Thursday, 5 September 2013

Gardiner faces demonstration over Modi visit on Monday

There is to be a demonstration on Monday at 11.30am outside the Brent Civic Centre where Barry Gardiner MP for Brent North will be holding his surgery. The demonstration is against Gardiner's invitation, as Chair of Labour Friends of India, to Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujerat,  to address the House of Commons. The demonstration is supported by  South Asian Solidarity, Islamic Human Rights Committee, Brent Trades Council, Brent Labour Representation Committee and many individuals. 

The exchange of letters below sets out the different viewpoints:

Barry Gardiner to Council of Indian Muslims (UK)

Dear Sirs,

 Asalaam Aleyeekum

Thank you for your courtesy in sending to me a copy of your open letter in which you refer to the invitation I issued to Narendra Modi to speak on “The Future of Modern India” in front of an invited audience in the House of Commons. I did this in my capacity as Chairman of Labour Friends of India. I appreciate your giving me the opportunity to set out my reasons for doing so.

Narendra Modi is the Chief Minister of Gujarat, which as you know is where a large proportion of the Indian community in Britain come from originally. He has been re-elected three times since first becoming Chief Minister in 2001, most recently in 2012 with the overwhelming support of both the Hindu and the Muslim community in the State. Since 2001 he has stamped out corruption in the State administration and is widely recognised (even by his enemies) to be personally not corrupt and to live frugally. Many non-resident Indians who hold him in high regard have a keen interest in maintaining their family contacts in Gujarat and are therefore interested to hear his views.

He has presided over what is often referred to as an economic miracle in Gujarat, encouraging foreign direct investment and improving roads, electricity and infrastructure whilst increasing education and healthcare. In particular women’s education has increased and death in childbirth has dropped by a third. All of this, he has done in the aftermath of the devastating Gujarat earthquake which wrecked the city of Bhuj and much of the surrounding villages and towns leaving 600,000 people homeless. The growth rate in the state from 2001 to 2012 has been almost 12% -- the highest of any state in India and as a result of his governance Britain now has more foreign direct investment in Gujarat than in the rest of India put together. He has been voted as the most successful Chief Minister by India Today Magazine 6 years in a row and has recently been made the Leader of the official Opposition Party, the BJP. The BJP is a Hindu Nationalist Party and those are certainly his uncompromising views (he would like India to be a Hindu State just as Pakistan is a Muslim State). However he has always governed in line with the secular constitution of India as did the BJP when it was the party of government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee between 1998 and 2004.

 I am of course aware of the allegations that he was implicated in – some say that he organised – the appalling rioting that took place in Gujarat in 2002. The riots took place in the immediate aftermath of the murder of 64 Ram Sewaks (Hindu religious) who were locked in a train that was set alight by Muslim extremists who objected to the Ram Sewaks’ demands to build a Hindu temple at Ayodhya. Hindu mobs then went on the rampage in revenge for this atrocity, burning out Muslim shops and homes. The official figure of those killed at the time was 850 but subsequent reports say that up to 2,000 Muslims were murdered. You have quoted from a BBC report that referenced an analysis prepared from contemporaneous accounts including the Human Rights Watch Report compiled immediately afterwards which made it clear that police and other officials had stood by and not tried to protect the Muslim community. This led some to accuse the authorities of a planned massacre.

Other contemporaneous reports in newspapers show that the state government had imposed curfews, issued shoot-on-sight orders and called for the army to prevent the violence from worsening. Clearly there was a horrific failure in the implementation of those orders. In April 2009, the Supreme Court of India appointed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to inquire into the Gujarat government and Narendra Modi's role in the incidents of communal violence. The SIT reported to the court in December 2010 submitting that they did not find any incriminating evidence against Modi of willfully allowing communal violence in the state. In all the rioting lasted for three days before the police got things under control. (In this respect you may recall that the rioting two years ago here in London took four days for the police to bring under control and they too were accused of standing by and doing nothing.)

Given that the Indian Courts have fully investigated the allegations about official complicity in the riots and have in fact convicted some senior administrative and political figures, it is I think all the more significant that they found that Modi was not implicated in any way.  This has of course not stopped people using the allegations against him for political reasons; and they continue to do so. That is no reason for us to regard them as justified and proven when the Indian courts, under a Congress government, have found that there is not even a case for him to answer.

