Any engagement with Narendra Modi not an endorsement of him: UK envoy

Britain`s High Commissioner to India said on Thursday that any engagement with the Gujarat Chief Minister was not an endorsement of him.

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: More than ten days after Narendra Modi was invited to the United Kingdom by India groups of the country`s two main political parties for talks, Britain`s High Commissioner to India, James Bevan, said on Thursday that any engagement with the Gujarat Chief Minister was not an endorsement of him.

"We do have concerns over human rights violations. Our three nationals were killed in Gujarat riots and we want trial and justice for them," the UK envoy said.

He added, "The British government has not invited Modi."

Nearly 10 months after the British government warmed upto Narendra Modi, he was invited by Opposition party`s Labour Friends of India to speak on `The Future of Modern India`. He was sent a letter by its chairman, Barry Gardiner MP, inviting him to the House of Commons.

"The invitation is a culmination of several years of engagement between senior representatives of the Labour Party and Narendra Modi," the Labour MP for Brent North had said, adding, "He is a politician who cannot be ignored."

He had also said, "I believe it`s in Britain`s best interests that we engage with him as both the chief minister of Gujarat and also potential prime minister."

Also, in a rare show of political unity, the Conservative Friends of India issued their own invite for the chairman of the BJP`s national election committee a day later on August 9.

Its co-chairman, Sailesh Vara MP, struck a personal note in his letter expressing a wish to "finally meet" Modi.

"It would be a great privilege for us to host an event for you. I very much hope that you will take us up on this invitation when opportunity allows," wrote Vara, the Tory MP for North West Cambridgeshire.

The UK government, like the US, had distanced itself from Modi in the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat riots.

However after a series of meetings over the years, initiated by the likes of prominent British Indian economist Lord Meghnad Desai and Barry Gardiner MP, the Conservative-led coalition was forced to re-establish diplomatic ties with the Modi administration last year.

Lord Gulam Noon, a prominent British Indian Labour peer and one time critic of Modi, welcomed the latest invite for him to visit the UK.

October 22 last year, James Bevan, UK`s High Commissioner in India, met with Modi, ending a 10-year boycott of the BJP leader by Britain over the 2002 communal riots.

Earlier this year, European Union also ended its a decade-old boycott of the Gujarat chief minister over the issue when envoys and representatives of several EU member countries hosted a luncheon meeting for Modi in New Delhi.

With PTI inputs

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