New York- A US judge has dismissed a lawsuit charging Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with crimes against humanity during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The New York-based judge upheld the US government's contention that Mr Modi was entitled to immunity as a sitting head of government.

A rights group filed the civil suit against Mr Modi in September on the eve of his maiden visit to the US. More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the religious riots. The riots were sparked by a fire on a train at Godhra in Gujarat that killed 59 Hindu pilgrims.

Mr Modi, who was the chief minister of Gujarat at the time of the riots, came under intense criticism for his handling of the riots. Human rights groups say he failed to take measures to prevent retribution against Muslims. Mr Modi has denied any wrongdoing and Indian courts have cleared him of all charges.

In September, The American Justice Centre filed a lawsuit against Mr Modi, which claimed that he did nothing to stop the riots. The 28-page complaint also charged the prime minister with "committing crimes against humanity, extra-judicial killings, torture and inflicting mental and physical trauma on the victims, mostly from the Muslim community".

Judge Analisa Torres's dismissal of the lawsuit comes ahead of a planned visit to Delhi by US President Barack Obama to attend India's Republic Day celebrations on 26 January at Mr Modi's invitation.

The US and European countries boycotted Mr Modi for more than a decade after the riots, but have largely embraced him after he led his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a landslide election win last year.

Mr Modi visited the US in September and held talks with Mr Obama, where the two leaders called for a "new agenda" between the two countries.

Courtesy BBC News