Protesters to lobby Brent MP over ‘Butcher of Gujarat’ invite row

Barry Gardiner is the Labour MP for Brent North

Barry Gardiner is the Labour MP for Brent North - Credit: Archant

A protest against a Brent MP’s invitation to a controversi politician from India will be staged in Wembley on Monday.

Narendra Modi is the Chief Minister of Gujarat (Pic credit: PA via Shailesh Raval/India Today Group)

Narendra Modi is the Chief Minister of Gujarat (Pic credit: PA via Shailesh Raval/India Today Group) - Credit: Press Association Images

Organisers South Asia Solidarity Group is calling for Brent North MP Barry Gardiner, who chairs the Labour Friends of India, to withdraw his invitation to Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat.Mr Gardiner has asked the figure, who is a contender for India’s next prime minister, to speak in the House of Commons on ‘The Future of Modern India.’

Mr Modi has been dubbed the ‘Butcher of Gujurat’ by critics who accuse him of being responsible for the horrific attacks on Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 when more than 2000 people were killed.

However an investigation has cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Mr Modi has declined the invitation, but a spokesman for South Asia Solidarity Group said: “We are continuing our campaign demanding that the invitation is officially withdrawn and not repeated.

“Modi has already tried to make political capital in India from this invitation, and we need to send a clear message that he is not welcome here.”

Sujata Aurora of Willlesden Green, who will be protesting, said: “We need to demonstrate to Barry Gardiner that his decision to issue this invitation is extremely unpopular.

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“We hope we will persuade him to think again.”

Ms Aurora has asked her MP, Glenda Jackson, to sign an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons calling for Modi to be banned.

Pete Firmin, chair of Brent Trades Council, said: “It is a terrible idea to invite Modi, given his involvement in the massacres in Gujarat.

“Barry Gardiner should withdraw the invitation right away.”

Mr Gardiner told the Times: “It seems rather strange somebody is protesting against an invitation that has already been declined.

“What does surprise me it that out of all the organisations, (protesting) not one of them has written to me and asked me why I issued the invitation.

On why the invitation was issued, Mr Gardiner said Mr Modi is “someone of huge importance to the future relationship between India and the UK.”

“We do more direct investment with the state of Gujarat than in the whole of the rest of India,” he said.

“We should be listening to what he has to say about the future direction of India.

“India is a global emerging superpower of this century and fundamental to our interests.

“If it was right to issue the invitation in the first place, it would be wrong to withdraw it.

“Nothing can be added by that, it’s silly.”

Mr Gardiner said he will not press Mr Modi to come to the UK.

“It’s the end of the matter,” he added.

Mr Gardiner said the accusations against Mr Modi were exhaustively investigated by the special investigating tribunal of the supreme court of India in a process initiated under a congress party.

Mr Gardiner said: “A report said there was absolutely no case for him to answer.

“There was no evidence at all that in anyway he allowed the terrible riots that took place.”

The protest will be at Brent Civic Centre in Engineers Way, Wembley from 11.30am to 1pm when Mr Gardiner holds his surgery.

A theatrical stunt about the relationship between Mr Gardiner and Mr Modi will be performed between 12.15 and 1.15pm.