My assessment in inviting Modi to speak in the UK is that he is a hugely important figure in Indian politics. He is already Leader of the Opposition and depending on the outcome of next year’s elections he could become the Prime Minister of India. At the very least he will continue to be a dominant influence on India’s future direction one way or another. Britain has good relations with India and our trade and education links are strong and growing. It is therefore in my view entirely appropriate that British politicians and leaders of the Indian community in the UK should have an interest in what he has to say about the future direction of his country. 

 I trust that this clarifies the situation for you, and once again want to thank you for affording me the opportunity to address your concerns.

With Kindest Regards
Yours sincerely
Barry Gardiner MPMember of Parliament for Brent NorthChairman of Labour Friends of India

Council of Indian MKuslims (UK) response:

Dear Right Hon. Mr. Gardiner,
Thank you for promptly responding to our concerns about your invitation to Gujarat Chief Minister Mr. Narendra Modi.  Please forgive us for saying that we have been vindicated in our assessment that you have been misinformed.  Before we respond to the points raised in your letter, let us start by providing some background on the most serious charge against Mr. Modi, about his role in the Gujarat pogrom of 2002. 

The viciousness and barbarism that marked the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 including the burning alive of hundreds of people, and brutal sexual violence against women, make the Gujarat riots among the worst human rights violations in recent history. Over 2000 people were killed, countless others wounded, and over 150,000 displaced from their homes.

After their investigation of the violence, Human Rights Watch stated that the “attacks against Muslims (and other religious minorities) in Gujarat have been actively supported by state BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government officials and by the police.” [13]

The "Concerned Citizens Tribunal", established by journalists, retired judges and intellectuals in India to investigate the massacres in Gujarat, noted in its report:
The scrutiny of the evidence, which came before us, also reveals that there was systematic preparation for unleashing the violence all over the State. The attackers had with them the lists of persons and properties of the victims. The lists could not have been prepared without an access to government records and agencies like the state intelligence, the sales tax department, the revenue department and the state electoral rolls. The Muslim localities were identified beforehand, as also the property and business houses belonging to the Muslim community.
[Crime Against Humanity, Volume 1 - An Inquiry into the Carnage in Gujarat]

Babu Bajrangi, a convicted mass-killer of the Gujarat pogrom, acknowledged on camera during a media sting operation, that the pogrom would not have been possible without the support of Chief Minister Narendra Modi [14].  

There is much more evidence that we would be happy to provide, should you need us to corroborate our position against Mr. Modi. 

We would now like to respond to your letter point by point.

1. Modi, “has been re-elected three times since first becoming Chief Minister in 2001”
This is not unusual in Indian electoral politics which is often driven by sectarian loyalty rather than principle. Nor does it mean that he is governing well. The Left Front government ruled the state of West Bengal for 32 years until 2009. Naveen Patnaik (Orissa), Sheila Dikshit (Delhi) also were re-elected three times in a row. You must be aware of the fact that electoral arithmetic does not entirely depend on the persona of any individual, especially in a Westminster model of democracy. 

2. Muslims have voted for him in 2012
The Center for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), which collects electoral data collected using scientific survey methodology, reported that only 18% of Muslims voted for BJP. 

The same data reports that BJP did not field any Muslim candidate in the last Gujarat election. There were areas where Muslims had no option but to vote for the other candidate. This has nothing to do with Modi. Muslims were forced to express, under threat or intimidation by BJP/RSS, their support for him but there is nothing to suggest that they have voted for him as a community. [3]

3. Since 2001 he has stamped out corruption in the State administration”
This is false – an example of Mr. Modi’s expensive propaganda machine at work. If corruption has been stamped out, why then did the Modi administration resist the appointment of state Lok Ayukta (anti-corruption ombudsman) since 2003? When the State Governor appointed one, the Modi administration contested it up to the Supreme Court where it lost.

4. Modi, “is widely recognized (even by his enemies) to be personally not corrupt and to live frugally.”
Our objections to Mr. Modi's politics concern his fascist traits in politics and government, not his personal lifestyle, which incidentally is also not above board. 

5.  “Many non-resident Indians who hold him in high regard have a keen interest in maintaining their family contacts in Gujarat and are therefore interested to hear his views.”
This is no reason to justify implicit support for his views by providing him with a platform. Emigrants all over the world maintain contact with their families and relatives back home. There may be many in the UK who support other leaders with fascist views and would be very interested to hear them.

