UK to Raise ‘Persecution’ of Minorities in India During Commonwealth Meet
Citing the alleged persecution of minorities in countries such as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, British MPs asked for a discussion on the issue during the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Britain will bring up the issue of the alleged oppression of minorities like Sikhs and Christians in India at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London and Windsor in April, the Hindustan Times reported.
The decision has been taken following last week’s debate at Westminster Hall of the House of Commons on “Freedom of religion or belief” where members of parliament cited details of suspected persecution in countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and others, the report added. The MPs demanded that the issue should be discussed when the commonwealth leaders visit the country for CHOGM.
Quoting from some reports, Martin Docherty-Hughes of the Scottish National Party (SNP) said that India was one of the most unsafe countries to practice Christianity. He mentioned the detention of his constituent, Jagtar Singh Johal, in Punjab. Docherty-Hughes claimed that “members of the Sikh community across the United Kingdom have become gravely concerned that they, too, may be detained on the simple premise of being a member of the Sikh faith,” HT reported.
Johal, a UK National, was taken into custody on Nov. 4 along with four others by the Punjab Police in a terror module case when he was visiting India for his wedding.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said that it would want to see the transcripts of the debate before commenting on the issue, according to the report.
The issue of the alleged persecutions of Christians was raised by Docherty-Hughes and Fabian Hamilton of Labour Party. Docherty-Hughes said that ancient roots of Christianity are in India.
“The Republic of India, the world’s largest democracy, has a legal system based on common law, is a signatory to many UN declarations, including on human rights, and is a Commonwealth nation,” said Docherty-Hughes.
“My frequent jousting partner, the hon. Member for West Dunbartonshire (Docherty-Hughes), alluded to a consular case that we continue to work closely on,” said Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Minister for Asia and Pacific Mark Field in response to the debate.
Field added that Docherty-Hughes made some thoughtful points about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and about Christian and Sikh minorities in India. “We will do our best to raise some of those in an appropriate manner at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in mid-April, to ensure that Parliament’s voice is properly heard,” Field added.
When Modi is in London for the CHOGM from April 16 to 20, bilateral meetings are also expected to be held between him and UK Prime Minister Theresa May. This will be Modi’s second visit to London as prime minister, the first one being in November 2015.