Protest in London Against British MP’s Invitation to Modi

British MP Barry Gardiner was confronted by over 100 vocal and angry protestors outside his MP’s surgery in Brent in North London on 9 September, demanding that he withdraw his invitation to Narendra Modi. A large number of South Asian organisations, including Sikh and Muslim groups; human rights campaigns; and trade union organisations including Brent Trades Council, demanded that Gardiner withdraws his open invitation to Narendra Modi the ‘Butcher of Gujarat’, and that he should never invite him again. Protestors dressed as Gardiner and Modi cavorted together with Modi brandishing MOUs and sheaves of dollars and were then drenched with fake blood by demonstrators. Slogans of ‘Barry Gardiner, Shame, Shame! Inviting Modi, Not in Our Name’ and ‘Barry, Barry don’t lie - Modi’s Guilty of Genocide’ resounded as protestors braved heavy rain to express the extent of opposition to the invitation.

South Asia Solidarity Group, who organized the protest explained that ‘in the face of so much opposition to the invitation to Modi, Barry Gardiner has now released a statement saying that Modi is unable to come in the next few weeks. But we are continuing our campaign demanding that the invitation is officially withdrawn and not repeated. Modi has already tried to make political capital in India from this invitation, and we need to send a clear message that he is not welcome here.’

Modi’s past visits to the UK have been used to raise extensive funds and support for communal violence by Hindutva organisations. The protestors highlighted that the invitation makes a mockery of human rights and ignores the murders of three British citizens Saeed and Shakeel Dawood and Mohammed Aswat who were among those killed in the 2002 genocide. The Dawood family are still seeking justice and have an ongoing case against Modi.

Davinder Prasad of Caste Watch UK (a group campaigning for legislation banning caste discrimination in Britain) which also supported the protest pointed out that ‘Modi’s supporters have shown their caste prejudice and tried to block our campaign for caste equality in the UK. Barry Gardiner invitation to Modi only encourages this discrimination, he should withdraw the invitation.’

Samarendra Das of Foil Vedanta said ‘Modi claims to have brought ‘development’ to Gujarat – but the reality is that nutritional poverty is higher than all-India levels and there is a huge and growing gap between rich and poor in the state. The only people benefitting are corporates like Adani and the notorious British company Vedanta Resources’.

Barry Gardiner and the Labour Friends of India

Barry Gardiner who chairs the ‘Labour Friends of India’(LFI) has invited Modi to come and speak at the House of Commons on the subject of ‘The Future of Modern India’. Other prominent members of the LFI are Vikas Pota and Manoj Ladwa, founders of the firm Saffron Chase, Modi’s key lobbyists in the UK. Pota and Ladwa are prominent members of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, the international wing of the RSS. Barry Gardiner, a long term associate of Modi, who personally delivered a cheque for £1m pounds collected by a pro-Hindutva charity in the UK to Modi in 2001, has acted without consulting the rest of the Labour Friends of India group, as Batley and Spen MP, Mike Wood, also a member of the group, has complained in a letter to Gardiner. Wood has tabled an Early Day Motion in the British parliament demanding that Modi is banned from the UK, which has been signed by six MPs to date.

Barry Gardiner was confronted about repeating Modi’s false claims that he has been absolved of all wrongdoing by the Supreme Court of India. He has repeated this claim in a letter handed out to demonstrators which also compares the genocide in Gujarat in 2002 to the London riots of 2011! The points in this letter had earlier been refuted in detail by the Council for Indian Muslims (UK) but there has been no response from Gardiner.

The protest was part of an ongoing campaign to counter the activities of Hindutva fascist forces in Britain which has gained further urgency in the context of Modi’s prime ministerial bid.

Liberation Archive