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Rights activists press for Modi's arrest

By Hasan Suroor

LONDON, MARCH 24. Asian human rights activists were today trying to obtain an arrest warrant against the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, ahead of his planned visit to Britain tomorrow. The visit has since been cancelled. Suresh Grover of the `Monitoring Group' and `Awaaz' — the two organisations spearheading the campaign for Mr. Modi's arrest — said: "We are making all efforts to have him arrested for torture under the British Criminal Justice Act."

Mr. Grover said the family of two British nationals, Saeed and Sakil Daud, who were killed in the Gujarat violence, had given their "consent" for a case to be filed against Mr. Modi. A case demanding compensation from the Gujarat Government was pending in an Indian court.

Mr. Grover said that a similar move during Mr. Modi's visit in 2003 had failed on a technicality. This time they were on firmer grounds, he claimed.

"Unlike on the previous occasion, this time we have the consent of the Daud family to seek Mr. Modi's arrest on their behalf," he said. Efforts were being made to get the same judge, who had heard the case in 2003, to give them a hearing again.

More organisations urged the British Government to revoke Mr. Modi's visa, arguing that his visit would "inflame" passions.

The Indian Muslim Federation (UK) said in a letter to the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, that Mr. Modi's visit would be "damaging to the British community." "The United States Government has revoked Mr. Modi's visa... and we strongly urge you to act on a similar basis and stop his visit to the U.K.," the Federation president, Shamsuddin Agha, said a day after the South Asia Solidarity Group and the Council of Indian Muslims (UK) issued similar calls.

Mr. Modi, who is scheduled to meet Gujarati businessmen and his party supporters during the three-day visit, will face protests on his arrival. The British Government has made it clear that it would have "no contact" with him because of its "concerns" over his administration's role in the 2002 communal violence.

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