The Opposition parties in the UK have questioned in Parliament Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to visit a British-owned bulldozer factory in Gujarat during his visit to India last week.
A number of Labour Party MPs, including Indian-origin Nadia Whittome, questioned Johnson’s visit to the JCB factory in Halol despite the use of some of the company’s equipment in the controversial demolition of properties in north-west Delhi in the wake of recent communal clashes in Jahangirpuri.
The factory visit had created a stir across social media, pointing to the use of JCB equipment in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s “anti-encroachment” drive in Delhi, an issue referred to the courts.
The BJP (Modi’s governing party) is using JCB diggers to bulldoze the homes and shops of Muslims.
Boris Johnson posed with JCB diggers on his recent visit to India, but his minister wouldn’t say whether he even raised these demolitions with Modi. pic.twitter.com/aIWVw5TLIl
— Nadia Whittome MP (@NadiaWhittomeMP) April 28, 2022
During an ‘Urgent Question’ tabled in the House of Commons on Tuesday by the Scottish National Party (SNP) member of Parliament, Ian Blackford, the Opposition raised cries of “where is he?” after a junior minister was left to answer questions on the topic of “Prime Minister’s Visit to India”.
Vicky Ford, the Under-Secretary of State in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), was deputed on behalf of the government and said the visit would “supercharge” the UK-India trading relationship and that the issue of human rights is regarded as equally important.
At a time when #bulldozers have become a major talking point in the country, #UK Prime Minister #BorisJohnson took the social media by storm by jumping onto a bulldozer during his visit to British heavy equipment maker JCB’s plant at Halol industrial area near Gujarat’s Vadodara. pic.twitter.com/cG8dK1ZOFB
— IANS (@ians_india) April 21, 2022
“We do not pursue trade at the exclusion of human rights,” said Ford.
“We regard both as an important part of a deep, mature and wide-ranging relationship with our partners. The partnership with India is very important for both our countries,” she said.
“If we have concerns, we raise them directly with the Government of India. Our network of deputy high commissions will continue to follow the reports closely, while also recognising that it is a matter for India,” Ford said.