Category Archives: Communalism

Fighting Communalism

08May/18

UN Human Rights Commission urged to act after 40,000 sign petition

8 May 2018
London

PRESS RELEASE: 40,000 international citizens call on UN to investigate human rights emergency and attacks on Religious Minorities and Dalits in India.

See the petition here.

Urging the UN to listen to the 40,000 signatories, South Asia Solidarity Group’s Campaigner Keval Bharadia says “UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Dr Fernand de Varennes must investigate the human rights violations which target religious minorities, specifically Muslims and Christians, and Dalits are occurring on a vast and horrific scale in India today”.

“There is a horrifying rise in the rapes, mutilation, acid attacks and other forms of violence, often followed by murder, of women and girls of all communities, but Dalit women and girls and those from religious minorities are being specifically targeted. Lynchings of Muslims and Dalits, and stripping, flogging and public humiliations have become widespread. Muslim or Dalit and so-called ‘lower-caste’ men in relationships with, or married to, Hindu or upper-caste women have been brutally attacked or murdered – in the name of protecting the purity of the women involved. Many areas, particularly in UP, but also elsewhere have seen attempts at ethnic cleansing with threats and attempts to displace long-established Muslim communities. The election of Yogi Adityanath as Chief Minister of UP, India’s most populous state, in March 2017 has clearly made the human rights situation far worse, further emboldening those perpetrating communal and caste violence in UP and spilling over to other states. Adityanath has a record of hate speech and has several criminal cases pending against him.”

Thousands of demonstrations across South Asia and elsewhere have condemned the attacks. This week, hundreds of people took to the streets in London, UK to protest Narendra Modi’s role in and inaction to the violence as he attends the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting there.

South Asia Solidarity Group has today sent the petition to Dr Fernand de Varennes and hopes he acts for the survivors, and the families and communities of the people who have died as a result of the violent communal attacks and initiate an investigation immediately. 

Email: southasiasolidaritygroup (at) gmail.com
Twitter: @SAsiaSolidarity
Facebook: @southasiasolidarity
Website: www.southasiasolidarity.org/

End

01Apr/18

Narendra Modi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting the UK in April for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) taking place from 16-20 April.

Protest his visit on Wednesday 18 April 2018, 12pm outside Downing Street.

Who is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and why are we protesting his visit? (click here for protest details)

  • Avowed fascist and admirer of Hitler

Narendra Modi is a lifelong cadre of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu supremacist paramilitary organisation modelled on the Nazi and Italian Fascist parties. It was founded in the 1920s in opposition to Indian independence. Its revered leader M.S. Golwalkar notoriously viewed Hitler’s treatment of the Jews as a model of ‘race pride’ which India should copy in its treatment of minority groups. The RSS is the core of a family of organisations which includes the BJP, currently India’s ruling party. Their fascistic ideology aggressively promotes attacks on Muslims and other religious minorities, Dalits, women and sexual minorities. The Left and other dissidents are demonized and targeted as ‘enemies of the nation’.

  • Overseeing genocidal attacks and mob lynchings against religious minorities

In 2002, as Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi presided over the genocidal attacks in which over 2,000 people from Gujarat’s Muslim minority community were systematically killed, and 200,000 displaced. Women and children were specifically targeted for horrific violence in the pogrom. There is clear evidence that the violence was orchestrated and sponsored by Modi’s state government

Since Modi became Prime Minister of India in 2014, he has facilitated an epidemic of mob lynching in which Muslims have been the main target. Whether the pretext has been claims of eating beef, cattle trading, so-called ‘love jihad’ or simply travelling while Muslim, these murders have been instigated and organized by the network of vigilante groups and paramilitaries linked to Modi’s BJP government and the RSS. Those who have been brutally murdered range from 15-year-old Junaid beaten to death in a train in UP, to Pehlu Khan lynched by cow vigilantes on a Rajasthan road. On December 6 2017, millions of people witnessed the horror of Afrazul Khan, a migrant worker from Bengal, being hacked to death and burnt alive in Rajasthan, with the carnage being sickeningly videoed and circulated online by the perpetrator and his 14-year-old nephew. There were celebrations of his crime and the protests against his arrest organized by the Hindu right wing organizations; chillingly the murder was clearly pre-planned to take place on the anniversary of the demolition by RSS footsoldiers of the historic 16th century Babri Masjid (mosque) in 1992.

