The news yesterday that British MPs want the controversial Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi to speak to the Commons is both alarming and will only cause further tensions between the Muslim community and the Hindu Nationalists. India's Chief Minister for Gujarat, Modi, has been invited by the Labour Friends of India and the Conservative Friends of India to the UK.
Modi, wrote on Twitter: "Thankful to British MPs for their invites in the spirit of dialogue and engagement." Indeed, the Labour MP from Brent North, Barry Gardiner argued, that people from the UK would be interested in meeting him and hearing what he had to say. Personally, I am not looking forward to it and it appears a number of people agree with me as an online e-petition against his entry to the UK has reached 3,834 signatories (at the time of writing). Clearly, the UK government is making what it thinks is a shrewd business decision, to help strengthen its relationship with India, but for many thousands of Muslims, both in the UK and India, Modi is a war criminal and someone who has blood on his hands.
In 2002, the Indian state of Gujarat was the scene of rioting, bloodshed, looting, rape and murder as thousands of Muslim men, women and children were killed. All of this as a result of a report that Muslims had set fire to a train carriage which killed 58 Hindu pilgrims. Any minister responsible for this area would have done their best at ending the violence and bloodshed. Moreover, they would have done their utmost to protect and serve the community you would hope, yet Modi who critics argue was complicit in the Gujarat massacre, remained silent.
Instead, Modi has shown little remorse over the incident and in an interview to the newswire, Reuters, he used the analogy of a puppy coming under a car as a means to justify his inept action over the incident. He argued that "... any person if we are driving a car, we are a driver, and someone else is driving a car and we're sitting behind, even then if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course, it is..."
Shailesh Vara, Conservative MP for Cambridgeshire North West, has also invited Mr Modi to speak to a group of MP's in Westminster has argued that: "I am aware that Mr Modi is controversial, but I am also aware that over the years there have been three inquiries, and that none of them have found anything against him." How convenient considering the rulings have been marred with allegations of corruption, abuse and malpractice.
Modi insists that because the Supreme Court effectively gave him the all clear with regards his role in Gujarat, he has nothing to fear. I am however much more skeptical about that ruling. For example, the Global Corruption Barometer 2013-which surveys people in 107 countries found just last month that corruption in India was double the global average. It also found that the highest amount of bribes were from the police (62%) followed by to those involved in the registry and permit (61%) and India's judiciary were found guilty of (36%) of bribes.
So whilst Modi's story might one day be part of a dramatic Bollywood script, allowing him entry to the UK, and giving him a voice to espouse his extreme views is absurd. If one looks at the facts in Gujarat, Modi has been responsible for creating a steady decline in the economy of Gujarat. He has been described by his critics as 'fake, hollow, and shallow' and is responsible for Gujarat's poor financial position. So when people look at his invitation please take a moment to think about the death of the thousands of innocent Muslim minorities and indeed Hindus killed in the Gujarat massacre.
The argument made by some politicians is that because Modi is a prospective Prime Minister of India then we should open our hands and make sure we are 'connected' with an emerging superpower. But how can that be acceptable? It is an incredulous decision, and we should all raise our voices against Modi being given a platform by our government to discuss our national and international affairs.
If Modi is given this platform perhaps the government next time would like to invite Syria's Bashar Al-Assad as both he and Modi seem to have a lot in common.