2002 Gujarat Riots: UK MP Demands Bodies of Three Victims to be Repatriated From India
The 2002 Gujarat state riots left more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, dead. The riots erupted after 58 Hindu pilgrims were charred to death when their train's coach caught fire at the railway station in Godhra in the district of Panchmahal on 27 February. The cause of the fire on the train coach still remains unknown.
British MP Kim Leadbeater has demanded that three dead bodies who were victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots
be repatriated from India.
The Labour MP was speaking in a Westminster committee room on Wednesday where a few Members of Parliament (MPs) were observing the 20th anniversary of the Gujarat riots.
Foreign Office Minister Amanda Milling said the British government would support the demand for the bodies to be returned.
“Even now, as we approach the 20th anniversary of [the Gujarat Riots], there is no agreement on the facts of what happened ... All we can say with certainty is that, at the very least, 1,000 people lost their life and that the majority of them were Muslims," said Leadbeater.
She also demanded that a coroner from the United Kingdom
be allowed to carry out an inquest into their deaths.
The family members of the three victims - Shakeel, Said Dawood, and Mohammed Assad - are British citizens and live in the MP’s West Yorkshire constituency of Batley and Spen.
“Not long after they crossed the state border into Gujarat, their Jeep was stopped at a roadblock. A mob encircled the vehicle, demanding to know their religion. They replied that they were Muslim and that they were British citizens on holiday,” Leadbeater, MP for Batley and Spen, said.
“So I ask the minister to investigate with the Indian authorities, whether the repatriation of the remains is possible,” she added.
India's High Commission in London told the India Today news outlet
that it is apprised of the discussion which was held relating to the “tragic sequence of events that took place in India 20 years ago”.
"However, the families of the victims have not yet approached the Indian mission," it added.
“As has been abundantly acknowledged by speakers in today’s discussion, since 2002 due process of law has been followed, closely supervised by the Supreme Court of India,” the High Commission added.
Gujarat is mostly populated by Hindus, with Muslims constituting a minority. In 2002, more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed during religious riots. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the state chief of Gujarat at that time.