Modi has also encouraged violent attacks on Christians which have involved brutal assaults on churches and pastors, with the authorities colluding in the persecution of people celebrating Christmas in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, where carol singers were first attacked by Hindu right-wing groups and then arrested by the police.

  • Promoting caste hierarchy and attacks on Dalits

The BJP/RSS has an avowedly caste supremacist ideology and Modi has presided over intensified attacks on Dalits, and brutal attempts to crush their ongoing resistance to caste oppression. In Uttar Pradesh where the rabidly communal and casteist hate preacher Yogi Adityanath was made Chief Minister in March 2017, we witnessed the burning of Dalit villages and the sexual assaults on Dalit women by upper caste mobs in Saharanpur. This was followed by the arrest of Chandrashekhar Azad (Raavan) the leader of the Bhim Army, a Dalit Human Rights Group. While Chandrashekhar Azad was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court on November 2, with the court observing that charges against him were “politically motivated” , the very next day the Uttar Pradesh government slapped the National Security Act (NSA) against him in an effort to silence him. Meanwhile in BJP-ruled Gujarat, Dalit rights activist and elected representative (MLA) Jignesh Mevani is facing public death threats from senior police officers.

In January 2018, Hindu right wing terror groups carried out attacks on thousands of Dalit families who had gathered at Bhima Koregaon village in Maharashtra to commemorate the 200th anniversary of a battle which is central to Dalit identity.. Instead of arresting the key organisers of this violence (one of whom is a close associate of Modi) the police have carried out a witch hunt of  Dalit youth and children.

  • Assassinating dissenters and silencing critical media

The Modi government is ruthlessly seeking to silence all those who dissent from its agenda of creeping fascism.  The cold-blooded assassination on 5 September 2017 of the courageous journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bangalore, who had fearlessly criticized and exposed the BJP and its associated groups, by Hindu right wing hit squads, brought thousands onto the streets in mourning and protest. This followed the earlier murders of rationalists Narendra Dabolkar, Govind Pansare, and MM Kalburgi by the same organizations. While the mainstream media have become loyal mouthpieces for the Modi government, whipping up hysteria against all those who criticize the government and labeling them ‘anti-national’, alternative critical media outlets like The Wire have been threatened with massive lawsuits when they expose the terror unleashed by the Modi regime and its endemic corruption.  Activists fighting communal (religion-based) violence like Teesta Setalvad have faced continuous persecution by the state.

  • Undermining the Judicial System

Modi and his associates have blatantly undermined the judicial system – as in the suspected murder of Justice Loya, the judge who dared to insist that Modi’s right- hand man Amit Shah appear in court in the Sohrabuddin murder case. Interference by the Modi-appointed Chief Justice in the investigation of Justice Loya’s death led four of the five senior-most Supreme Court judges to take the unprecedented step of holding a press conference to  warn of the ‘danger to democracy’ posed by the Modi government. Recently the testimony of Swami Aseemanand giving key evidence of the terrorist activities of the RSS including the 2007 bombing of the Mecca Mosque in Hyderabad, has been ‘lost’ by a lower court.  Meanwhile, BJP leaders have openly stated their intention to get rid of the Indian Constitution drafted by Ambedkar and its basic principles of liberty, equality and fraternity, replacing it with the caste supremacist and misogynist principles of the ancient Manusmriti!

