[Reader-list] Chief Minister linked to Gujarat massacres to visit UK . . .
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Wed Aug 13 15:38:42 IST 2003
PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 12/08/03
Name of organisation: Women Living Under Muslim Laws-international
Email: wluml at wluml.org
Chief Minister linked to Gujarat massacres to visit UK
To: Home news editors, foreign editors,
The Chief Minister of the Indian State of Gujarat, Narendra Modi,
will visit the UK for an engagement at London's Wembley Conference
Centre on Sunday 17th August, 2003.
Modi is a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) propagator and leader of
the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the political wing of the Hindu
nationalist movement. As Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi is at the
top of the chain of the command of the State legislative,
administrative and enforcement institutions and is also a key member
of the Hindu right wing network implicated in the Gujarat pogrom in
February-March 2002, in which thousands of Muslims throughout the
state were brutally murdered, raped or driven out of their homes.
Modi's visit is ostensibly to attract British-based business to
invest in Gujarat-there will be a 'global investors meeting' at the
end of September in Ahmedabad. But a number of South Asian
organisations in Britain point to the earlier massive
misappropriation of funds collected for earthquake relief in Gujarat
by the network of the Hindu right; they, as well as international
human rights organisations, fear that Modi will also be using his
current visit to gather support and funds from far-right Hindu
organisations in Britain which will be used to promote further
These organisations also fear that Modi's visit and the activities of
his supporters will increase religious tensions among Britain's South
Asian communities. Organisations representing a range of South Asian
communities and groups will be demonstrating outside the meeting on
Many of the alleged perpetrators of the 2002 Gujarat massacres were
acquitted in the State's courts for `lack of evidence', and impunity
is still enjoyed by state of Gujarat cabinet ministers and officials
who were involved in planning and committing human rights violations.
The same impunity also extends to the lower level officials that
implemented the plan and to the mob and its leaders that perpetrated
the crimes. In Gujarat, the members of the Hindu supremacist groups
Rashtriya Swayam Sevaks (RSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and
Bajrang Dal (Hindu right wing youth group) that formed the mob are
still at large and many have not been investigated by the state of
Muslim victims of the Gujarat massacres continue to face an economic
boycott and are deprived of their sources of livelihood. Women from
the Muslim community continue to face threats of sexual violence
andgirls are being married off in unsuitable alliances for fear of
being sexually violated in future pogroms. The police complicit in
the pogrom continue to intimidate Muslims in regular 'combing'
The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party-the political formation of the Hindu
right) government in power in the state acquitted alleged
perpetrators in serious cases of human rights violations. The
Commissioner of the Enquiry Commission exonerated Chief Minister
Narendra Modi of any involvement in the pogrom even before completing
the hearings. Gujarat state institutions investigate crimes in which
they are themselves heavily implicated. Modi's engagement in London
is as a guest of the Friends of the BJP Abroad.
Applying international law to India is problematic because of its
image as the home of Gandhi and non-violence. Few realize that India
has been politically taken over by Hindu right, which uses the
respectability gained by post-independence India to successfully
disguise its Hindu supremacist agenda and genocidal intent.
We welcome the publication of the article below, 'Gujarat experience
explodes the myth of a strong and an independent Indian judiciary' by
Vahida Nainar, Researcher/Consultant, International Law, Bombay,
India. Extracts can be taken from this article or it can be used in
its entirety without copyright restriction. Please inform us of its
use. The author can be contacted at 07949 550526 (also the out of
Web links for background information:
Human Rights Watch-1st July 2003 "Compounding Injustice-The
Government's failure to Redress Massacres in Gujarat"
http://www.hrw.org/reports/2003/india0703/ Human Rights Watch-April
2002 " 'We Have No Order to Save You'-State Participation and
Complicity in Communal Violence in Gujarat"
Amnesty International-28 March 2002 "The State Must Ensure Redress
for the Victims-A Memorandum to the State of Gujarat on its duties in
the Aftermath of Violence"
Indian National Human Rights Commission-31st May 2002 "Final Order on
Specifically for women focused information: The International
Initiative for Justice in Gujarat-19th December 2003 "An Interim
The Concerned Citizens Tribunal, 22nd November 2002 "Crime Against
Humanity: Gujarat 2002" http://www.sabrang.com/tribunal/index.html
For information about the protest on 17th August 2003 contact South
Asia Solidarity Group: Phone: 0207 267 0923 Email:
southasia at hotmail.com
For further information and interviews relating to this press
release, please contact: Vahida Nainar Tel: 07949 550526 (also the
out of hours number)
Gujarat experience explodes the myth of a strong and an independent
Vahida Nainar Researcher/Consultant, International Law Bombay, India
The level and extent of infiltration of individuals from the Hindu
right wing network in positions of power in different institutions of
governance in the state of Gujarat in India and their complicity in
the pogrom in February-March 2002, left victims and survivors with
very little hope that those responsible will be brought to justice.
