LONDON: British government has been urged by campaigners in Britain to stop radical Hindu leader and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi from visiting the UK.
Fears of violence have increased after the India groups of the country’s two main political parties Labour and Conservatives invited the radical Hindu leader and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to visit the UK.
Labour Friends of India chairman Barry Gardiner MP sent a letter to Modi - dubbed the Butcher of Gujarat for his role in anti-Muslim violence during the riots in 2002 - inviting him to the House of Commons to speak on ‘The Future of Modern India’.
“The invitation is a culmination of several years of engagement between senior representatives of the Labour Party and Narendra Modi,” the Labour MP for Brent North said.
A group of human rights activist started a petition on Wednesday expressing concern over Modi’s visit. “We strongly believe that Narendra Modi, who is responsible for the 2002 genocidal attacks in which over 2,000 men, women and children from Gujarat’s Muslim minority community were systematically killed, must not be allowed to visit the UK. Modi’s past visits to the UK have been used to raise extensive funds and support for communal violence, and a visit at this time when Modi is launching a campaign to become India’s next prime minister, and continues to try to gain votes using openly fascistic and anti-minority rhetoric, would be particularly dangerous,” the petition said.
“I am sure people in the UK and indeed the international community would be very interested to meet and hear what Narendra Modi has to say first hand. He is a politician who cannot be ignored. I believe it’s in Britain’s best interest that we engage with him as both the chief minister of Gujarat and also potential prime minister,” he added.
The Conservative Friends of India issued their own invite for Modi. Its co-chairman, Sailesh Vara MP, said: “It would be a great privilege for us to host an event for you. I very much hope that you will take us up on this invitation when opportunity allows,” wrote Vara, the Tory MP for North West Cambridgeshire.
The UK government, like the US, had distanced itself from Modi in the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat riots but since then both governments have warmed up to the controversial minister who is known as anti-Muslim. The European Union has also ended its decade-old boycott of the Gujarat chief minister over the issue when envoys and representatives of several EU member countries hosted a luncheon meeting for Modi in New Delhi.
The petition said that in the wake of the 2002 genocide and the extensive documentation of Modi’s role in coordinating and sponsoring it, the UK, other EU, and US governments were compelled to distance themselves from Modi and the Gujarat government.
“However recently we have seen the British government take steps to rehabilitate Modi, as evidenced by meetings between the British High Commissioner and Modi in Ahmedabad. This puts the interests of British corporate wishing to invest in Gujarat ahead of any concerns for human rights and justice, and makes a mockery of the rights of the three British citizens who were murdered during the genocide and whose families are yet to receive justice. We condemn this collusion in Modi’s attempts to deny his role as a mass murderer. We demand that the invitation to Modi is withdrawn and he is refused a visa to the UK.”
Council of Indian Muslim (UK) has also announced that it will hold protests if Modi was invited to the UK. It has called on several occasions to the British government to cancel Modi’s visit visa. Several other human rights groups have said that they will pursue a civil arrest of Modi if he was allowed entry into Britain.
If Modi is allowed to visit the UK then the British government will be asked why it has banned dozens of Muslim preachers from entering the country while rolling out carpet to a leader whose involvement in the
massacre of Indian citizens is now a well documented fact. Several Indian and human rights groups are likely to protest Modi’s visit if he is allowed entry into the UK.A Home Office spokesperson said: “All visa applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules.”