Hundreds of Sikh, Nepali and Tamil demonstrators gathered outside Downing Street to protest against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Britain on Thursday (12 November). Modi hopes that the visit will yield trade deals worth billions of dollars and be a boost to his authority after a damaging electoral failure back home.
The crowd of people on Whitehall chanted against the Indian Prime Minister and accused him of human rights abuses. Protester Bigyan Brasai criticised the UK for rolling out the red carpet for Modi and said Cameron needed to put pressure on him to stop blockading roads into Nepal.
"The UK should not only look into the political and commercial aspects. The UK has a rich pride and culture of raising a voice for the voiceless countries and people, and instead of the glory of the British values and culture, there is disrespect. They should keep pressure, that you [Modi], what you are doing is wrong," he said.
Nepal adopted a secular constitution in September. Protesters said that Modi's nationalist Hindu party, the BJP, have tried to blockade routes into the Himalayan nation to put pressure on it to stay as a Hindu state. Nepali protester Kapil Rijal said that Cameron should help to find a diplomatic solution.
"The UK is a country of democracy. We can voice ourselves here and I hope David Cameron is going to do something and talk about these issues.There is nothing that can't be solved with diplomacy, but we need something to be done. We need a diplomacy talk going on," he said.
Protesters said that Modi was guilty of human rights abuses, with some banners depicting him with Adolf Hitler alongside a swastika.
"There's tens of thousands of South Asian background people living in this country, the British public. We all know what Modi is capable of and what he has done. He is complicit in war crimes. We are very, very angry that he was welcomed here, speaking in our parliament and shaking hands with the Queen and also elevated and having a party sort of thing tomorrow. We're very angry about that. Why do we have to celebrate this criminal?" said Tamil protester Sanam.
More than 200 writers, including well-known authors, such as Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan and Nikita Lalwani, have signed an open letter to Cameron urging him to raise concerns about freedom of expression in India during their talks. A group of counter-demonstrators, waving British and Indian flags were separated by barriers near Downing Street.
Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister since 2006 to visit Britain. He will address the British Parliament on Thursday afternoon (12 November) and lay a wreath at the Mahatma Ghandi statue in Parliament Square.