"Boris Johnson’s visit is now turning increasingly tone-deaf."
During his two-day tour of India, Boris Johnson’s visit to inaugurate a JCB factory has been dubbed “tone deaf”.
This is amid the destruction of mostly Muslim homes in the country using the company’s bulldozers.
The PM arrived in India on April 21, 2021, a day after municipal authorities in Delhi moved in with JCB bulldozers to raze homes and properties of mainly Muslim residents in an area of the capital where religious riots broke out over the weekend.
The incident led to uproar and many noted the timing of Mr Johnson’s JCB factory visit.
He had attended the inauguration of a new plant in Vadodara, Gujarat.
Political commentators pointed out that bulldozers and diggers manufactured by the company were used to demolish houses during the incident in Jahangirpuri the day before.
What a bulldozer of an irony! British PM @BorisJohnson will inaugurate the JCB plant in Halol that will manufacture bulldozers on a day when Supreme Court is taking cognisance of the constitutional limits of the administration’s use of the machine. #jahagirpuri
— sanjay kapoor (@sanjaykpr) April 21, 2022
Journalist Alishan Jafri tweeted: “JCB’s website proudly notes that it is used for construction, agriculture, recycling and power generation.
“In India, it is being used to dispossess the poor and inflict collective humiliation upon Muslims.
“Hope that friends in the UK will make hold their PM to account.”
Mohamed Zeeshan, a leading Muslim columnist in India said:
“Seems like Boris Johnson’s visit is now turning increasingly tone-deaf.
“Visiting a plant of the JCB company while its bulldozers are being used to illegally terrorise Muslims?
“Someone at The British High Commission in India failed to do their job. The only way Johnson can salvage this trip is by speaking up.”
Amnesty India called his visit “not only ignorant but his silence on the incident is deafening”.
During his visit, Boris Johnson dismissed questions about authoritarianism in his host country and insisted that India “is democratic”.
He said: “We always raise the difficult issues, of course we do, but the fact is that India is a country of 1.35 billion people and it is democratic, it’s the world’s largest democracy.”
Asked if it was an embarrassment for the PM that JCB should find itself involved in a court case the day after he visited its factory, Mr Johnson’s official spokesperson said:
“It is a matter for the Indian authorities how any equipment is used.”
The spokesperson denied that Mr Johnson had visited the JCB plant because the firm’s boss, Lord Bamford, is a major Tory donor.
“He chose to go to the JCB factory because it is a very good illustration of a UK business working with India and the Indian government to benefit both the UK and India.
“The factory visited today is the sixth one they have opened here. They are one of the biggest producers in India of this sort of equipment.”
Mr Johnson’s visit to India comes amid ongoing discussions surrounding ‘Partygate’.