  • Intensifying atrocities in Kashmir

In Kashmir, where the people have long been fighting for their right to self-determination in the face of acute state repression and military occupation, atrocities have further escalated. The BJP, now also sharing power in Srinagar, has shed all pretence of constitutional governance, treating Kashmiris as virtual prisoners of war, and even a tentative recognition of the humanity of Kashmiri youth by a government official  is treated as seditious. When a police officer, Deepak Khajuria, was arrested as the main accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl, Asifa Bano, part of a conspiracy to drive the Muslim Bakarwal community which Asifa belonged to from their homes, there were protests and violence by the BJP-backed Hindu Ekta Manch demanding his release.

  • Welcoming corporate plunder

Modi claims to be a ‘nationalist’ but only to silence his own people or threaten neighbouring countries. He is eager to welcome global corporates such as notorious mining conglomerates Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton to plunder India in the 21st century. Under Modi, multinational corporations including many registered in London such as Vedanta and Essar Energy are siphoning money and resources out of the country, grabbing huge swathes of land and forests and displacing the people who live there, (particularly targeting Adivasis or indigenous people) and destroying the environment. Laws protecting workers are being abolished and communities which resist are being terrorised not only by the police and paramilitaries but by state – and corporate – sponsored militias.

  • Friend of Trump and Netanyahu

Under Modi, India has moved closer to the US and Israel – which is providing weapons for intensified state terror in Kashmir – and aligned itself fully with the ‘War on Terror’. India is the world’s biggest importer of arms, buying a massive 13% of global arms imports and 41% of Israeli total weapon sales. Israeli weapons and ‘counter- terrorism’ training are being used to kill unarmed civilians, particularly in Kashmir, but also in India’s North Eastern states and on striking workers across the country. Like Israel, Modi’s India is also deeply involved in military collaboration with the US under Trump. Modi  has signed an agreement allowing the US to use India’s land, air and naval bases for supplies, services and refuelling. Modi is leading India into America’s war in Afghanistan and  escalating hostilities with China, whom Modi sees as India’s enemy. Indian Air Force fighters are scheduled to join Israel and five NATO Air Forces in the so-called Blue Flag joint air force exercises, the first time that the Indian military will be publicly holding such manoeuvres with their Israeli counterparts.

Who is Welcoming Modi to Britain?

The Hindu Right has a network of organizations in the UK, including the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS – the British wing of the RSS) the National Hindu Students Federation, Hindu Forum of Britain, and others. The HSS was investigated for hate speech and asked by the Charity Commissioner to keep away from the RSS, its parent body. Meanwhile Treasury minister Priti Patel has openly expressed her admiration for it and MPs like Conservative Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East, whose constituency has a substantial Hindu population, have shared platforms with RSS leaders at HSS events and hosted meetings for rabid Hindutva supporters like Tapan Ghosh at the House of Commons. With the rise of Hindutva in the UK, caste discrimination has increased in the Indian communities. Legislation outlawing caste discrimination was passed by the last Labour government but never implemented. The Hindu Right groups, MPs like Blackman and a few academics like Prakash Shah, (QMUL), have come together to lobby against this legislation. These groups have no concern for Indian migrants facing detentions and deportations and, like Modi himself, are happy to barter their human rights for trade deals for Indian corporates.

Please join us in protest here.

Sign the petition that will be handed in during CHOGM to the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues.

Modi is not welcome!

#ModiNotWelcome #Commonwealth18 #Narendramodi

#ModiNotWelcomeCoalition #ourCommonwealth

#BharatKiBaatSabkeSaath

10Aug/17

PRESS RELEASE: ‘Resist the Politics of Fear’: London March Against Mob Lynchings in India

PRESS RELEASE:

11th August 2017

‘Resist the Politics of Fear’: London March Against Mob Lynchings in India

On the evening of 15th August, India’s Independence Day, several hundred people will take part in a silent torchlit march in London in protest against the terrifying and apparently endless spate of mob lynchings of Muslims, Christians and Dalits which are transforming India into a ‘Republic of Fear’.  Emboldened by the victory of Narendra Modi’s BJP, Hindu supremacist gangs with links to the ruling party, or in some parts of India directly set up by the state, are the chief perpetrators of these abuses which are occurring unchecked and often with the collusion of the authorities.