6. “He has presided over what is often referred to as an economic miracle in Gujarat, encouraging foreign direct investment and improving roads, electricity and infrastructure whilst increasing education and healthcare....”
Gujarat has not been a leading state in foreign direct investment (FDI). The Gujarat government claims that it signed nearly $1 trillion worth of memoranda of understanding (MoU), putting the state ahead of China! The real numbers tell a different story. Most of the MoUs never come to fruition. Gujarat's actual FDI is only sixth in the country and slightly ahead of (until recently communist ruled) West Bengal. Mr. Modi’s formidable PR armada led by APCO has created the fiction of Modi’s magic in Gujarat’s prosperity. Even if it were true, how much does a pound of human flesh cost?

7. Britain now has more foreign direct investment in Gujarat than in the rest of India put together.
This is a rather unfortunate admission in that it implies that economic interests are more important than human rights. Please note that the massacres he gave free rein to in 2002 also took the lives of three British citizens. These facts, if underlined, would anger the general British population as well. Under these circumstances, it would be highly regrettable for a British politician to be associated with and seen as endorsing Mr. Modi.

8. He has been voted as the most successful Chief Minister in India by Today Magazine 6 years in a row.
India Today is an English language magazine. English is spoken by 2-3% people in India (per the national census of 2001) - the poll therefore does not carry much weight as representing a significant proportion of Indian citizens.

9. He has recently been made the Leader of the Official Opposition Party
The Leader of the Official Opposition Party is in fact Mr. Rajnath Singh; Mr. Modi is simply in charge of the election campaign for 2014 elections.

10. The BJP is a Hindu Nationalist Party. And those are certainly his uncompromising views (he would like India to be a Hindu State just as Pakistan is a Muslim State.)
Thank you for pointing this out. The issue is that the Hindu Nationalist charter goes above and beyond India as a Hindu state a la Pakistan as a Muslim state. The VHP and RSS who are the ideological sources of the Hindu Nationalist movement were strongly influenced by Nazis in their formative years. University of Chicago Professor Martha Nussbaum calls the movement the most successful proto-fascist movement of modern times [1]. To quote Prof. Nussbaum:

“Since long before the 2002 Gujarat riots--in which nearly two thousand Muslims were killed by Hindu extremists--the power of the Hindu right has been growing, threatening India's hard-won constitutional practices of democracy, tolerance, and religious pluralism. Led politically by the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Hindu right has sought the subordination of other religious groups and has directed particular vitriol against Muslims, who are cast as devils in need of purging.”

The Hindu Nationalist movement not only threatens the Muslims in India, but Christians, Dalits, Sikhs, Buddhists, and other minorities as well. In the long run, they will threaten other regional powers (Because India, according to them, extends from Afghanistan to Burma and from Tibet to Sri Lanka.)

BJP is the political wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a fascist group whose leader M. S. Golwalkar in his book We; Our Nationhood Defined, laid down the aims and objectives of this group in these words, “...the foreign races [read non Hindus] in Hindusthan [India] must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture...must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation...We are an old nation; let us deal, as old nations ought to and do deal, with the foreign races...” Otherwise, “...To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races—the Jews. Germany has also shown how well impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by.”
India has a remarkably successful constitution.  Modi’s uncompromising views are constitutionally inappropriate and legally unjustifiable. 

11. I am of course aware of the allegations that he was implicated in – some say that he organised – the appalling rioting that took place in Gujarat in 2002…  train that was set alight by Muslim extremists who objected to the Ram Sewaks’ demands to build a Hindu temple at Ayodhya

The official probe conducted by Indian Railways concluded that there was no attack from outside, that the fire started inside the coach; the claim that the fire was started by the Muslims’ as a retaliation to the temple at Ayodhya is a fiction and perhaps uttered here for the first time.

Muslims do not oppose the construction of a Ram Temple. What they are against is the occupation of Waqf (Muslim trust) land, where once stood a historic mosque and that was pulled down by extremist Hindus under the full gaze of the media. 

12. “Hindu mobs...  planned massacre”
As has been pointed out, all evidence points to a planned and systematic ethnic cleansing that could not have been possible without the overt support of the state machinery. A former minister in Modi cabinet Maya Kodnani was convicted by the High Court in Gujarat for her role in the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 [12]. This alone is a damning indictment and proof that the pogrom was planned and executed with direction from the highest levels of the state administration.  

13. “Given that the Indian Courts... Modi was not implicated in any way”
The truth about Modi will be known only when he is out of office and unable to use government machinery to silence his critics– please see what he does to officers who expose his role like Sanjiv Bhat.

14. “This has of course not stopped people using the allegations against him for political reasons; and they continue to do so... That is no reason... there is not even a case for him to answer”

Even the Supreme court has made these allegations [2, 10]. Are you, sir, suggesting that the Indian Supreme court has political agenda?

