August 26, 2013 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
London, United Kingdom (August 26, 2013): In a written statement sent to the Sikh Siyasat News (SSN): [t]he Sikh Federation (UK) has said it will join others to oppose the visit to the UK of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi one of the most controversial pro-Hindu politicians who has shown through his actions his animosity and hatred towards minorities in India, including Sikhs, Christians and Muslims.
Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK), said:
‘We welcome the fact that the UK Government has not invited Modi, but oppose the tiny minority of pro-Indian Labour and Conservative MPs led by Barry Gardiner the Labour MP from Brent North and Sailesh Vara, the Conservative MP from North West Cambridgeshire who have recently sent Modi invitations and want him to address UK MPs.’
Inviting Modi is showing support for right wing Hindu extremism. A report produced by the British High Commission in India that was leaked to the BBC stated the violence in Gujarat in 2002 far from being spontaneous, was planned, possibly months in advance, carried out by an extremist Hindu organisation with the support of the state government and had all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing.
Foreign Office Ministers have made clear in the past and with respect to the likes of Jagdish Tytler and Narendra Modi ‘. . . our policy is clear that entry shall be refused for immigration purposes or to any individual who may present safety or security risk; where their presence in the United Kingdom would not be conducive to the public good; or if there is independent, reliable and credible evidence that they have committed human rights abuses . . .’
In the last few weeks Modi and the Gujarat Government have been exposed for targeting Sikh farmers in Kutch District in Gujarat. The Modi government first confiscated land measuring over 20,000 acres in Kutch by invoking the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1958 and ‘evicted’ Sikh farmers. Sikh farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, who had settled in Kutch after the Indo-Pak war of 1965, were among those affected when the Gujarat government confiscated the land. Sikh farmers were first moved to the Kutch District to not only make the land cultivable but also help guard the country’s border.
Around 5,000 Sikhs have cultivated the land in Kutch District for around 50 years and transformed this barren land bordering Pakistan into expensive farmland. Over the last few years they have been systematically targeted by the Gujarat Government and the land mafia. Two years ago, as farmland prices shot up, the State government after confiscating land then barred Sikhs from either selling, or taking loan or subsidy on their land under the Act. It also stopped issuing certified copies of land records. The farmers challenged the order in the Gujarat High Court. After a five-day hearing, a three-Judge Bench ruled in favour of the farmers, stating that there was no mention in the Act that Gujaratis alone could own agriculture land and that the Act only forbade non-farmers from owning land. However, the Gujarat government has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the order that is listed for hearing on 27 August.
Bhai Amrik Singh added: ‘Sikhs in the UK will also lobby UK MPs who return to Parliament in early September and the UK Government to oppose Modi’s visit not only because of his involvement in the violence in Gujarat in 2002, but because of his recent discrimination of Sikh farmers in Kutch District by trying to have them evicted that demonstrate his policy to make Gujarat and eventually India a Hindu state and no place for minorities.’
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