Two of Yusuf Dawood’s brothers, on holiday in India twelve years ago, were brutally killed during horrific communal violence against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002. Over 1,500 died (including three British nationals), hundreds of women were raped and 200,000 people driven from their homes.
He was among the speakers at a packed meeting hosted by John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington, and supported by Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North, at the UK’s Houses of Parliament on Wednesday 26 February 2014, focusing on the role of Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat and prime ministerial candidate for the far-right Bharatiya Janata Party in India’s forthcoming elections.
Messages of support were received from many individuals and organisations including Sir Anish Kapoor, CBE, an Indian sculptor who is one of the world’s most eminent artists, and Baroness Helena Kennedy, QC, a distinguished British barrister and human rights campaigner and Mike Wood, MP for Balley. Sir Anish Kapoor wrote, “I am deeply grateful that you are doing this. We are in a moment of great danger and your call to our sense of justice is much needed”.
At the meeting Suresh Grover of The Monitoring Group outlined key events during the ‘orgy of violence’ in 2002 and ‘Narendra Modi exposed: challenging the myths surrounding the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate’, an extensively researched report, was launched, Professor Chetan Bhatt, Director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at the London School of Economics, spoke of Modi’s links with the ‘Hindutva’ movement, which uses the guise of religion for its extremist brand of politics, and its ‘deliberate attempt to suppress freedom of speech’ in this country. Virendra Sharma (MP for Ealing Southall) had originally agreed to host the meeting but withdrew after coming under pressure from supporters of Modi, who tried in vain to force the event to be cancelled. A few then turned up, some of whom tried to disrupt the meeting, but did not succeed in silencing discussion.
Pragna Patel, of Southall Black Sisters, spoke on this movement’s disturbing attitude to and treatment of women, including sexual violence ‘unprecedented in nature’ in 2002. Professor Gautam Appa, emeritus professor at the London School of Economics, exposed the inaccuracy of claims often made by BJP supporters that the Supreme Court has cleared Modi of responsibility and that Gujarat is a model of good governance and prosperity.
‘There is international consensus that Narendra Modi was responsible for the 2002 genocidal attacks in Gujarat,’ wrote Anish Kapoor. ‘India’ s long history of cultural and ethnic tolerance is gravely in peril with the rise of this politician whose association with the fascist right cannot any longer be hidden. It is deplorable therefore that Britain continues to dialogue with this man and that British parliamentarians and businessmen shamelessly extend a hand of friendship to him and his political associates.’ Helena Kennedy warned that ‘Sectarianism is a scourge in our modern world and any politician or political party inciting, encouraging or creating a supportive landscape for such hostilities should be roundly condemned. Modi is a serious danger to peace in India and beyond. I strongly support the campaign to expose the threat he and his supporters present.’
An Early Day Motion to the House of Commons was announced, and a delegation of MPs to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office asking that there should be no engagement with him until he has been held legally accountable for his role in the violence. The meeting also heard that action is underway for an international tribunal on genocide in Gujarat.
Imran Dawood, who was with his uncles when they were killed but survived despite his own injuries, was also present at the meeting. They are deeply missed, Yusuf Dawood explained: ‘Sometimes you sleep, you dream, and they’re there, and then you wake up. ’The family are pursuing a civil case against Modi. We have no hatred in our hearts of anybody. We are Gujaratis and love Gujarat and its culture” he said. However he pointed out that “you can’t just brush things under the carpet if you’re going to progress.”
Mike Wood, MP for Batley where they lived, was one of those who sent a message of support. He said, “I extend my whole-hearted support for prosecuting Mr Modi not least for the communal violence in the state of Gujarat in 2002 which claimed so many innocent lives including that of my constituents and their driver. He should remain banned from this country irrespective of the results of the upcoming Indian elections until he has been brought to account for his actions in fermenting racial and religious violence and bigotry”.
The Awaaz Network and Monitoring Group, who organised the meeting, can be contacted by calling Suresh Grover on 07816301706 or [email protected].
For further information or to obtain the report, please contact:
Email [email protected] or ring 020 74302869
To download click here Narendra Modi Exposed Report
Photo credit: Radha