This letter was written in a personal capacity by Dhruv Haria and shared with readers as his views.
Dear Barry Gardiner,
As your constituent I am writing to express my concerns about the violence that erupted between Hindu and Muslim communities in Leicester and Birmingham a few weeks ago and how it will affect communities of South Asian origin in Brent.
Your response to the reports on social media on September 24th about potential demonstrations outside Hindu temples was frankly irresponsible. There was no investigation on your part to determine whether there was in fact a real threat. An investigation by the authorities would have likely revealed that the post about protests outside Shree Sanatan Hindu Mandir was shared by an instagram account called “apnamuslims”. The name “apnamuslims” is incorrect usage of language and grammar in Urdu and calls into question its validity.
By commenting before an investigation you, therefore, helped to cause hysteria around communal violence within South Asian communities; bolstering false claims being made by Hindutva propagandists about violence being directed at Hindus by Muslims.
In Leicester, the police sent out messages to correct the record that claims of attacks on temples and Hindu women were false. This was not replicated in Brent by yourself or the police. These actions or inactions strengthened islamophobia amongst non-Muslims in our communities - leaving many Muslims to feel threatened and fearful of reprisal attacks by Hindutva mobs as witnessed in Leicester.
In view of this, I’m calling on you to commit to ending your relationship with the BJP-RSS nexus and the Indian state. In doing so you should publicly acknowledge how your actions have not only aided in fostering divisions within our communities but have also empowered a fascist movement with global reach.
Here I will list your actions and support given to Hindutva organisations and figures to jog your memory:
In 2001 you visited Gujarat & presented Narendra Modi, then Chief Minister of Gujarat, with a cheque for £1m collected in the UK by Sewa International for earthquake relief. It was later revealed that some of this money found its way to the killers in the Gujarat 2002 genocide. Over 2000 people were killed in what can only be described as carefully orchestrated attacks on Muslims by Hindutva mobs. In fact Babu Bajrangi, convicted of mass murder in the Gujarat genocide on 2002, acknowledged on camera during a media sting operation that the pogrom would not have been possible without the support of Narendra Modi.
In 2008, you published on your own website, a testimonial by Narendra Modi that read “Gujarat has no greater friend in Britain than Barry Gardiner”.
In 2009, at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, you proclaimed: “Gujarat can lead the world”.
In 2013, you invited Narendra Modi to the UK, but were forced to back down after protests in the UK.
In 2016, you attended an event marking 50 years of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS UK). RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat was also in attendance and addressed the event.
In 2019, when the BJP government with Modi at its helm, won a second term after a first term which witnessed lynchings & rapes of Muslims, Christians & Dalits on an unprecedented scale, you congratulated Modi about India's 'diversity'.
In January 2020 you, alongside Conservative MP Bob Blackman, were awarded the Padma Shri. India's 4th highest civilian award.
As my MP, I hope you will commit to ending your relationship with the BJP-RSS nexus in order to fulfill your commitments as an MP to all your constituents of South Asian origin regardless of caste, class, religion or gender.