The march, from the Gandhi statue in Tavistock Square to the Indian High Commission, is organised by South Asia Solidarity Group, CastewatchUK, SOAS India Society, Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance, Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK, Voice of Dalit International (VODI), and Together 4 Good. Spokespersons from these groups gave their reasons for initiating the march:

South Asia Solidarity Group: ‘We are extremely distressed and concerned that under Modi, India has become a country where Hindu supremacist gangs can lynch and rape freely and without any fear of punishment, where children, women and men are brutally killed for what they eat, who they love and simply for who they are. On this 70th anniversary of independence, India has become a Republic of Fear where justice, democracy and the basic right to life lie in tatters. It is crucial that we in the diaspora show our support for those in India who are courageously resisting this descent into fascism .’  

Caste Watch UK: ‘We have come together to condemn the barbaric and despicable acts of violence perpetrated on Dalits and other Minorities in India. While violence against Dalits has been going on from time immemorial, it has escalated enormously since the rise of Hindutva and the BJP. Under the veneer of ‘love-jihad’ and ‘Gau-raksha’ (cow protection) India is in danger of sliding towards a theocratic state which must be resisted at all costs.’

Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance: We demand justice for Dalits and Minorities and the immediate release from prison of Chandrashekhar [the Dalit leader from UP] and his colleagues.’

  • The protesters will assemble at 7pm at the Mahatma Gandhi statue at Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9EU to honour the victims of Mob lynching in India (Muslims, Christians and Dalits).
  • They will then march to a rally outside Indian High Commission under the banner  ‘Resist the Republic of Fear, March Against Mob-lynching in India’
  • They will carry placards with the faces of some of the many who have been lynched and murdered- 16 year old Junaid (lynched in Ballabhgarh, Haryana), 15 year old Swapnil Sonawane (lynched in Thane , Mumbai ), Zafar Hussein (lynched in Pratapgarh, Rajasthan), Maan Devi (lynched in Agra, UP), Laljibhai Sarvaiya (lynched in Ankolali, Gujarat), Pastor Sultan Masih (murdered in Ludhiana, Punjab), Pehlu Khan (lynched in Alwar, Rajasthan), Mohammad Akhlaque (lynched in Dadri, UP)
  • At the High Commission the marchers will deliver a letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that the BJP government put an end to violence against Muslims, Christians and Dalits and indict not only the perpetrators of these horrific crimes but those, including senior politicians of the BJP, who have instigated communal and anti-Dalit violence.

Other organisers commented as follows:

Together 4 Good: We call upon for Indian authorities to enforce the rule of law, including putting a complete stop to vigilante violence, protecting the right to life of all, and ensuring that the perpetrators these hate crimes are brought to justice without delay. 

Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations: The Indian Government must protect the lives, property and dignity of Dalits and minorities in India. For a healthy democracy, freedom of speech – a fundamental right enshrined in Dr Ambedkar’s Constitution  – must be maintained. ‘

Voice of Dalits International Rampant inequality, discrimination and atrocities on the basis of caste, religion and gender have become general features in India. Living in constant fear of being lynched at any time for any fictitious reasons, including for eating nutritious food, in a country where 42 % children are underweight – is a contradiction when India claims to be the world’s largest democracy with 70 years of independent history and a strong economy.

Immediately following the march South Asia Solidarity Group will also submit a petition with nearly 38,000 signatures calling on the UN Special Rapporteur for Minorities Rita Izsák-Ndiaye, to investigate the growing human rights emergency in India, particularly the attacks on religious minorities and Dalits.

For further information: southasiasolidaritygroup (at) gmail.com @SAsiaSolidarity

09Aug/17

March Against Mob Lynching in India – 15 August 7pm

On the 70th anniversary of India’s Independence, we must not remain silent and allow the forces of the Hindu far-right to transform India into a Republic of Fear. Join us in a torchlit march in solidarity with the victims and survivors of the ongoing epidemic of mob lynching of Muslims, Christians and Dalits in India. We will march from the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Tavistock Square to the Indian High Commission.

