JCB demolition row threatens to bulldoze first day of Boris Johnson’s India trip

Boris Johnson has been embroiled in controversy on the first morning of his long-awaited diplomatic visit to India after inaugurating a new JCB factory, one day after the company’s machines were used to illegally bulldoze Muslim homes and businesses in Delhi.

JCB is owned by Lord Bamford, who is close with the Prime Minister and backed his Conservative leadership bid in 2019. Through his business interests, he has also donated at least £10 million in cash and gifts to the Conservatives since 2001.

On Thursday, civil society activists and members of the Indian public accused the under-fire Mr Johnson of carrying out an ill-timed visit to the plant in Gujarat, the home state of Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister.

Sushant Singh, a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, a Delhi-based think tank, said: “The people working in Boris Johnson’s office are clearly unaware of the major human rights controversy over the use of JCB machinery in the bulldozing of Muslim homes and businesses in states ruled by Mr Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] and in India’s capital. 

“Inaugurating a factory which is producing machinery seen to target Muslims at the behest of Mr Modi does not set a good image for Mr Johnson or the United Kingdom in India.”

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