Narendra Modi UK visit: Cameron urged to raise human rights with Indian PM

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi © Cathal McNaughton
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Scottish National Party (SNP) MP Alex Salmond have signed a parliamentary motion calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to raise human rights concerns with Indian PM Narendra Modi when he visits the UK in November.

The Early Day Motion (EDM) urges the government to investigate reports of human rights atrocities in Kashmir and the ongoing detention of multiple political prisoners, several of whom are on hunger strike.

Sponsors of the motion include Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and the SNP’s Paul Monaghan. The majority of supporters are from the Labour Party, with the exception of four Labour MPs who announced they would donate their pay rise to help fund a welcome reception for the Indian PM.

Monaghan told the International Business Times UK he sponsored the EDM because he wants India’s leaders to review their human rights record.

“I was very happy to support the Early Day Motion in respect of the promotion of human rights in India,” he said.

“While I recognize and respect the right of the people of India to develop their culture and their society as they see fit, I would equally, with the greatest of respect, ask political leaders in India to review the circumstances surrounding the hunger strikes and other protests currently being undertaken by individuals fighting for recognition of human rights in that country.”

Jeremy Corbyn signed the motion as a supporter, rather than sponsor, having previously sponsored a motion in 2013 calling on the Home Office to reinstitute a ban on Modi due to “his role in communal violence in 2002 in Gujarat.”

Modi was governor of Gujarat when outbreaks of violence led by Hindu nationalists against Muslims caused hundreds of deaths, instances of rape and looting.

Official figures state 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed in the riots, which some academics have described as a pogrom.

At the time Modi was accused of being ambivalent to the violence, and even condoning the attacks on Gujarat’s Muslim population. A Special Investigation Team set up by the Supreme Court of India cleared Modi in 2012 of complicity in the violence, a ruling which has been challenged by Muslim community leaders.

The motion was initiated by Jim Cunningham, Labour MP for Coventry South, who also criticized the Indian government’s decision to ban a BBC documentary about the horrific gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi.

‘India’s Daughter’ was banned by the Indian government upon its release in March, ostensibly to prevent the filmmakers from gaining “commercial benefit” from the tragic incident.

The EDM also concerns the ongoing incarceration of political prisoners, several of whom are on hunger strike, including Bapu Surat Singh in Punjab, Devinderpal Singh Bhullar and Dr. Gokarakonda Naga Saibaba.

Cameron has come under fire for valuing business deals over human rights in his talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is currently visiting the UK on a four-day state visit.

Muslim activist demands Modi’s arrest

A British Muslim community activist has requested that police arrest and charge Modi for his alleged responsibility for the 2002 violence in Gujarat.

Tariq Mahmood of the Pakistan Patriotic Front registered his complaint at the Deptford Police Station in South London on Wednesday, according to Pakistani daily The International News.

In a statement, Mahmood blames Modi for the death of three British citizens in the riots.

Modi was not allowed to enter the UK at one time but the decision was later changed due to political and business considerations. He was directly responsible for what happened in Gujarat,” he said.

The responsibility for the murder of three Britons lies with Modi. Families of victims have said so and the fact that he was banned means that the UK has evidence of his involvement.”

Britain was one of the first western nations to end its diplomatic boycott on Modi in October 2012, when the UK’s High Commissioner to India met with the then-governor of Gujarat in Gandhinagar.

Foreign Minister Hugo Swire said the change of heart was “in line with the British government’s stated objective of improving bilateral relations with India.

#SikhLivesMatter

Hundreds of British Sikh protesters are outside the Indian Embassy in London to demonstrate against the plight of ethnic minorities in India.

Recent deaths in Punjab have again brought to light the plight of ethnic minorities in India,” the Sikh Press Association reports. “Sikhs have continually found themselves victims of the most severe kind of police brutality, leading to the death of unarmed protesters and even bystanders during gatherings.

However, there still seems to be a lack of empathy regarding the suffering of Sikhs. As such, the social media #SikhLivesMatter has been created to draw attention to the acts of Indian government’s atrocities which often go unnoticed in the mainstream media.