By M.Ghazali Khan
London : At Vigil outside the Indian High Commission, in London progressive South Asians and their allies, vowed to stand with all India’s minorities and marginalised communities and individuals facing persecution, to honour the memory of all those who have lost their lives at the hands of fascist, caste supremacist Hindutva forces in India and to continue to support and amplify the voices of those who are building anti-fascist unity and solidarity in India.
Wearing Modi and Amit Shah masks, their hands red with symbolic blood. They indicted them as responsible for the ‘the epidemic of organised mob lynchings and heightened attacks on Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis, relentless assault on democratic institutions and their credibility, and the systematic persecution and even murder of dissenters’ .
They vowed to continuously challenge Modi’s narrative of the Indian diaspora in the UK as a unified source of moral and material support for his fascist agenda, because ‘this is not in our name’.
A spokesperson from South Asia Solidarity Group said ‘The sweeping victory of the BJP-led NDA and the ways in which this victory has been achieved, are deeply disturbing for the future of Indian democracy. In the 2014 polls Narendra Modi promised ‘development for all’, this time his campaign revolved shamelessly on hate speech, Islamophobia and warmongering. He fielded Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused in Hindutva terrorist attacks, and built her image as a new BJP icon. This is fascism and it must be fought! This Vigil is the first step in building a global campaign to challenge the Hindu-supremacist regime. We stand with the struggles of farmers, students, youth, Dalits and Adivasis and the courageous and determined voices of protest raised by democratic citizens who have been the primary opposition to the Modi government in the last five years. This resistance is continuing stronger than ever.
Other speakers, many of them anti-racist activists in Britain pointed out that the elections had been held in an environment deeply vitiated over the past five years and that freedom of the press has been severely curtailed as much of the mainstream media was reduced to propaganda machinery for the Modi regime and the relentless BJP/RSS campaign of hate and lies. The independence of the judiciary has been seriously compromised, and the lifting of restrictions on anonymous funding and foreign funding for political parties has led to corporate funding for the BJP, on a previously unheard of scale.
The Election Commission acted like a pawn of the BJP, refusing to intervene in the multiple cases of vicious hate speech by BJP leaders and gross irregularities in the conduct of the election.
Those taking part in the vigil held placards some of them saying
“AMIT SHAH, MODI’S MINISTER OF HATE – THE WORLD SEES YOUR CRIMES!’
“DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION! RESIST MODI 2.0’s HINDU FASCISM!”
They called out the attacks on Rights activists, lawyers and journalists and condemned the blatant projection of many of the features of a Hindu state with the horrific heightening of Hindutva violence with attacks on Muslims and Dalits all over the country.
Demonstrators held placards with the faces of those murdered by regime’s Hindutva forces – these included Dr Payal Tadavi an Adavasi Muslim doctor who was driven to her death by casteist senior doctors Mumbai’s TN Topivala National Medical College and Ashok a young Dalit left activist hacked to death by Hindutva activists in Tamil Nadu.
They specifically mentioned the targeting of journalists who are suspected of making the slightest criticism of the regime or of BJP leaders. While this has been going on for a considerable period, with Kashmiri journalist Aasif Sultan, a Kashmiri journalist still in prison ten months after writing an article about slain militant Burhan Wani with India dropping, in the last three years by seven places to rank 140 on the Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index things have got worse since the election. Criminal defamation charges are being used indiscriminately, Prashant Kanojia an independent journalist, was arrested without an arrest warrant and accused of defamation for sharing a video of a woman who claimed to be in love with Yogi Adityanath, the viciously Hindu supremacist Chief Minister of UP. Kanojia was one of four journalists arrested between June 6 and June 8. Two of them — Ishita Singh, head of the news channel Nation Live, and one of the channel’s editors, Anuj Shukla — were arrested for airing footage of the same woman. There has also been blatant violence and intimidation to punish and try to silence the press. Most recently, Amit Sharma, a stringer for TV channel News24, was beaten up and urinated upon for simply doing his job as a journalist.
Speakers also drew attention to the fact that while earlier cases of violence against and incarceration of lawyers and human rights defenders are still being fought and being joined now by new incidents of threats, raids and intimidation of civil liberties activists. In Kashmir, meanwhile, repression continues, and most recently the authorities have stopped Amnesty International from holding an event to release its report on human rights violations under a law which allows administrative detentions for up to 2 years.
They condemned the National Register of Citizenship which has been used to exclude some 4 million people in Assam from citizenship is now to be imposed in other parts of the country starting with parts of West Bengal. It will see the detention in concentration camps and disenfranchisement of minorities, particularly Muslims, on a massive scale.
The vigil was organised by South Asia Solidarity Group, supported by SOAS India Society, London Mining Network, Citizens Against Hate
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