Diaspora groups unite in London protest against India’s “impending genocide”

At 1.00pm on Sunday 3rd July, more than 16 key Indian diaspora organisations from across the UK will hold a mass rally in front of 10 Downing Street, London SW1, followed by a march to the Indian High Commission, London, WC2B 4NA.

They will be joined by Claudia Webbe MP, Sonali Bhattacharyya, National Secretary of Momentum and a host of other UK-based organisations. They will be calling for an end to the Hindu-supremacist violence and fascist policies of Narendra Modi’s BJP government including:

* The state-sponsored murder, rape and lynchings of Muslims and bulldozing of Muslim homes such as that of Afreen Fatima.

* The restrictions of religious and gender rights through hijab-bans, persecution of interfaith relationships, and legal impunity for Islamophobic and anti-minority hate speech

* The criminalisation of internationally renowned human rights activists, like Teesta Setalvad on spurious charges,  and of highly respected journalists like Mohammed Zubair, and hundreds of others.

* The terrifying persecution of Christians, Sikhs, Dalits and Adivasis through murder, rape, lynching and mob violence,  demolitions of religious buildings, and deployment of legal institutions to legitimate such violence.

* The ethnic cleansing of Indian Muslims through the enactment of laws comparable to the Nazi Nuremberg laws, such as the exclusionary and Islamophobic Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens which strips undocumented Indian Muslims of their citizenship and incarcerates them in detention centres.

* The weaponisation of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) to arrest and disappear student leaders and activists on charges of anti-nationalism, sedition and terrorism, including Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Usmaani, Gulfisha Fatima and many others; and the framing of human rights activists, lawyers and scholars in the ongoing Bhima Koregaon case.  

* The rape and murder of Dalit children and women by upper-caste Hindus with the complicity of the police and the judiciary.

* The lynching of Adivasis by Hindutva mobs, their rape by security forces, and the incarceration of thousands of Adivasi youth for resisting the corporate takeover of their ancestral land for mining.

* The increased onslaught of military violence in Kashmir and the brutalisation of Kashmiris through the Armed Forces Special Protections Act(AFSPA), internet bans and curfews, restrictions of press freedom, and the persecution, intimidation, detention and enforced disappearances of Kashmiri youth, activists and journalists such as Khurram Parvez, Fahad Shah, Shahid Tantray, Aasif Sultan and others.

Claudia Webbe, MP for Leicester East, is among those who will address the Downing Street rally. She said: “Like many of my constituents, I am very concerned by the persecution of religious minorities in India. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits and Adivasis are facing unacceptable and accelerating discrimination and violence. I am especially concerned by the increase in the state-mandated demolition of Muslim homes and properties, such as that of Afreen Fatima, as well as the rise of gendered and racialised violence towards India’s minorities. 

“Given Britain’s imperial past of divide and rule policies in  India, the UK government has a historical moral responsibility for what  religious minorities in India are facing today. We must all continue to stand in full solidarity with all religious minorities in India, and around the globe.”

Mukti Shah, South Asia Solidarity Group, added: “While Boris Johnson makes deals with Modi and poses with the bulldozers used to destroy Muslim homes, Modi’s corporate friends like Adani and Ambani are plundering the country supported by British banks just as the East India Company did.  Meanwhile, the network of Hindu supremacist organisations which link up with other far right groups worldwide are raising funds in the UK to fund ultra-violent militias in India.

“We are holding this demonstration in London to show that these organisations do not speak for us in the diaspora, and to demand that the British government stops enabling Modi’s genocidal regime.”

Mohammed Sageer of Strive UK said: ‘With globally renowned experts predicting an impending genocide of Muslims in India, it is up to us in civil society to stand in total solidarity with all those facing state-sponsored violence and persecution – Muslims, Christians and other minorities. The ideology of Hindutva has now sadly divided India and othered its vulnerable communities. We must unite to stop it from tearing the country apart.’

Zlakha Ahmed of Apna Haq, an organisation of Black and minoritized women, agreed. “We can never forget the Gujarat Genocide of 2002 in which women were raped and killed and their bodies mutilated by Hindutva fascist gangs. Narendra Modi was then the Chief Minister of Gujarat. We know how the  BJP leaders are calling for the rape of Muslim women and defending rapists. We will never stop standing with Afreen Fatima, Hidme Markam, Teesta Setalvad and all the other women fighting Hindutva’s fascist, misogynistic forces.”

National Secretary of Momentum, Sonali Bhattacharyya added: “The far right are on the march in the UK, in America, in France, in India, and their ideas are increasingly forming government policy. Islamophobia has been central to this fomentation and it’s vital we resist this, especially those of us in the south Asian diaspora. I’m supporting Sunday’s demonstration because I stand with my Muslim brothers and sisters resisting Hindutva. This is part of an international struggle against fascism.”

Lotika Singha of theInternational Solidarity for Academic Freedom in India, condemned “the increasing numbers of unlawful arrests and detentions of dissenting citizens in India. They include the prominent scholar, Dr Anand Teltumbde who is being held in the notorious Taloja prison and well-known scholar, writer and human rights activist Professor G.N. Saibaba who is wheelchair-bound and seriously ill but is being held in solitary confinement under terrible conditions. Others are from Dalit and Adivasi communities, in prison for resisting the annexation of their land, resources and means of livelihood by corporates who have the support of the Modi government.”

Mohammed Khan of Scottish Indians for Justice added: “Our love and concern for India has driven us to join the 3rd July London protest! The ruling party in India is promoting militant Hindutva forces that seek to destroy India’s culture of tolerance and acceptance of many faiths and beliefs. We call upon democratic forces internationally to recognize that Indian Muslims are facing ‘Bulldozer Genocide’ and demand that the British government in its trade agreements stipulates that the Indian government respects the human rights of all its people.”

The following groups are organising the protest: Strive UK; South Asia Solidarity Group; Scottish Indians for Justice; Indian Muslim Federation; International Council of Indian Muslims; International Solidarity for Academic Freedom; SOAS India Society; East Midlands Malayali Muslim Association; Apna Haq; Women Against Caste; The London Story; The Peace Institute; Million Women Rise; Oxford South Asian Society; IMWS Al-Hikmah Centre; South Asian Alternative Forum; Freedom Without Fear Platform.

Image: Party flags of Bharatiya Janta Party and Shiv Sena. Source: BJP and Shiv Sena flags. Author: Al Jazeera English, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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