British MP, Activists in London Protest Attacks on Indian Muslims, Dissenters

The protestors criticised the British government for not including a human rights' stipulation in trade agreements with India.

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New Delhi: Led by Indian diaspora groups, a British MP, activists and others held a protest demonstration outside 10 Downing Street in London – the official residence of the UK prime minister – followed by a march to the Indian High Commission in the city on Sunday, July 3, to condemn attacks against minorities in India and muzzling of dissenting voices by the Narendra Modi government.

Towards this effect, they said the UK must strengthen its stand to stop India from committing a “genocide” of Muslims. They also demanded the release of human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, journalist and fact-checker Mohammed Zubair, and all political prisoners in India.

Addressing a massive rally outside 10 Downing Street, Independent MP Claudia Webbe said, “Given Britain’s imperial past of divide-and-rule and continuing exploitation in India, the UK government has a historical and moral responsibility for what is happening to the religious minorities in India today. Britain’s trade agreements need to be called out. They are lacking any human rights stipulations. We have a duty to oppose this.”

Protests against Narendra Modi government in London on Sunday, July 3. Photo: Facebook/Yasir Rizvi.

Sonali Bhattacharyya, National Secretary of Momentum, a socialist group within the Labour Party, called out the “cosy relationship” of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is said to be resigning soon, with Prime Minister Modi. She said both of them shared “many political aims”.

“The stripping of peoples’ citizenship based on their religious and ethnic background being the obvious one,” she added.

Bhattacharyya slammed the “shared interest” of Johnson and Modi in Gautam Adani’s conglomerate.

“Adani offered public support to Modi in 2003 in the face of the condemnation he faced for his role in the massacres in Gujarat. This gamble has paid off handsomely for Adani. Modi’s government has relaxed competition rules around major infrastructural projects benefitting Adani and helping him become one of the richest men in India.

Adani is now seeking inroads into Britain’s aerospace and defence, wooing Johnson’s government for contracts as the conglomerate expands its portfolio from agriculture and commodities into defence. To smooth these new ventures he is now scrambling for platforms to greenwash his business,” she added.

A press statement issued by protesters said, “The ethnic cleansing of Indian Muslims through the enactment of laws comparable to the Nazi Nuremberg laws such as the exclusionary and Islamophobic Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens which strips undocumented Indian Muslims of their citizenship and incarcerates them in detention centres.”

The protest sought to highlight various issues of India, such as “state-sponsored attacks” on Muslims, “criminalisation of human rights activists”,  “persecution of Christians, Sikhs, Dalits and Adivasis”, “weaponisation” of several laws such as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, and lynchings by vigilante groups.

The protest was jointly organised by more than 20 Indian diaspora groups, including Strive UK, South Asia Solidarity Group, Scottish Indians for Justice, Indian Muslim Federation, International Council of Indian Muslims, International Solidarity for Academic Freedom (InSAF), SOAS India Society, East Midlands Malayali Muslim Association, Apna Haq, Women Against Caste, South Asian Alternative Forum, Oxford, The London Story, The Peace Institute, Million Women Rise, Oxford South Asian Society, IMWS Al-Hikmah Centre, and Freedom Without Fear Platform.