Mr. Modi has refused to condemn the attack on Muslims; he has instead focused his efforts on denying relief and assistance to the victims [11]. He has polarized Gujarati and Indian society along religious lines, leading to social and commercial boycott of Muslims, walls separating Muslim and Hindu areas in cities and towns and “Muslim-free” villages. There are still tens of thousands of the displaced during 2002 living in shanty towns and temporary refugee camps too afraid to return to their homes and villages.

The amicus curiae appointed by the Supreme Court has asserted that Modi can be prosecuted [2]. There is enough evidence against him that the United States denies him entry [5,6]. It is difficult to file a case against a Chief Minister everywhere and especially in India. 

15. My assessment in inviting Modi to speak in the UK is that he is a hugely important figure in Indian politics. He is already Leader of the Opposition and depending on the outcome of next year’s elections he could become the Prime Minister of India. At the very least he will continue to be a dominant influence on India’s future direction one way or another. Britain has good relations with India and our trade and education links are strong and growing. It is therefore in my view entirely appropriate that British politicians and leaders of the Indian community in the UK should have an interest in what he has to say about the future direction of his country.

As we have pointed out before, Modi is not the leader of the Opposition. He is not as popular as you have been told [9]. Humanity has nothing to gain from a fascist leader, however alluring his promises may seem. 
We hope we have convinced you that the facts and arguments provided to you by Modi supporters are false and reprehensibly so. We would like to expand on why we oppose Mr. Modi and his propaganda of a Gujarat `miracle.’ 

He inherited a rich state which was richer than the rest of India even before independence - in comparison to other Indian states Gujarat has always been an economically better [4].

Even so, income disparity in Gujarat is one of the most extreme in India. Per data released by the planning commission of India, 31.8% are still below poverty line.  Note that poverty means those who do not earn Rs. 20 (GBP 0.20) per day! 

Responding to a question on malnutrition in Gujarat, Narendra Modi, on 29 August 2012, said: "The middle class is more beauty-conscious than health-conscious that is a challenge…If a mother tells her daughter to have milk, they'll have a fight-she'll tell her mother, 'I won't drink milk. I'll get fat."   
We would like to emphasize that Mr. Modi refused to condemn the 2002 riots, let alone apologize to the victims. He walked out of an interview with Karan Thapar when pressed on this. On the contrary he continues to evoke the 2002 case to create his image as a nationalist!

We have tried our best to answer you point by point. We specially request you to watch and read the links and references provided in our responses. If that is difficult, please ask an unbiased and credible source about the facts presented here. At stake are values that are common to both the United Kingdom and India and indeed to all civilized nations [7, 8].

Regards,
Munaf Zeena

Notes and References
[1] “The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future” Martha Nussbaum Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (2009)
[2] “Gujarat riots: Amicus curiae says Modi can be prosecuted” http://www.indianexpress.com/news/gujarat...amicus-curiae...modi.../946400/
[3] “Muslims solidly against Modi: Katju
[4] Growth Rate: As per the Planning Commission data, this is true that in the period of 1995-2000 and 2001-10, Gujarat increased its annual rate of growth from 8.01% to 8.68%. 
But look at other states Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. In fact, Gujarat was ranked second after Rajasthan (8.34%) in the first period and third after Uttarakhand (11.81%) and Haryana (8.95%) in the second period. Even Bihar and Orissa, the two most backward states of the country, have also shown growth pick up from 4.70% and 4.42% in the first period to 8.02% and 8.13% in the second period. Even smaller states like Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh have registered growth of 11.01% and 8.96%, respectively. In 2011, Gujarat ranked sixth among major states with PCI of Rs 63,996, after Haryana (Rs 92,327), Maharashtra (Rs 83,471), Punjab (Rs 67,473), Tamil Nadu (Rs 72,993) and Uttarakhand (Rs 68,292).
25 US lawmakers have urged US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to continue with America's move. 
http://in.news.yahoo.com/keep-denying-visa-to-modi--us-lawmakers-052424447.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/10250928/US-official-warns-against-giving-Indias-Narendra-Modi-a-visa.html
“India will not be able to survive because it has so much diversity, so many religions, castes, languages, ethnic groups, etc.
http://daily.bhaskar.com/article/GUJ-AHD-india-would-not-survive-if-modi-becomes-pm-markandey-katju-4191218-NOR.html
Martha C Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago.
"Modi has long been denied a visa to enter the US because of his complicity in the 2002 pogrom, as ascertained by the US State Department. But now, the Naroda Patiya verdicts make official the fact that responsibility for heinous crimes goes very high up in his government," she notes.
http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-12-24/news/35991670_1_gujarat-chief-minister-gujarat-riots-naroda-patiya
"We do not agree with the content of your seminar and invitation of Narendra Modi as a chief guest," he said. "As a magazine and as a publishing house in India with more than 12 years of standing, we stand by the principles of good taste, decency, progressive values, democratic principles and above all, the Constitution of India. As editor of PrintWeek India, I don't think Narendra Modi stands by these values; and hence the withdrawal of support," Ramnathan said.
http://www.indianexpress.com/news/printers-protest-narendra-modi-as-chief-guest-pullout-from-conference/1079417/
Passing strictures against the state government, the court said, "Gujarat Government's inadequate response and inaction (to contain the riots) resulted in an anarchic situation which continued unabated for days on".
In a major blow to the Narendra Modi government, the Gujarat High Court today censured it for "inaction and negligence" during the 2002 post-Godhra riots, holding that this had resulted in an "anarchic" situation.
[12] Naroda Patiya case: Former BJP minister Maya Kodnani convicted along with 31 others http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-08-30/news/33499655_1_naroda-patiya-gujarat-riots-kodnani
[13]"We have no orders to save you" - Report by Human Rights Watch
[14] The Truth – Gujarat 2002: Babu Bajrangi

