Indian-origin academics in UK 'dread' Modi in power, issue open letter

Last Updated 22 April 2014, 17:48 IST

Around 75 professors and other academics of Indian origin working at some of Britain's prestigious institutions such as Cambridge and Oxford university and London School of Economics today issued an open letter, sharply attacking Narendra Modi and saying, "The idea of Modi in power fills us with dread".

The academics led by Prof. Chetan Bhatt and Gautam Appa of the London School of Economics issued the open letter in the UK’s Left-leaning 'Independent' newspaper.

"As the people of India vote to elect their next government, we are deeply concerned at the implications of a Narendra Modi-led BJP government for democracy, pluralism and human rights in India," the letter said targeting the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate.

"Narendra Modi is embedded in the Hindu Nationalist movement, namely the RSS and other Sangh Parivar groups, with their history of inciting violence against minorities. Some of these groups stand accused in recent terrorist attacks against civilians," the letter titled "The idea of Modi in power fills us with dread" reads.

The letter followed a similar open letter by Indian-origin author Salman Rushdie and artist Anish Kapoor among others in the 'Guardian' earlier this month.

The letter in 'Independent' published here today reads: "There is widespread agreement about the authoritarian nature of Modi’s rule in Gujarat, further evidenced by the recent sidelining of other senior figures within the BJP. This style of governance can only weaken Indian democracy." "Additionally, the Modi-BJP model of economic growth involves close linking of government with big business, generous transfer of public resources to the wealthy and powerful, and measures harmful to the poor.

A Modi victory would likely mean greater moral policing, especially of women, increased censorship and vigilantism, and more tensions with India’s neighbours," the letter reads.

The academics represent some of the leading British educational establishments, including Oxford University’s Prof. Nandini Gooptu and Prof. Joya Chatterji from Cambridge University.

Like most of the other columns in the British media, the letter refers to the Godhra riots as proof of sectarianism in Gujarat under Modi, who has been the chief minister of the western state for 13 years.

"We recall the extreme violence by the Hindu Right in Gujarat in 2002 which resulted in the deaths of at least 1,000 people, mostly Muslims. This violence occurred under Modi’s rule, and senior government and police officials have provided testimony of his alleged role in encouraging or permitting it to occur," the letter says.

(Published 22 April 2014, 17:43 IST)

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