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Modi puts off trip to U.K.

By Our Special Correspondent



Narendra Modi

GANDHINAGAR, MARCH 24. The Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, has postponed his trip to the United Kingdom on the advice of the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, to avoid possible law and order problems in that country.

A spokesman of the Chief Minister's office here said Mr. Modi received a call from Dr. Singh and the Union Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, at around 10.30 p.m. advising him not to go to the U.K. in view of possible law and order problems.

He was told that the Centre had received communication to this effect from the U.K. He was also told that there was a possibility of a terrorist attack and that his own security was under threat. "Mr Modi decided to postpone the visit accepting the Prime Minister's advice," the spokesman said.

The spokesman made it clear that though the trip was "postponed" for the time being, it was likely to be cancelled later. Mr. Modi was scheduled to leave for the U.K. tomorrow to attend a "Gujarat Day" celebrations in London on March 26 and address a meeting of non-resident Indians the next day. He was to return to India on March 28.

Though, unlike the U.S., the U. K. did not withdraw his visa, some human rights organisations in Britain had threatened to stage demonstrations if Mr. Modi visited that country. He had visited the U.K. in 2003, about a year after the Gujarat riots, and had to face some noisy protests. But the demonstrations this time were feared to be more vehement, particularly after the U. S. refusal to grant him visa.

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