Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi could be among those likely to be affected by new immigration rules under which non-European Union citizens accused of serious human rights abuses may be banned from entering Britain.
Rights campaigners on Sunday said they would demand that the proposed rules be used to keep out Mr. Modi because of his alleged role in the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat.
There were widespread protests when he was allowed to visit Britain in 2003, and a planned visit in 2005 was called off at the last minute after a determined bid by rights groups to get an arrest warrant against him.
The South Asia Solidarity Group said such a law must be applied to Mr. Modi as his role in the Gujarat “genocide” was well-documented.
“We as a group are not in favour of Britain monitoring human rights abuses in other countries but if there is going to be such a law it should be used to ban Narendra Modi because a wide range of human rights groups and independent organisations, including Amnesty, have noted his role in the Gujarat genocide. We hope political considerations will not override this in case of Mr. Modi,” said its spokesperson Amrit Wilson.
Currently, only those regarded as a threat to national security can be denied entry into Britain but the new rules, expected to be announced on Monday as part of the Government's Human Rights Report, would allow Ministers to refuse visa in cases where there is “reliable and credible evidence that an individual has committed human rights abuses.”
The Observer quoted one official as saying that this would mean that those involved in serious human rights abuses such as torture, murder or illegal detention “won't have an open ticket to the U.K.”
The Foreign Office declined to give details saying the report was embargoed until Monday morning.
There was scepticism in some circles whether the rule would be fairly and uniformly applied after it emerged that there would be no blanket ban on human rights abusers and Ministers would still have the discretion to waive it in individual cases.
“It looks like an attempt to target those the government of the day doesn't like rather than a serious bid to deter human rights abusers,” said one campaigner.