Muslims in Britain are furious over the government’s invitation of an extreme Indian Hindu nationalist minister who was allegedly responsible for the massacre of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002.
Divisive Indian politician, Narendra Modi of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been invited to address MPs in the House of Commons.
Labour MP for Brent North, Barry Gardiner has invited Modi to come and address the House of Commons on the subject of “The Future of Modern India”.
Tory and Labour MPs have defended their decision to invite Modi to speak, saying he needs to be heard because he has “overseen significant economic growth” as chief minister of the state of Gujarat.
But he is regarded by his critics as failing to intervene in communal violence in the area 11 years ago.
Mohammed Patel from Leicester said to 5Pillarz: “This man gave indirect consent to the genocide of Muslims in Gujarat. I lost many family members and friends back in 2002. He and his party BJP are renowned for their hatred towards Islam and Muslims.”
Human rights activist, Hamza Patel from London said to 5Pillarz: “Narendra Modi is an Islamophobic politician and the BJP is an infamous hate party against the Muslim minority of India. What happen to Muslim women and children during the Gujarat riots was horrendous.”
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Gujarat riots 2002
At least a thousand people, mainly Muslims, were killed in Gujarat over three days of violence that was sparked by an attack on a train, which was initially believed to have been carried out by Muslims.
The Modi government had imposed curfews, issued shoot-at-sight orders and called for the army to prevent the violence from worsening but the combined strength of the army and state police proved insufficient.
The Gulbarg Society massacre took place on 28 February 2002, when a Hindu mob attacked a Muslim neighbourhood in Chamanpura, Ahmedabad. Most of the houses were burnt, and at least 35 victims including a former Congress Member of Parliament, Ehsan Jafri, were burnt alive, while 31 others went missing after the incident, later presumed dead, bringing the total deaths to 69 in that area alone.
In April 2009, the Supreme Court of India appointed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to inquire into Modi’s role in the incidents of communal violence. The SIT reported to the court in December 2010 submitting that they did not find any incriminating evidence against Modi of willfully allowing communal violence in Gujarat. The SIT absolved Modi of any involvement in the Gulbarg Society massacre in April 2012.
An online campaign to protest against Modi’s visit to the UK has attracted support.
Kalpana Wilson, of the South Asian Solidarity Group (SASG), strongly disagrees with the invitation. She said: “[They] have invited somebody to address the House of Commons who has been responsible for what can only be called genocidal attacks in which more than two thousand members of the Muslim minority community in Gujarat were targeted for the most horrendous forms of violence and were murdered.
“Women and children were particularly targeted, and this is something which South Asian communities in Britain simply are not able to forget. We’re not prepared to see Modi being rehabilitated as a respectable leading politician, which is what this invitation seems to suggest.”
Mr Modi’s invitation has been popular with some in the business community, including Subhash Thakrar, of the London Chamber of Commerce.
He said: “India is a democratic state with a rule of law. The Supreme Court was involved in investigating these matters. He has got the strongest opposition you can imagine in the [governing] Congress party. The media also have attacked him at various times. If they haven’t succeeded in producing solid enough evidence, then who are we to argue? Let India sort its problems.
“Our problems are economic growth and economic ties with future leaders with various leaders across the world. If he is a prospective prime minister, which he is, we need to make sure that he is well connected with us before other countries do it.”