Labour Leader Corbyn to Challenge Indian PM on Human Rights

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP photo.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP photo.

LONDON — Indian PM Narendra Modi faces questions over his human rights record when arrives in Britain today for a controversial three-day state visit.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will challenge him on the issue when they have a private meeting on Saturday.

Mr Modi stands accused of muzzling free speech, locking up opponents and threatening campaign groups such as Greenpeace.

He has also been blamed for the massacre of more than 1,000 Muslims in 2002when he was governor of Gujarat province – leading Britain to cut off diplomatic relations with him.

But the Government is now rolling out the red carpet for the leader of the world’s largest democracy.

In addition to meetings with the Queen and David Cameron , Mr Modi will address both Houses of Parliament.

The visit culminates with a rally of 60,000 people at Wembley Stadium on Friday night.

More than 40 MPs, including Mr Corbyn, John McDonnell and Alex Salmond, have signed a Commons motion calling on Cameron to raise human rights with Modi when they meet.

“Given the UK’s so-called special relationship with India as declared by the Prime Minister, these concerns should be raised with the Indian government; and urges the Government to investigate the reports and raise concerns with the Indian government,” it says.

The motion also calls for the release of “multiple political prisoners” held by the Indian state and points out that Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai was banned from coming to Britain by Modi to address British MPs.

Greenpeace says nine British nationals remain on a blacklist of people banned from travelling to India.

Modi was elected in 2014 as leader of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who have close links to the Hindu nationalist movement.

The son of a tea seller, he won the first overall majority in India’s lower house of parliament for any party since 1984 and is seen as a moderniser both of Indian infrastructure and government.

He’s also a former member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a far-right group who aim to turn India into a Hindu super-state.

The group appears to have close ties to his administration.

There are claims of meetings between education ministers and RSS leaders, and school textbooks are reportedly being rewritten in the state of Gujurat by members of the group.

One textbook for schoolchildren claims that television, the motor car and stem-cell research were all invented thousands of years ago by Hindu royalty.

A report by human rights campaigners Amnesty International this year found “corruption, caste-based discrimination and caste violence remained pervasive”.

The authorities continued to violate people’s rights to privacy and freedom of expression,” it added.

In a statement ahead of his visit, Mr Modi said he wanted to “strengthen co-operation” between India and the UK.

“India and UK are two vibrant democracies, which are proud of their diversity and multicultural societies.

“UK is home to a 1.5 million-people strong Indian diaspora, who have contributed greatly to society in different walks of life.

“Lots of professionals and students are also working and studying in Britain. We want to deepen the bond between our diaspora and the people of India,” he said.

Courtesy Daily Mirror

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