Hundreds of people gathered at Number 10 Downing Street to protest against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who began his three-day trip to the UK on 12 November. A number of different groups took part in the protest, including Sikhs, Muslims, Nepalese, Kashmiris, and womens rights organisations, all of whom cited a concern over growing intolerance under Modis rule. London Mayoral candidate George Galloway also attended the protest.
The protest was organised by the Awaaz Network, which has actively campaigned against the UK welcoming the Indian prime minister. The groups anti-Modi campaign has comprised a number of groups across the UK and it was also responsible for projecting Modi Not Welcome on to the Houses of Parliament on 8 November.
[Narendra Modi] wants to sell the idea of a Digital India, a clean India and a developed and self-sufficient India, a spokesperson for the Awaaz Network said. The reality is the unleashing of a violent authoritarian agenda that seeks to undermine Indias democratic and secular fabric.
The Modi Not Welcome protest took place as the Indian prime minister met with his counterpart, David Cameron, who described the visit as a historic opportunity. Protesters appeared to catch a glimpse of Modi through the gates of 10 Downing Street as he was welcomed by a Horse Guards Parade, with chants of Modi is a terrorist becoming louder.
A small group of Modi supporters gathered across the street from the main protest to stage a counter-demonstration. However, the group appeared to disperse after a short while.
Modis visit to the UK comes at a controversial time in the Indian prime ministers leadership as many have begun questioning him about his silence over recent unrest in India. In October, more than 40 Indian writers returned top national awards in protest over a climate of intolerance under Modi.
Alongside recent controversy, protesters outside Downing Street also spoke of Modis role in the Gujarat riots of 2002, which saw hundreds of Muslims massacred. Many protesters held up signs stating Modi is a killer and one sign called him a butcher of Muslims in Gujarat.
In October, a similar protest was staged by the Sikh community in London, with hundreds gathering outside the Indian High Commission to protest against the killing of Sikh protesters in India. Modi has remained largely silent on the matter, as well as on the killings of Muslim men by Hindu mobs.
It is believed Modi met members of the Sikh community shortly after landing in London. However, the Sikh Federation UK dismissed the meeting. A spokesperson for the organisation said: The Sikh community will not be forgiving those who meet Modi and in effect are termed sell outs.
Modi is due to address the Indian diaspora at Wembley Stadium on 13 November, with up to 60,000 people expected to attend the event. Prior to the event, he is expected to have lunch with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, an event many protesters raised their concern over.