Indian diaspora groups hold ‘vigil for democracy’


Speakers shared their concern over the way the election is being conducted and the alleged corruption at every stage…reports Asian Lite News

Vigil for democracy in India” brought diaspora organisations together in London’s Parliament Square last week.

Campaigners from 15 groups condemned hate speech against Muslims by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government’s decade-long “subversion of the Indian constitution.”

Referring to India’s ongoing general election, South Asia Solidarity Group spokesman Mukti Shah said “This election campaign is marked by an increasingly desperate campaign, with Modi’s election speeches filled with explicit Islamophobic hatred, lies and incitement to genocide.

“It’s a campaign which is made possible by massive funding by transnational corporations like Adani, whose drones manufactured with Elbit are used against Palestinians in Gaza and Adivasis in central India. In the last decade, India has slipped down the Global Hunger Index and now has the highest rate of childhood stunting in the world. Protesting farmers, unemployed youth demanding jobs and women speaking out on sexual violence have all faced violent repression. Indian Muslims’ homes are bulldozed and their citizenship denied under new laws. This vigil sends a powerful message that the Indian diaspora rejects fascism and is willing to speak out for justice and democracy,” a release said.

Speakers shared their concern over the way the election is being conducted and the alleged corruption at every stage, with the BJP amassing vast quantities of money. Kalpana Wilson from South Asia Solidarity Group noted that the same corporates, the Adani group, for example, have the support of the Indian state and security forces in their persecution of Adivasi communities who are being displaced from their ancestral land to make way for environmentally destructive coal mines and refineries. Many who have resisted have been incarcerated.

“Why is Modi no longer talking about development or about being Vishwaguru of the world?” she said, “Why is he reverting to the core hate and Islamophobia that defines his party? The reason is that the BJP is afraid that people can see through them and are rejecting them in state after state.”

As for his proclaimed concern for oppressed castes, “people won’t forget that the BJP has committed atrocities, from the BJP-backed Ranvir Sena massacres in Bihar in the ’90s to the epidemic of rapes in Adityanath’s UP today.”

There was anger over the free pass and even felicitation being given to rapists “as long as they are oppressor caste Hindu men”. Speakers highlighted the most recent promotion of a parliamentary candidate, Prajwal Revanna, known to be a serial offender who has videoed thousands of his crimes. Revanna has now been allowed to flee to Germany on a diplomatic passport.

The vigil was organised on the first anniversary of the Manipur violence and speakers from the Christian Kuki-Zo community shared the ordeals their families faced and continue to face after one year.

In a powerful and heartbreaking testimony, Lun, a member of Unau Welfare UK, related the experiences of her family and what they faced when the violence broke out in Imphal on May 3, 2023.

“My family were seeking shelter and were on their way to a CRPF camp when a violent mob of over 200 men blocked their path and pulled them out of their car. They paraded them and subjected them to insults and questions about their identity and ethnicity before the mob separated them. My cousin was chased and circled, and subjected to brutal assault with rods, stones, and bricks. My aunt, his mum, positioned herself between the attackers and him while the mob cheered and carried on until both of them were brutally hacked to death in broad daylight. Nancy, my sister in-law was paraded in a different place where the womenfolk shouted to others to rape her,” Lun said.

The vigil was attended in solidarity by Andrew Feinstein, former ANC MP who served under Nelson Mandela, and is an investigative author and filmmaker specialising in the arms trade. Feinstein, who is the son of a Holocaust survivor, has recently declared that he is standing against Keir Starmer in UK’s forthcoming general election. He told the vigil that “the Prime Minister Modi is one of the world’s most extreme ethno-nationalists – cheerleader for and provider of arms to the Israeli state, even as it slaughters tens of thousands in Gaza. Apartheid Israel’s embrace of Modi is particularly repugnant as his Hindu nationalist philosophy has its roots in the RSS, an avowedly Nazi, anti-Semitic movement.”

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