Boris Johnson's visit to the JCB factory on April 21 was criticised as "tone-deaf". AFP
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been slammed by two women MPs in the UK over his visit to a JCB factory in Gujarat days after excavators razed homes and shops in several states in the wake of communal clashes.
The MPs also questioned if the British Prime Minister brought up the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
While the BJP-led governments and civic bodies have stressed that the demolitions were carried out to remove encroachment, the Opposition and activists have accused them of targeting Muslims in the garb of removing encroachment.
Speaking in the UK's House of Commons, Labour MP for Nottingham East, Nadia Whittome, questioned if Prime Minister Johnson's recent visit to India had helped legitimise the demolitions carried out by the BJP-led administrations in various states.
She pointed to Mr Johnson's photographs with an excavator on a visit to the factory of British heavy equipment maker JCB near Vadodara soon after North Delhi Municipal Corporation, controlled by BJP, razed homes and shops in Jahangirpuri.
"We know that during the Prime Minister's visit, he was photographed leaning out of a digger in a JCB factory. Just days before the BJP used JCB bulldozers to bulldoze Muslim shops and homes and the gate of a mosque in New Delhi," Ms Whittome said.
"Did the Prime Minister raise this with (Prime Minister) Modi. If not, why not? And does the Minister accept that the Prime Minister's visit to India has helped legitimise the actions of Modi's far-right government?"
Zarah Sultana, MP from Coventry South, also raised the issue in the UK Parliament and said Mr Johnson's visit to the JCB factory "shows how much he really cares about human rights".
"Boris Johnson failed to challenge Modi on the BJP whipping-up anti-Muslim violence during his trip to India. Instead he visited a JCB factory the day after the company's bulldozers demolished Muslim homes in Delhi," tweeted Ms Sultana, whose family had moved from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to the UK before she was born.
Responding to both MPs, the government benches said they condemn discrimination and raise such issues when needed.
Earlier, Mr Johnson's visit to the JCB factory on April 21 was criticised as "tone-deaf" and "ironic".
The demolition in Delhi's Jahangirpuri was carried out after clashes between two communities during a Hanuman Jayanti procession. The clash followed several incidents of communal tension in various parts of the country on Ram Navami.
JCB is among the largest manufactures of earth movers and excavators and over the years, the term bulldozers has come to be synonymous with JCB in India.