Will David Cameron talk about human rights with Indian PM Narendra Modi?

Bethan McKernan@mck_beth
Thursday 12 November 2015 15:00
news

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has arrived in the UK for a three-day visit.

Much like Chinese president Xi Jinping's official trip to London and Manchester last month, trade relations are high on the agenda, and critics have highlighted that David Cameron doesn't seem interested in raising any inconvenient truths about Modi's record on dealing with human rights abuses.

The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) leader was actually banned from entering the UK between 2002-2012 over still-unresolved allegations he incited racial tensions while minister of Gujarat. Anti-Muslim riots in the region under his tenure left more than 1,000 dead.

More recently, Modi has come under fire for downplaying a lynch mob attack on a Muslim family wrongly suspected of keeping beef in their fridge as an "accident".

Since he was became prime minister in 2014, watchdog groups have criticised the government crackdown on NGOs that have challenged governmental environment policy, and several journalists who have raised questions over police brutality and violence targeted at Muslims have been arrested and charged with sedition.

In a statement Allan Hogarth, head of policy at Amnesty UK, said:

The UK needs to do more than unfurl the red carpet for yet another world leader, Mr Cameron must raise some red flags on human rights concerns too.

There’s a fevered crackdown on critics underway in India at the moment. NGOs and activists face multiple obstructions to carrying out their work... Mr Cameron should speak out for the people Mr Modi is so intent on silencing and make it clear that how a country treats its NGOs is a litmus test for their international standing.

A 'Modi Not Welcome' protest outside Downing Street and on Parliament Square was due to take place this afternoon.

Many of the supporters have links to Muslim or Dalit (the former untouchable caste) relations in India, or are protesting perceived Indian interference in Nepali politics and business.

Modi is due to address 60,000 admirers at a cultural event at Wembley stadium on Friday, following up his sell-out appearance at New York's Madison Square Gardens.

While still popular with many Indians abroad, Modi is under increasing political pressure at home.

His party lost the key state of Bihar in a regional election last week.

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