Dow Jones’ Consumer Media Group has cancelled an international prestigious  business event in London at which Narendra Modi, chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, was scheduled to speak. The India Summit 2009 was due to take place at the Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, on 19–20 May. It would have been addressed by international business moguls and security experts and was publicised as a launch pad for financial investment in India.

However, the anticipated presence in London of Narendra Modi attracted mass opposition from British Asian communities, and human rights and community organisations. Narendra Modi is widely regarded as having orchestrated anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat in 2002 in which over 2,000 people were killed, hundreds of women were raped and over 100, 000 people displaced.

A campaigning group – the Coalition to Stop Narendra Modi – was established to demand that the government prevent Narendra Modi from entering the UK. Prior to the cancellation of the India Summit 2009, representations were made to ministers requesting that Narendra Modi not be allowed to enter the UK.

Suresh Grover, civil rights campaigner and chair of the Coalition to Stop Narendra Modi, said: ‘Having spoken to Dow Jones representatives, it is not entirely clear why such a major conference has been cancelled at the last moment. They claim that it is for “business reasons”. Dow Jones needs to be transparent with the public and explain why they invited Narendra Modi – a person associated with gross human rights violations – in the first place or admit their mistake so that it is not repeated again.’

Professor Gautam Appa of the London School of Economics said: ‘If Modi had attended the India Summit, it would have legitimised his role in one of the most brutal chapters of communal violence in India. The cancellation of India Summit is very welcome news indeed. It seems inconceivable that Modi’s human rights record played no role in the decision. Let us rejoice that he won’t be coming to these shores.’

The cancellation of the India Summit 2009 follows on from an earlier cancellation of a planned visit by Narendra Modi to the UK in 2005, when campaigners successfully lobbied the British government to refuse to support his visit. He has also twice been refused a visa to enter the US – in 2005 and 2008 – because of his track record of promoting religious hatred.

Notes to editors

  1. The Coalition to Stop Narendra Modi is supported by The Monitoring Group, Awaaz South Asia Watch, the Council of Indian Muslims, the Indian Muslim Federation, British Muslims for Secular Democracy, Muslim Parliament, Southall Black Sisters, South Asia Solidarity Group and the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities, as well as a number of progressive individuals.
  2. Narendra Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat during the 2002 pogroms carried out by Hindu extremist mobs. Over 2,000 people were killed, many being burnt alive, hundreds of women were raped and molested, and hundreds of thousands of people made homeless. Among those killed were three UK citizens who were visiting Gujarat at the time. In the midst of the riots, rather than call for an end to the killing, Narendra Modi stated, ‘Every action has an equal and opposite reaction’, effectively legitimising the violence as a collective punishment of Muslims. Moreover, national and international human rights groups – including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and India’s National Human Rights Commission (a federal government body) – have held Narendra Modi responsible for orchestrating the massacres of 2002 and subverting the rule of law in order to facilitate them.
  3. In 2003, the Indian Supreme Court found that the state government of Gujarat, led by Narendra Modi, had actively supported the anti-Muslim violence and ordered the police not to interfere. According to a detailed investigation by Human Rights Watch, the police under Narendra Modi’s command also helped Hindu nationalist mobs locate Muslim addresses. Furthermore, Narendra Modi’s government has failed to support the thousands of Muslims who were forced into refugee camps; instead he has branded these camps as ‘baby-making factories’.
  4. According to the US State Department, Narendra Modi’s administration has also introduced school textbooks that praise Hitler and Nazism. The textbooks refer to the ‘charismatic personality’ of ‘Hitler the Supremo’ and describe the ‘achievements of Nazism’ at length. The textbooks do not acknowledge Nazi extermination policies or concentration camps except for a passing reference to ‘a policy of opposition towards the Jewish people and [advocacy for] the supremacy of the German race’. Narendra Modi has been active in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu extremist organisation which has a well documented history of venerating fascism.
  5. Narendra Modi has also been accused of harassing Christian organisations and communities in Gujarat, particularly those carrying out relief work for the victims of Hindu extremist violence.