Hague raises Gujarat riots issue with Sushma

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July 12, 2014

U.K. nationals Saeed and Shakil Dawood, and Mohammed Aswat were allegedly killed by a mob in Prantij, near Ahmedabad, in 2002

In this July 8, 2014 photo, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj meets British Foreign Secretary William Hague in New Delhi.

July 12, 2014

U.K. nationals Saeed and Shakil Dawood, and Mohammed Aswat were allegedly killed by a mob in Prantij, near Ahmedabad, in 2002

In this July 8, 2014 photo, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj meets British Foreign Secretary William Hague in New Delhi.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague became the first foreign dignitary visiting India since the swearing-in of the NDA government to take up the issue of 2002 Gujarat riots, The Hindu has learnt. Mr. Hague made the reference during his meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj over the case of brothers Saeed and Shakil Dawood, and their friend, Mohammed Aswat, U.K. nationals who were visiting India when the communal violence broke out in February 2002.

The three men and their driver were allegedly killed by a mob in Prantij, near Ahmedabad, and their families in the U.K. have since run a campaign for hastening justice in the case. They have also been pleading to have all their family members’ remains returned to the U.K. for burial, although the body of one of those presumed dead has never been found. The case was reported by the lone survivor of the attack, a nephew of the Dawood brothers, and has been continuing in a Gujarat district court, as evidence is still being recorded.

Ms. Swaraj is understood to “have taken note of Mr. Hague’s concerns, and explained that the judicial processes in the country would take their own course.”

The exchange didn’t find a mention in the press briefings by British officials or the MEA, but sources said Mr. Hague brought up the demand of the families of the dead men towards the end of his discussion with Ms. Swaraj.

In its reply to a specific question e-mailed by The Hindu, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office replied: “The Foreign Secretary raised this case during his call on Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj [July 8, 2014], the appropriate person to raise consular issues with.”

In the wake of the 2002 riots, the British government clamped an unofficial boycott of Mr. Modi’s government, avoiding most official contact with them. In 2005, he had to cancel his visit to London to celebrate “Gujarat Day” after the British government warned of big protests and an imminent threat to his life from radical Islamist groups there.

Unlike the U.S., the U.K. never revoked Mr. Modi’s visa, and in 2012 ended its boycott when British High Commissioner James Bevan met with Mr. Modi in Gandhinagar. During his current visit, Mr. Hague also signalled the U.K.’s desire to accelerate ties with Gujarat, by upgrading its trade office in Ahmedabad to a full-scale Deputy High Commission.


Courtesy: PTI

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