Yet, there were incidences of violence with such compelling
testimonies that if investigated and law allowed to take its normal
course, may have resulted in convictions. The acquittal of alleged
perpetrators for 'lack of evidence', in one such case of the Best
Bakery in Baroda, firmly sealed off any expectations of justice from
the state judiciary.
Often after violence of a scale as witnessed in Gujarat in 2002 in
which state officials was involved, there is a tendency to bury the
past and move on. An impartial investigation would likely go against
the government in power and expose its involvement. Political
deal-making prevents action when the government changes and the
opposition takes over thereby generally encouraging a culture of
impunity to prevail. Impunity to the state officials in positions of
power that were involved in planning, ordering and abetting serious
crimes and human rights violations, impunity to the lower level
officials that implemented the plan and finally impunity to the mob
and its leaders that actually perpetrates the crimes, with each group
having an inescapably 'guilty-mind hold over the other. In Gujarat,
the members of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevaks (RSS), Vishwa Hindu
Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal (Hindu right wing youth group) that
formed the mob, its leaders, some of the local elected
representatives, some officers of local police stations, some of the
cabinet ministers and finally the chief minister, Mr. Narendra Modi
represents the chain that enjoys impunity.
The persecuted Muslim minority against whom the pogrom in 2002 was
targeted however finds it extremely difficult to bury the past and
move on. During the pogrom, they were often left with no identifiable
bodies to bury and now, the ever-present threats, intimidations and
humiliation makes even memories difficult to bury. The violence
continues-the withdrawal of statements by victims accompanied by
local legislative members of the state government and sympathizers of
the Hindu right agenda at the Court in the Best Bakery Case speaks
volumes of the extent of pressure put on the victims not to pursue
investigation and prosecution. At many places, withdrawal of
complaints and statements at the police stations is a condition upon
which the victims are allowed to return to their own, often destroyed
Life for Muslims in Gujarat is allowed but as promised by the leaders
of the Hindu right groups only upon the 'goodwill' of the majority
Hindus. Muslims face an economic boycott and are deprived of their
sources of livelihood. If they are grocers, their shops have either
been destroyed or people are discouraged to buy from them. If they
are plying cabs they are prevented from taking fares from regular
stands. Muslims masons and carpenters are not finding work. Licenses
for Muslim owners of meat shops are not being renewed. Those with 20
years of service in factories, shops and educational institutions
have been summarily discharged. Indeed, those who survived the pogrom
are alive but for how long under these conditions is the question.
Muslim community as a whole face severe persecution but there are
specific ways in which women are targeted for continued violence,
abuse and humiliation. The memories of rape, sexual abuse and
violence remain fresh in their minds as they watch perpetrators
roaming freely with impunity in the neighborhoods openly taunting and
threatening women with similar violence. Women's mobility is severely
restricted and those who did not don veil as their Muslim identity
are now taking to it for the sense of relative security and obscurity
it affords. Young girls are married off to unsuitable alliances for
fear of being sexually violated in future pogroms and education of
the girl child is severely affected. The police complicit in the
pogrom continue to intimidate Muslims in their regular 'combing'
operations picking up Muslim males and harassing women in their
absence. The language used by the law enforcers in such operations is
replete with sexual innuendos directed at Muslim women.
In the post 9/11 global politics, existing biases against Muslim
populations everywhere but particularly where they are in minority
has got legitimacy and sanction. Language demonizing Muslims is
'believable'. The Gujarat pogrom itself draws its strength from what
seems to be an international mood to go after 'Muslims' in the name
of 'war on terror. The slogans used in the elections in the state of
Gujarat in December 2002 harped on security issues security to people
from the 'terrorist Muslims'. The network of Hindu right groups in
India has always considered non-Hindu minorities as 'foreigners'.
After 9/11, they project Indian Muslims as terrorist, saboteurs,
spies working for the 'enemy Pakistan' and anti-social elements that
Indian society need to be purged of. This has helped the Hindu right
gain popular support and manufacture consent to their anti-Muslim
bias and genocidal intent.
Muslims in Gujarat have no expectations of justice with the BJP (the
political formation of the Hindu right network) government in power
in the state. The lack of confidence stems from the acquittals of
alleged perpetrators in most serious cases of violations, the
Commissioner of the Enquiry Commission exonerating Chief Minister
Narendra Modi of any involvement in the pogrom even before completing
the hearings and the general anti-Muslim biases and attitudes of
police, prosecutors and judges in the state. The Supreme Court of
India ordered a re-trial of the Best Bakery case which inspires
confidence that the judiciary of the highest order in the country
would step in and uphold the constitutional guarantees of right to
life, freedoms and protection of minorities. The problem with the
order however is the faith the Supreme Court shows in the Gujarat
state institutions ability and willingness to investigate and
prosecute crimes in which they are themselves so heavily implicated.
