Special Reports

“Narendra Modi threat to human rights”

London: It is important to speak up for pluralism and respect for all, which are values threatened by the rise of Narendra Modi, urged world-famous sculptor Anish Kapoor at a packed meeting in UK's Parliament on 1 May. Speakers included distinguished lawyers Helena Kennedy and Vrinda Grover, ranked last year by Time magazine as one of 100 most influential figures in the world, and Gautam Appa, emeritus professor at the London School of Economics.

“Not In Our Name: Resisting Hindutva, Defending Justice and Human Rights” was the theme of the meeting, organised by the Avaaz Network. It was chaired by Mike Wood, MP for Batley and Spen in West Yorkshire. Three of his constituents (British citizens on holiday in Gujarat) were among the estimated 1,500-3,000 Muslims murdered in Gujarat in 2002. Baroness Kennedy, chair of Justice, the UK section of the International Commission of Jurists, urged that Modi be held to account for his role in the violence. If he were to come to power despite his record, this would involve the downgrading of terrible crimes and give an international boost to harmful sectarianism.

Sir Anish Kapoor, who now lives in Britain, said after he wrote a letter critical of Modi which was co-signed by artists, writers and others, they faced a 'barrage of intimidating correspondence'. He spoke powerfully of the contrast between the chief minister's narrow and divisive vision for India and that of Mahatma Gandhi. 'The Modi camp fears criticism' because 'there is much to hide'. We all have a voice and have to 'find a way to talk of what we believe in', he urged.

It would be a 'disaster for India' if Modi were to be elected, warned Professor Gautam Appa, originally from Ahmedabad in Gujarat, who co-edited and contributed to the recently-published 'Narendra Modi Exposed: Challenging the Myths Surrounding the BJP's Prime Ministerial Candidate'.

Vrinda Grover exposed grave failures in governance in Gujarat, where the criminal justice system has been 'systematically subverted' and those who question injustice are crudely threatened. A lawyer, researcher and activist based in New Delhi, she spoke of the use of extrajudicial killings as 'part of the political project' there, and the obstruction faced by a mother whose daughter had been killed, before the chilling truth was revealed by some of the police involved. Modi's rise poses a 'challenge to democracy' in India.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 May 2014 on page no. 13

We hope you liked this report/article. The Milli Gazette is a free and independent readers-supported media organisation. To support it, please contribute generously. Click here or email us at sales@milligazette.com

blog comments powered by Disqus