A United Kingdom MP on Wednesday sought the repatriation of the bodies of three victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots to that country, The Telegraph reported.
Large-scale communal violence had erupted in Gujarat in February and March 2002 after the burning of a passenger train coach in Godhra. Official figures say the riots resulted in the deaths of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat at the time.
Labour MP Kim Leadbeater made the demand for repatriation of bodies during a discussion on the riots by a small group of British MPs in a Westminster committee room. They were marking the 20th anniversary of the riots.
Leadbeater also demanded that a coroner from the United Kingdom should be allowed to carry out an inquest into the circumstances of their deaths. The family members of the three victims are citizens of the United Kingdom and live in the Labour MP’s constituency.
In response to Leadbeater, Minister of State for Asia Amanda Milling said that the British government would support the demand for the return of the bodies.
Leadbeater called for an acknowledgement of the belief of the family of the victims that justice “is yet to be done” in the riots.
The three persons whose bodies have been sought to be repatriated are Shakeel, Saeed Dawood and Mohammed Aswad. They were said to have been travelling to Gujarat after a trip to the Taj Mahal when they were killed. A person named Imran, who was the nephew of Shakeel and Saeed, survived the attack.
Leadbeater said that 20 years after the riots, there is no agreement on what happened during the violence and who was complicit. “All we can say with certainty is that at the very least 1,000 people lost their lives, and that the majority of them were Muslims,” she said, according to The Telegraph.
“Nothing that is said or done today can bring Shakeel, Saeed or Mohammad back,” the Labour MP said. “But that doesn’t mean that nothing can be done to provide some comfort to the Dawood family. And after 20 years, possibly even some sense of being able to move forward with their lives. It causes them enormous hurt that the remains of their three young men have never been returned to them.”
The Indian Mission in London took note of the debate, but said that it was not approached to engage on the matter, WION reported. “As has been abundantly acknowledged by speakers in today’s discussion, since 2002, due process of law has been followed, closely supervised by the Supreme Court of India,” the mission added.