LONDON: Taking “note of a discussion” in a House of Commons debating chamber on Wednesday on the 2002 Gujarat riots, the Indian high commission in London has said that Indians can address their own problems within India’s own institutions.
Vishwesh Negi, minister (press) at the Indian mission, said: “Our internal laws and foreign policy are guided by the principles enshrined in the Constitution of India and this enables our people to address their problems democratically and within our own democratic institutions.”
The parliamentary debate at Westminster Hall was sponsored by Labour MP Kim Leadbeater to mark the 20th anniversary of the 2002 Gujarat riots.
The 45-year-old won the seat of Batley and Spen in July 2021 in a by-election using a controversial flyer depicting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UK PM Boris Johnson in a negative light. Her constituency has a significant number of people of Pakistani and Gujarati Muslim ethnicity.
Only a few MPs turned up to the 20-minute debate and six spoke. The families of three British Muslim men killed in the 2002 riots sat in the public gallery. Westminster Hall debates give MPs an opportunity to raise an issue and receive a response from a government minister.
Negi said the HCI had not been approached by any of the participants to engage on the topic, including on the specific request of the families of three British victims. “Under successive Indian governments, there has been continuous parliamentary oversight and judicial supervision of the investigations into the incidents and free debate and discussions have taken place in the Parliament of India. As in a mature democracy, the report of the SIT constituted by the Supreme Court of India has been placed in the public domain in its entirety,” he said.
But Leadbeater told MPs that the families present — her constituents — felt “justice is yet to be done for what happened”. She explained how on February 28, 2002 Sakil and Saeed Dawood, their childhood friend Mohammed Aswat, and their driver, were murdered by a mob in Gujarat. Their nephew Imran was left for dead but survived; he was seated in the gallery.
“I ask the minister to investigate with the Indian authorities whether the repatriation of the remains is possible,” she said. She also called on the UK to hold an inquest into their deaths and for any “unpublished report” carried out by the UK at the time to be made public.
Amanda Milling, minister for Asia, responding on behalf of the UK government, said she was not aware of any such report and that the family has made an application to a court in India for the remains to be returned. “We stand ready to support that application,” she said.
On Twitter some reacted with anger that the topic was being debated. One said: “Let’s investigate Jallianwala Bagh.” Another proposed India publish a report on the Bengal famine. Another said it was time to tell Britain the days of the Raj are over. Another said: “Why doesn’t the Labour Party run for election in India and then discuss Indian issues inside the Indian Parliament?”


Source link