Johnson urged to press Modi on unreturned remains of UK Muslims killed in Gujarat
By Ahmed J Versi and Hamed Chapman
London, (The Muslim News): Boris Johnson is being urged to take up the case of the unreturned remains of three British Muslims murdered during the Gujarat riots in February 2002 when he meets Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in India this week.
Imran Dawood was the only survivor from a group of four British Muslim tourists caught up in the rioting as they were coming back from a visit to the Taj Mahal 20 years ago and his family has been seeking closure since by having their remains buried in their home town of Batley, West Yorkshire.
In a letter to Johnson, his constituency MP, Kim Leadbeater, said that as a matter of urgency it would be “an opportune, albeit long overdue moment, to right this long-standing injustice” by raising the case with Modi during his visit to Gujarat and New Delhi.
“Dawood was the only one in the party to survive after they were set upon by a crowd demanding to know their religion”, she explained to the British Prime Minister in the murders of some 2,000 Muslims by Hindu mobs, including his uncles Shakeel and Saeed and childhood friend Mohammed Aswat, while Modi was Gujarat’s Chief Minister at the time.
At Tuesday journalists lobby meeting, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman was asked about the issue and whether Johnson would be taking up the case with his Indian counterpart. The Spokesman was non committal in his response.
“I cannot get ahead of what the PM will speak about on this. We understand the strength of feeling but will have further updates when the visit takes places,” the Spokesman said.
He did confirm that Tuesday’s cabinet concluded with a discussion of Johnson’s upcoming trip to India, his first as Prime Minister and pointed out that the UK “had a deep and long-lasting partnership with India and would seek to further expand that during his visit.”
But rather than tackle Modi on his failure to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and India continuing to buy oil and arms from Russia, the Spokesman simply said “the UK would continue to work with other countries to provide alternative options for defence procurement and energy for India to diversify supply chains away from Russia.”
“The UK would not seek to lecture other democratically elected governments on what course of action was best for them. Rather we would look to offer new opportunities which benefited both the people of UK and India,” he insisted.
Johnson leaves for India on Thursday, visiting Gujarat and New Delhi aimed to what was billed as “advance partnership for peace and prosperity” as part of the UK’s post-Brexit Indo-Pacific tilt
“As we face threats to our peace and prosperity from autocratic states, it is vital that democracies and friends stick together. India, as a major economic power and the world’s largest democracy, is a highly valued strategic partner for the UK in these uncertain times,” Johnson said.
Labour’s Shadow International Trade Secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, described PM’s visit as a “vanity trip official response to India trip to distract from the Prime Minister’s law-breaking and failure to tackle the cost of living crisis.”
[Photo: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference, in Glasgow, Scotland, November 1, 2021. (Credit: K.Tang/Birleşik Krallık Hük./Pool/Anadolu Agency)]
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