LONDON: Any unpublished report by Britain into the Gujarat riots should be made public, Labour MP Kim Leadbeater said on Wednesday when the House of Commons held a debate to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 2002 communal violence in the Indian state.
The debate in Westminster Hall was called by Leadbeater whose sister Jo Cox was murdered in 2016.
“The precise details of the toll remains a matter of dispute even as we approach the 20th anniversary. There is no agreement on the facts of what happened, never mind who was or was not complicit. At least 1,000 people lost their lives and the majority were Muslim,” Leadbeater said at the debate.
She said British Muslim constituents of hers, who had lost family members in the riots, felt they had not received justice and the remains of their loved ones had still not been returned to the UK. They wanted a British coroner to conduct an inquest and for any unpublished report into the riots by the UK to be made public, she said.
Amanda Milling, the minister of state for Asia, said there was no unpublished report carried out by the UK into the riots at the time and the Vajpayee government condemned the violence.
“The UK will condemn any religious discrimination around the world regardless of country or faith involved. The UK looks to India to uphold all freedoms and rights guaranteed in its constitution,” she said, representing the British government.
Conservative MP Theresa Villiers pointed out that there have been extensive investigations into the rioting and a number of people were convicted and given long prison sentences.
The Indian High Commissin in London issued a statement saying it has taken note of the discussion. Here is the full text of the statement:
High Commission of India, London, has taken note of a discussion held in one of the Halls of Westminster and its subject – related to a tragic sequence of events that took place in India twenty years ago, involving loss of lives of members of the many communities living side by side in Gujarat for generations.
High Commission of India would like to state that it has not so far, been approached by the H’ble MP who sponsored the motion or any other Participants in today’s discussion to engage on the subject – including on the specific request of the families of three British victims.
As has been abundantly acknowledged by speakers in today’s discussion, since 2002, due process of law has been followed, closely supervised by the Supreme Court of India.
It is well known that 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 Special Investigation Team constituted by the Supreme Court of India has been placed in the public domain in its entirety.
India is not only the world’s largest functioning democracy, it also uniquely exemplifies unity in diversity. 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 including our legislature and judiciary.
Watch Make any unpublished UK report on Gujarat riots public: British MP


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