Engaging Modi, not an endorsement: UK High Commission

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BEVANNew Delhi, August 22; Nearly 10 months after it ended its decade-long boycott of Narendra Modi, the United Kingdom on Thursday said any engagement with Gujarat Chief Minister was not an endorsement of him and expressed concern over human rights violations in the state.

U.K. High Commissioner James Bevan also asserted that three British nationals were killed in the 2002 Gujarat riots and his country wants “justice” for them.

“We do have human rights concerns. Three UK citizens were also killed in the riots and we want trial and justice for that. Engaging in conversation would be better to support our cause,” said the envoy.

Referring to his meeting with Mr. Modi last October, Mr. Bevan said it was a diplomatic meet and engaging with him does not mean his endorsement.

“I had a conversation with Gujarat Chief Minister in last October and it is good to know important people in a country.

“I am not in awe of the man or his past, I am here to do my job and any engagement does not necessarily mean endorsement,” he said while interacting with the gathering at Jamia Millia Islamia after delivering a talk.

Replying to a question on recent invitation by Opposition party’s Labour Friends of India to Mr. Modi to speak on ‘The Future of Modern India’, Mr. Bevan said, “It is a private invitation issued to the Gujarat Chief Minister by the members of British parliament. The members of British Parliament are free to invite whoever they wish to invite.”

Asked whether Mr. Modi will be granted visa if he applies for it, he refused a direct reply and said, “It’s a hypothetical situation, so I would not like to comment on that.”

U.K. ended a 10-year boycott of the BJP leader in the aftermath of 2002 communal riots.

Earlier this year, European Union also ended its decade-old boycott of Mr. Modi over the riots issue when envoys and representatives of several EU member countries hosted a luncheon meeting for Mr. Modi here.

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