Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Britain next month has already captured the imagination of the British public – in particular the large and influential British Indian community.
The UK’s NRI community are planning an “Olympics Style” welcome ceremony at the iconic Wembley Stadium and countless politicians, business leaders and community figures are lining up to entertain the leader of the world’s largest democracy and one of the world’s most promising investment destinations.
Not everyone however, is over the moon.
Mr Modi is set to speak at Cambridge University during his visit and it’s causing heated debate at the historic university.
A group of students and faculty members have written to the Vice Chancellor asking that the invitation to Mr Modi be scrapped because it would be seen as condoning “ ongoing attacks on academic freedom and freedom of expression in India”.
The letter reportedly states: “Given that your invitation comes at a time when several prominent Indian writers and intellectuals are returning their state honours in protest against the ongoing assault on civil liberties and academic freedom under Mr Modi’s government , we believe that Mr Modi’s presence at our institution will bring the university into serious disrepute,” their letter said.
Officials from the University however, say Mr Modi’s speech to the university’s senate will go ahead.
Cambridge has historic links with India. The country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru studied there, as did premiers Rajiv Gandhi and Manmohan Singh.
Opponents of Mr Modi’s visit to the university are not the only ones not over the moon about the Indian leader’s visit.
Among those who are planning protests are Awaaz UK – an umbrella network of campaign groups – as well as the Dalit Solidarity Network, Southall Black Sisters and the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism.
This week, some 40 British MP’s signed a motion urging Prime Minister David Cameron to raise human rights concerns with his Indian counterparts.
Among those supporting the motion were Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond.
Among other issues, the motion calls for the release of a number of political prisoners held by the Indian state, condemns the ban on Indian Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai from coming to the UK to address British MPs, and questions the Indian government’s ban on the BBC’s documentary ‘India’s Daughter’, as well as attempts from Indian authorities to block the film from being shown in the UK.
Mr Modi’s visit is the first by an Indian prime minister in nearly a decade.