The repeated refusal of Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate Narendera Modi to accept responsibility or to apologise for the Gujarat riots represents "a failure of moral character and political ethics" that is "incompatible with India's secular constitution", writer Salman Rushdie, artist Anish Kapoor, director Deepa Mehta Shahani and more than a dozen other prominent people in the world of culture and academics said in a statement published in Britain's The Guardian newspaper on Thursday.

Here is the text of the statement:

"Without questioning the validity of India's democratic election process, it is crucial to remember the role played by the Modi government in the horrifying events that took place in Gujarat in 2002. The Muslim minority were overwhelmingly the victims of pillage, murder and terror, resulting in the deaths of more than 2,000 men, women and children. Women, in particular, were subjected to brutal acts of violence and were left largely unprotected by the security forces. Although some members of Narendra Modi's government are now facing trial, Modi himself repeatedly refuses to accept any responsibility or to render an apology. Such a failure of moral character and political ethics on the part of Modi is incompatible with India's secular constitution, which, in advance of many constitutions across the world, is founded on pluralist principles and seeks fair and full representation for minorities. Were he to be elected prime minister, it would bode ill for India's future as a country that cherishes the ideals of inclusion and protection for all its peoples and communities."