Blair sued for racist colonialism

Chris Brady cdbrady at
Wed Feb 5 20:52:16 MST 2003

Pay for colonial Britain's sins, Indian tells Blair

IANS[ WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 05, 2003 10:41:13 AM ]
The Times of India Online 
Printed from
>World >Europe

LONDON: An 81-year-old Indian expatriate who was a freedom fighter is
taking Prime Minister Tony Blair to court for failing to apologise for
British colonisation of India.

Ramen Bhattacharya, originally from Kolkata, has filed a case against
Blair under the Race Relations Act because Blair apologised to the Irish
but not to Indians.

Bhattacharya, who fought for independence from the British, and later
rose to become Mayor of Camden borough as he turned to British political
life is not giving up his struggle.

The petition filed by Bhattacharya says: "On 3rd September 2001, the
defendant refused or deliberately omitted to criticise and blame the
British colonial rule for the wrongs done to black, Indian and other
people of non-white origin or their forbears during British colonial
rule, notwithstanding the fact that he criticised and blamed the British
colonial rulers for similar wrongs done to white Irish nationals and
others of Irish origin during British colonial rule."

"By so refusing to criticise and blame, he did an act which constituted
discrimination in breach of the Race Relations Act 1976. The claimant
seeks a declaration in appropriate terms and damages of unspecified

Bhattacharya says if he wins the case - and he believes he will - he
will pay the damages he collects from Blair to a charity.

The case is due to be heard at the Central London County Court on
February 10.  Blair has been given time until February 24 for filing his

The case is new to Downing Street, but taking on a fight is not new to
Bhattacharya.  "I was a top leader of the student movement in Kolkata in
1945-46, and I was involved with the Indian National Army," he says.

Bhattacharya was jailed twice by the British -- once for a few weeks and
another time for 16 months.

Bhattacharya later migrated to Uganda and came to settle in Britain in
the mid-1960s.  He began to teach in south London schools after his
arrival to Britain but quickly joined a campaign for the rights of black
and Asian teachers.

Bhattacharya was elected councillor in Camden in the mid-1990s and soon
became mayor of the borough for a year.

His most recent campaign before filing this petition was over
Afghanistan. He wrote to Labour MP and former star Glenda Jacksonthat
while the loss of lives in New York on September 11 would be "grieved by
every civilised person", who in the "developed white world grieves for
the millions of innocent people killed in the last four centuries by
white colonialists ?"

He said most Labour Party MPs have "internalised an imperialist
superiority ethos" and they cannot see that a "neo-imperialist military
aggression" against other nations violates the UN charter.  The local
borough press has affectionately named him "Osama Bhattacharya".

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