Prime Minister, David Cameron, is not known for being scrupulous about detail, leading to many U-turns and policy reversals. But one would think he had an array of astute advisers, particular on our country’s foreign relations. It thus feels more than a little disconcerting that not only he has invited India’s nationalist premier to London but he will reportedly give Narendra Modi the full red carpet treatment.
There had been a time when Britain imposed a diplomatic freeze on the extremist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader which lasted a decade given the accusation that he was complicit in failing to stop the killing of thousands of Muslims when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. Up to 2,000 or more were killed by Hindus, including three British citizens. Modi further exacerbated the conflict by imposing a curfew in major cities and issued shoot-to-kill orders for the army.
Saeed and Shakeel Dawood and Mohammed Aswat were three British citizens murdered by the Hindu mob. Their family members have asked our Government for justice and to raise these concerns when UK reopened relations in October 2012 with Modi when he was still the Chief Minister of Gujarat. However, this did not happen.
The British Government does not have a good record on foreign policy, especially in its close relationships with such countries as Israel. In inviting Modi to London, Cameron is being accused of putting vested trade and business interests before human rights concerns. Under Modi’s Government, India is becoming more sectarian with recent reports suggesting that Muslims are not being allowed to rent or buy properties in Hindu areas and that attacks against minorities including Muslims have increased. As a way of registering their discontent with the situation, more than two dozen India writers have recently returned awards conferred on them earlier by the Government.
As reported elsewhere in the paper, the Indian Prime Minister was recently accused of staying silent in the face of a Muslim father being brutally beaten to death with bricks by an angry Hindu mob in a village near New Delhi after rumours circulated that his family had eaten beef. A BJP Member of Parliament has also been calling for the Muslim birth rate to be curbed.
Any visit to Britain by such a controversial and divisive figure as Modi can hardly be good for inter-community relations in this country. But according to the Financial Times, the British Government is looking for ways to use the Indian Diaspora living in the UK to improve the relationship between the two countries, which has been difficult during the past few years.
Yet at what cost to Muslims who feel their basic rights are being trampled upon in the world’s second most populous country? And will Cameron take the issue of the murdered British Muslims and demand justice? Looks like economic interest will prevail over human rights, yet again.
[Photo: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi]