me that his wife was suffering from cancer and her surgery was fixed for 4th Aug in Portugal. He told me that he had to be present in the Hospital to sign the consent papers,” Sushma Swaraj tweeted.
“He informed me that he had applied for travel documents in London and UK government was prepared to give him the travel documents. However, they were restrained by a UPA Government communication that this will spoil Indo-UK relations,” she added.
“Taking a humanitarian view, I conveyed to the British High Commissioner that British Government should examine the request of Lalit Modi as per British rules and regulations. If the British Government chooses to give travel documents to Lalit Modi – that will not spoil our bilateral relations’, said the minister.
“Keith Vaz also spoke to me and I told him precisely what I told the British High Commissioner,” she said.
Sushma Swaraj said she “genuinely believe that in a situation such as this, giving emergency travel documents to an Indian citizen cannot and should not spoil relations between the two countries”.
She added few days after that the Delhi High Court quashed an order by Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), which was then in power, to impound Modi’s passport.
“I may also state that only a few days later, Delhi High Court quashed UPA Government’s order impounding Lalit Modi’s passport on the ground that the said order was unconstitutional being violative of fundamental rights and he got his passport back,” she said.
The minister added that the process took place in 2013, a year before she became a minister.
According to the Sunday Times, Vaz personally wrote to Sarah Rapson, the director general of UK visas and immigration, in an effort to expedite Modi’s case. (IANS)