Twenty months into the pogrom, a number of public interest
litigations filed at the Supreme Court of India by concerned citizens
requesting that investigations of major cases of violations be moved
to the relatively neutral Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) are
yet to be heard. Nor did the Supreme Court add that in its recent
order that investigations for the re-trial of the Best Bakery case be
done by the CBI. Such show of confidence by the Supreme Court would
only result in sham trials with the most vulnerable of the alleged
accused made the 'fall guy.'
With lack of avenues of justice nationally, the question of
applicability of international law to the Gujarat situation arises.
The problem however with even beginning to think of the
practicalities of applying international law is India image in the
international community. India, to many, is still Gandhis India with
commitment to policies of non-alignment, democracy, non-violence and
respect for rule of law. That over the last decade or so, India has
been politically taken over by Hindu right network is not widely
known. There is also tremendous difficulty in the international
community to imagine contemporary India as fascist, nationalist and
genocidal. The Hindu right government in power has essentially used
the clout, respect and credibility gained as a result of India's
post-independence policies of non-alignment to successfully disguise
its fascist and nationalist agenda.
Those responsible for the Gujarat pogrom must be held accountable. If
national systems fail the victims and survivors, international
mechanisms must be invoked. For when crimes as serious as genocide is
in the making, no matter where, it ought to be the concern of
humanity as a whole. -ends-
Women Living Under Muslim Laws international solidarity network
Email: wluml at wluml.org Website: http://www.wluml.org
o o o o
[RELATED NEWS MATERIAL ON MODI's UK TRIP]
The Times of India , August 13, 2003
Modi's UK trip enthuses none
RASHMEE Z AHMED
Times News Network [Tuesday, August 12, 2003 10:53:14
LONDON: Whisper it softly, but Gujarat chief minister
Narendra Modi is soon to begin a potentially
high-value, high-profile European roadshow to sell his
state to overseas investors, even as the British
government officially cold-shoulders him and Indian
officials try and pretend he isn't coming at all.
Modi, whose UK visa was issued only on Friday, just a
week before his scheduled arrival, appears to have
become one of the most sensitive bilateral issues in a
The issue is so sensitive that till late on Tuesday,
Indian officials were refused to confirm Modi's very
arrival in London on the grounds that there was "no
official confirmation from Delhi".
And a British foreign office spokesman stressed,
"Modi's arrival is not at the invitation of Her
Majesty's Government nor does the government plan to
have any contact with him while he is here".
Just days before Modi is scheduled to address a huge
meeting at London'sWembley Arena, a venue often used
by pop stars, the Indian High Commission was unable to
specify its plans to felicitate him.
Meanwhile, a snowballing campaign is already battling
to lobby British prime minister Blair and foreign
secretary Straw to prevent Modi's Wembley
But to put that in context, Blair receives some 8,000
similar petitions a week and his aides confess they
haven't "found" the Modi letter just yet.
The letter to Blair, compares the case for a British
government "ban on Modi's UK visit" to that of the
controversial American Nation of Islam leader Louis
Farrakhan, who was unusually prevented in 2002 from
setting foot on British soil.
But British officials insisted "there were no
appropriate grounds to refuse Modi a visa", even as
they pointed out the UK's continuing concern "raised
to the Government of India at the highest level .over
reports that the government of Gujarat did not do as
much as it could to prevent and end the violence".
The letter to Blair is written by Leicester's Indian
Muslim Association, which apparently has close and
comradely links with the Swaminarayan sect. But
unusually, it appears to have the endorsement of a
British priest who worked in India and claims some
knowledge of Modi's words and deeds.
Another letter to Straw by the Council of Indian
Muslims is supposed to be supplemented by further
letters from several British MPs, who believe "the UK
should not allow Modi to raise more money here to fund
violence in Gujarat".
o o o
The Telegraph, August 13, 2003
New Delhi, Aug. 12: South Asian secular groups are planning to picket
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi when he visits Britain later
this week, reports our special correspondent.
The South Asian Solidarity Group, the Indian Council of Muslims and
other outfits are planning the protest against Modi for being the
alleged architect of the Gujarat carnage that occurred after the
Godhra train burning last February.
Modi will tour Britain to attract investment for Gujarat.
He may deliver a lecture, organised by the Overseas Friends of the
BJP, at the Wembley Conference Centre in London on August 17.
o o o
The Hindu, August 13, 2003
Opposition to Modi's visit to UK
London, Aug 12. (PTI): A UK-based Indian Muslim organisation has asked the
British Government not to grant visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra
Modi, for his proposed visit this month.
The Council of Indian Muslims, in a letter to British Foreign Secretary Jack
Straw, said Modi's visit poses a "great danger to race relations" and as
such he should not be granted visa.
Modi is scheduled to pay a four-day visit to the UK from August 16 to
attract NRI investment.
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