The Indian leader is in the UK for a three-day official visit during which he will partake in business negotiations and be hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
In a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Modi announced increased levels of collaboration between India and the UK on climate change and clean energy, including a civil nuclear agreement and a commitment to “intensify our political dialogue.”
However, British Indians living in the UK believe Modi should not be welcomed by the state due to the religions tensions that have risen during his rule.
Indian novelist Arundhati Roy wrote in the Indian Express that minority religions such as Christians, Muslims and Sikhs are “being forced to live in terror, unsure of when and from where the assault will come.”
Hundreds of demonstrators from around the UK gathered outside Downing Street on Thursday afternoon, holding placards and signs saying “Modi Not Welcome.” Some posters even display pictures of Modi and Hitler, suggesting the Indian leader’s policies promote ethnic cleansing.
Jas Singh, from Sikh rights group Das Khalsa UK, told RT the protest displayed a united front formed of minority religions against “the politics of Hindu fascism.”
“All the minorities here have put on a united front,” he said. They are protesting against the “politics of Hindu fascism” also known as “Hindutva ideology.”
He said the demonstration intends to “highlight the atrocities” visited on minority groups “due to this ideology.” Singh added that “we see the ideology as Nazism.”
“Modi is a new Hitler rising in the east.”
The united front against Modi launched on Sunday when secular group Awaaz projected a swastika onto the Houses of Parliament, saying it was aimed at highlighting the way Modi uses religious symbols for authoritarian ends. The swastika is actually the OM sign in Hinduism.
“I think it sent a clear message that a large part of the Indian community here rejects the politics of hate and intolerance, wherever it takes place,” Awaaz Network representative Suresh Grover said.
Singh added the protest was just the first of many during the visit.
“Tomorrow there will be an even bigger protest at Wembley,” he said, with up to 8,000 people expected to attend.
The protests are also linked to the #SikhLivesMatter demonstration, which took place in October, when London Sikhs rallied against Punjabi police brutality outside the Indian embassy.
“Recent deaths in Punjab have again brought to light the plight of ethnic minorities in India. Sikhs have continually found themselves victims of the most severe kind of police brutality, leading to the death of unarmed protesters and even bystanders during gatherings,” the Sikh Press Association said in a statement.
“However, there still seems to be a lack of empathy regarding the suffering of Sikhs. As such, the social media #SikhLivesMatter has been created to draw attention to the acts of Indian government’s atrocities which often go unnoticed in the mainstream media,” it added.