Nearly 40 British MPs have signed a motion calling on David Cameron to raise human rights concerns with India's prime minister, Narendra Modi. The motion was started by Jim Cunningham, Labour MP for Coventry South, in July 2015. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is among the list of supporters, alongside Alex Salmond from the SNP.
Among other issues, the Early Day Motion calls for the release of a number of political prisoners held by the Indian state, condemns the ban on Indian Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai from coming to the UK to address British MPs, and questions the Indian government's ban on the BBC's documentary 'India's Daughter', as well as attempts from Indian authorities to block the film from being shown in the UK. The motion also cites an Amnesty International special report on human rights atrocities in Kashmir.
Sponsors of the motion include John McDonnell (Labour), Peter Bottomley (Conservative), Paul Monaghan (SNP), Ronnie Campbell (Labour) and Alan Meale (Labour).
"I was very happy to support the Early Day Motion in respect of the promotion of human rights in India," Monaghan told IBTimes UK. "While I recognise and respect the right of the people of India to develop their culture and their society as they see fit, I would equally, with the greatest of respect, ask political leaders in India to review the circumstances surrounding the hunger strikes and other protests currently being undertaken by individuals fighting for recognition of human rights in that country."
The motion is supported by a dominant proportion of Labour party MPs, presenting a contrast with a group of Labour party MPs who have actively supported Prime Minister Modi and his visit to the UK in November.
Four Labour MPs have also announced that they would be donating their pay rise to help fund a welcome reception for the Indian Prime Minister at Wembley Arena. One of these Labour MPs had previously signed the motion raising concerns about India's human rights record under Modi, however, Virendra Sharma appeared to have withdrawn his signature before making a donation to the UK Welcomes Modi group.
Jeremy Corbyn has signed the motion as a supporter, rather than a sponsor, but this isn't the first time the newly elected Labour leader has been involved in an Early Day Motion regarding Modi. Corbyn previously sponsored a motion in 2013 calling on the UK's Home Department to reinstitute the ban on Narendra Modi, citing "his role in the communal violence in 2002" in Gujarat. He also tabled a motion in 2015 "deploring" PM Modi's ban on the BBC documentary 'India's Daughter', with 60 MPs signing it in support at the time.
The Indian PM will be visiting the UK in mid-November. He will be the first Indian leader to visit the UK in nearly a decade and is expected to address the UK's Indian community at Wembley arena on 13 November. More than 60,000 people have registered to attend the event. However, a number of Indians in the UK have planned demonstrations to protest against Modi's visit. The groups are also concerned about a number of human rights issues under the current prime minister.
Virendra Sharma had not responded to requests for comment on his involvement with the Early Day Motion at press time.