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News updated at 5:31 PM IST

British Sikhs to oppose any Modi visit to UK

London, Aug 29, 2013 (PTI) 21:33 IST

British Sikhs have expressed opposition to any proposed visit by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to the UK.

The Sikh Federation (UK) has joined Muslim groups like the Council of Indian Muslims UK (CIM-UK) in their boycott following an invitation for Modi to visit Britain by some Indian groups of the country's two main political parties earlier this month.

"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," said Amrik Singh, chair of the Sikh Federation (UK).

The federation, a non-governmental organisation registered as a political party in the UK, claims that Modi has shown "animosity and hatred" towards minorities in India, including Sikhs, Christians and Muslims.

"Sikhs in the UK will 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," Singh said.

"It demonstrates his policy to make Gujarat, and eventually India, a Hindu state with no place for minorities," he added.

The move comes after CIM-UK in an open letter addressed to the UK government ministers and political party leaders expressed "utter disgust" over an invitation for the chairman of the BJP's national election committee.

The UK government, like the US, had distanced itself from Modi in the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat riots until late last year when the British high commissioner to India, James Bevan, made diplomatic overtures towards the Gujarat chief minister.

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