By Caribbean News Now contributor
GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- Narendra Modi, governor of the state of Gujarat, who is alleged to have encouraged and condoned deadly clashes in India in 2002 that saw the death of over 2,000 Muslims, was chosen a week ago by India’s main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as their official prime ministerial candidate. This could have serious repercussion in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), especially in Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, all of which have large Hindu and Muslim populations of Indian descent.
Just last week, a legislator from Modi’s BJP released a fake video of two Hindus being lynched by Muslims that sparked deadly riots in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which saw the death of about 40 people. This has led to the partitioning of villages around Muzaffarnagar where the riots exploded.
About half of the Hindustani labourers that came to Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago beginning in 1838 were from Uttar Pradesh.
Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad have large populations of Muslims and Hindus, most of whom are descendents of Hindustanis from North India and, if Modi becomes prime minister of India, it could have ramifications in the Caribbean.
Modi himself and his BJP are closely associated with the Rasthriya Sewak Sangh, a radical group in India. Back in 2002, Modi did little to stop community riots in the state of Gujarat when he was governor, according to India’s Supreme Court. Deadly clashes between Hindus and Muslims engulfed the state for about a week and some alleged that Modi not only did little to stop the violence but instead encouraged it. In fact, Modi went as far as stopping aid from reaching Muslim refugee camps. He called these camps “baby making factories.”
The human rights group, Amnesty International, in a statement in 2012, said, “The majority of the perpetrators of the Gujarat violence walk free, assuming that they will not be punished by the state institutions, which have simply failed to ensure justice for the victims. The fact that more than 2,000 people can be murdered and the lives of thousands of others shattered in Gujarat with only a small number of the perpetrators brought to justice is offensive to any notion of justice.”
Amnesty International squarely blamed Modi for inciting the mayhem and said, “The special team, which was the only one to have probed allegations that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi belonging to the BJP played a key role in facilitating the riots, referred to his speeches as ‘sweeping and offensive,' but cited lack of evidence to proceed against him.”
Leaders of CARICOM and especially from Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago may find it awkward to deal with Modi if he becomes India’s next prime minister.
A diplomat from the Caribbean said, “It’s a non-issue for now” because Modi is not the prime minister of India and that this is an internal matter of India. These countries may follow the position of regional blocs. The diplomat said that, for example, Guyana may take a CARICOM position on the issue or wait and see how the Commonwealth handles the issue should Modi be elected India’s next prime minister.
Modi is the only individual against whom the US has so far used its visa ban provision related to religious freedom in March 2005 due to his alleged complicity in the 2002 riots.