2 comments:

Trevor said...

I want to say that I have no faith whatsoever in Mr Gardiner and it's not without reason.
It is based on a conversation I had with him several months ago after I decided to cancel going to meet him at one of his surgeries in kings-bury.
I was planning to tell him about my very strong feelings regarding smoking and Why I believe that it should be banned and I was also planning to talk to him about my other very strong feelings regarding social housing and litter collection etc.
anyway He phoned me up and I told Him I had decided not to keep my appointment but I want to briefly express my feelings about the above.
Well I was very saddened when he attempted to convince me that the government consider the allowing of smoking as a sign of respect for public freedom to choose whether they wish to smoke or not?
I struggled to control my emotions when he said that because I obviously did not agree with him and I instead view it as a sign of the gross misuse of authority based on a desire for money and nothing but that and of course he did not agree with me as I expected.
it's like the governments of old that rubber stamped the slave Trade because of the desire for money...the slaves were used as a means of money making and like the smoking trap it was allowed to continue for years and years and many people suffered and died but many became very wealthy at the expense of exploiting people
and they were allowed to do this with the permission of the governments.
Likewise the people behind the Cigarette business have become extremely wealthy at the expense of exploiting the public and like with the slave trade they have been allowed to do what they do with the permission of the governments.
and what do you Know?
like the slave Trade, endless people have suffered and died but the government(s) dont care.
because as always they put profit before Principle and operate with double standards.
Telling people to not sell heroin or cocaine but Permitting people to use tobacco as a means of exploiting the public for profit.
oh how I long for the day justice is finally done on earth and I hope I will live to see it done.
until Then I continue to believe that people would be safer in the hands of polar bears than left in the hands of Politicians.
History has shown that they have a Tendency to be extremely corrupt wicked and deluded in that they refer to each other in inappropriate Terms such as Right Honorable and yet do they live up to such terms?
are they truly worthy of being addressed as Honorable?
The Beggar on the street that has kept his/her integrity and does not cause his neighbor to stumble and then rake in billions in tax revenue or blood money
is more honorable than a Thousands MP'S.

Trevor said...

When you Have People Like Mr Gardiner in government People will inevitably suffer.
because if he believes that people have the right to abuse themselves
with tobacco
then no way is he fit to be in government with views like that.
The human body was not designed to be abused and people are not here to be exploited by companies wishing to rake in billions in profit at the expense of the public doing unnatural extremely damaging things to themselves.
the public deserve so much better and yet they go hungry all the time regarding good government(s)
The Current government Love patronizing the unemployed for example, referring to them as scourgers and cheats
and yet can the government hold up it's hand and say it is blameless?
I would rather be a so called Scrounger Than be part of a government that rakes in billions in so called tax revenue which is in reality blood money because all that money has been raked from the 100,000 people that die each year from Lung and Throat cancer Which is caused from smoking which is a habit that has been permitted by the government.
That is so shameful and disgraceful and a Gross misuse of authority and one of the worse kinds of exploitation on this planet.
This is Why I have no faith at all in the government.
because they are nothing but crooks...who misuse their authority day after day.
This is why this country is in such a mess.
it is inevitable when you have a country that is in the hands of Wicked hypocrites.
bees do a better job of looking after themselves than all these politicians Do put together.