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UK rights activists want Modi arrested
Shyam Bhatia in London | August 19, 2003 20:18 IST
Human rights campaigners say they have submitted an application before a London magistrate asking for the arrest of visiting Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
A Bow Street magistrate is expected to respond on Wednesday to claims submitted by three campaigners that Modi and other BJP officials can be linked to last year's communal violence in the state in which an estimated 3,000 people lost their lives.
Suresh Grover, one of the three campaigners who will be represented at Wednesday's hearing, told rediff.com: "We think we can show a connection between BJP officials, including Cabinet ministers, to the incidents that took place in Gujarat."
Grover's said his submission to the magistrate has been co-signed by London School of Economics professor Dr Gautam Appa and fellow human and civil rights activist Jagdish Patel.
"I think we have prima facie evidence that Modi was present when certain actions were decided and he subsequently failed to fulfil his obligations to safeguard the public," Grover added.
The supplicants are pinning their hopes on the precedent that was created when the visiting former Chile dictator General Augustus Pinochet was detained in London for five months, pending his extradition to Spain to face charges of torture filed by relatives of those who suffered under his regime.
The issue became a political hot potato for the British government and Pinochet was eventually released and allowed to return home on grounds of ill health.
Legal experts in London say the magistrate will be within his rights to issue a warrant for Modi's arrest, but a decision on whether to execute the warrant rests with the UK's Attorney General.
Modi is due to leave London for Switzerland on Thursday. On Tuesday evening he is due to address a meeting of business leaders, including NRIs, who have been invited to participate in next month's Vibrant Gujarat Global Investor Summit.