On India’s Independence Day we will remember 15-year-old Junaid (murdered in Ballabhgarh, Haryana), Asghar Ali (Ramgarh, Jharkhand), Otera Bibi (Murshidabad, West Bengal), Zafar Hussein (Pratapgarh, Rajasthan), Dalit families of Shabbirpur village (Saharanpur, UP), Pastor Sultan Masih (Ludhiana, Punjab), Pehlu Khan (Alwar, Rajasthan), the Sarvaiya family (Una, Gujarat), Rama Singrahiya (Sodhana, Gujarat) Mohammad Akhlaque (Dadri, UP), and the many others who have been brutally assaulted or murdered at the hands of lynch mobs. We will pledge in their names to stand together against this violence and the Hindu supremacist Brahmanical ideology which is fuelling it, and to hold the Modi government to account for the horrific crimes committed against them.

Mob lynchings of people belonging to religious minorities, specifically Muslims and Christians, and Dalits are occurring on a horrific scale in India today. Violence against Muslim and Christian communities has been increasing since the early 1990s, and upper caste atrocities on Dalits are a longstanding phenomenon. But there has been a massive escalation in both since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power at the Centre in 2014. Hindu supremacist gangs closely linked to the ruling party, or in some parts of India directly set up by the state, are the chief perpetrators.

But resistance is also growing, as shown by the protests led by women in Jharkhand after Asghar Ali’s murder, and the massive #NotInMyName demonstrations against mob lynching taking place in cities across India as well as internationally.

On the 70th anniversary of India’s Independence, join us and march in solidarity with this resistance to Hindu far-right terror.

More details on facebook here: Follow us on Twitter here at @SAsiaSolidarity.

Supporting organisations: South Asia Solidarity Group; Castewatch UK; SOAS India Society; Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance; Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK; Voice of Dalit International (VODI); Together 4 Good

24Jul/17

15 August 2017 – Call to March Against Mob Lynching in India

Resist the Republic of Fear: March Against Mob Lynching in India

15 August 2017 – Meet Tavistock Square at 19:00 to march to Indian High Commission

On the 70th anniversary of India's Independence, we must not remain silent and allow the forces of the Hindu right to transform India into a Republic of Fear. 

Join us in a torchlit march in solidarity with the victims and survivors of the ongoing epidemic of mob lynching of Muslims, Christians and Dalits in India. 

We will be marching from the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Tavistock Square to the Indian High Commission. 
 

Click here to see Facebook Event


On India’s Independence Day we will remember 15-year-old Junaid (murdered in Ballabhgarh, UP), Asghar Ali (Ramgarh, Jharkhand), Otera Bibi (Murshidabad, West Bengal), Zafar Hussein (Pratapgarh, Rajasthan), Dalit families of Shabbirpur village (Saharanpur, UP), Pehlu Khan (Alwar, Rajasthan), the Sarvaiya family (Una, Gujarat), Rama Singrahiya (Sodhana, Gujarat) Mohammad Akhlaque (Dadri, UP), and the many others who have been brutally assaulted or murdered at the hands of lynch mobs, and we will pledge in their names to stand together against this violence and the Hindu supremacist Brahmanical ideology which is fuelling it.

Human rights violations which target religious minorities, specifically Muslims and Christians, and Dalits are occurring on a vast and horrific scale in India today. While violence against Muslim and Christian communities have been increasing since the early 1990s, and upper caste atrocities on Dalits are a longstanding phenomenon, there has been a massive escalation in both since Narendra Modi ‘s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power at the Centre in 2014. Emboldened by the victory of the BJP, Hindu supremacist gangs with links to the ruling party, or in some parts of India directly set up by the state, are the chief perpetrators of these abuses which are occuring unchecked.

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