Category Archives: Fighting Communalism

Fighting Communalism

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

28Jan/16

Justice for Rohith Vemula – Killed by Institutional Brahmanical Casteism! Candelight Vigil in London

M Ghazali Khan

LONDON — Representatives of rights groups, Indian diaspora and Dalit organizations marked India’s Republic Day eve by holding a candlelit vigil outside the Indian High Commission in London.

A press release issued by the South Asia Solidarity Group described the vigil as a display of solidarity with the hunger-striking students of the University of Hyderabad and other places across India against the “institutional murder of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula by university authorities and Indian cabinet ministers.”

Holding banners, portraits of Rohith Vemula and Dr Ambedkar and candles in their hands and raising placards Continue reading

04Dec/13

Labour Friends of Hindu Fascism

Labour Friends of Hindu Fascism

by Amrit Wilson

In 2001, Labour MP for Brent North Barry Gardiner, visited Gujarat and describing himself as the Chair of Labour Friends of India(LFI) presented Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Chief Minister Narendra Modi with a cheque for one million pounds. Till then  few people in India or Britain, had heard of LFI. The money raised by  Sewa International, a charity based in Britain, ostensibly for the victims of the Gujarat earthquake of 2001 and the Orissa cyclone of 1999 was to find its way to front organisations for the storm troopers of Hindu supremacy, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – groups  who a year later were exposed as perpetrators of the genocidal attacks on Muslims in Gujarat in which more than 2000 men, women and children were killed and 200,000

Confronting Barry Gardiner

Confronting Barry Gardiner

displaced. Sewa International itself was also exposed as inextricably bound up with the Sangh Parivar – the so-called family of organisations of the Hindu right which include both the BJP, the RSS. (1)

But Gardiner was not to be deterred either by these revelations or the fact that Narendra Modi was an avowed admirer of Hitler. He himself has after all cosied up to right-wing forces internationally for some time, visiting Israel in 1999, for example, to meet senior Israeli leaders on behalf of Labour Friends of Israel, an organisation of which he was Vice Chair, and later, in  2009,  sacking his campaigns manager for demonstrating support for the Palestinians massacred by Israel during the Gaza slaughter. (2)Labour Friends of India continued to be Gardiner’s personal project, without even its own bank account and in the words of historian of India and Labour activist Jon Wilson, ‘not apparently publically open to new members or run on the same democratic lines as other associations within the Labour movement’. (3)

When it became widely known that the pogrom in Gujarat was sponsored by the Gujarat government and presided over by Modi  –  a leaked report from the British High Commission,  for example,  noting that the attacks  ‘had all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing and that reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims is impossible while the chief minister [Narendra Modi] remains in power’ and that ‘far from being spontaneous’ it was ‘planned, possibly months in advance, carried out by an extremist Hindu organisation with the support of the state government’ (4)  –  Modi had his visa to the US withdrawn for violations of human rights and the UK government and the EU also distanced themselves from him. But neither Gardiner nor the LFI changed their position in any way and Hindu right-wing groups in the UK invited Modi in 2005 and again in 2009. Both times Modi panicked at the last moment in the face of planned protests by South Asian and human rights organisations, and also the possibility of an arrest in Britain over the on-going case of three members of the Dawood family from Batley who had  been killed in the 2002 Gujarat massacres.

Over the last decade, the lobbyists, APCO in the US and Saffron Chase in the UK have been working to get acceptance for Modi abroad and transform his image. The founders of the latter are Manoj Ladwa and Vikas Pota who just happen to be members of both the LFI and the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) (5), the British wing of the RSS. Modi’s new avatar is a man of progress and development who has transformed Gujarat into the  ultimate success story in terms of prosperity. In reality, his policies, which have converted swathes of land and coastline into Special Economic Zones or ‘Special Investment Regions’, have increased  inequalities (with malnutrition among children comparable to that in the poorest states in India) and Gujarat has recently been categorised as one of the ‘less developed’ states in India far behind Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Goa. (6)

However, for the Con-Dem government, the entry of British corporates is what matters so while Modi makes a bid to become India’s next Prime Minister, campaigning in the same virulent communal rhetoric as before, and claiming, falsely (7), that he has been exonerated by the Supreme Court of India, the British government has begun to rehabilitate him because as Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hugo Swire said this was in ‘the UK’s national interests’.  meaning the interests of British big business (8).

Beyond these ‘national interests’,  Barry Gardner has another more personal reason for fostering the relationship with Modi. The UK has some 700,000 Hindu Gujaratis (including a sizeable number in his ModiPhoto1constituency).  With Pota and Ladwa lobbying them that Modi is the man to lead India it is not surprising that Gardiner is proclaiming that he and Modi are the closest of friends. In the run up to the 2010 UK election, Gardiner’s website even carried  Modi’s testimonial –  ‘Gujarat has no greater friend in Britain than Barry Gardiner’ . Clearly the LFI’s recent invitation to Modi to speak at a meeting in Parliament about the Future of Modern India was simply Barry Bhai returning the favour. As it happened the invitation backfired and in the face of angry protests coordinated by South Asia Solidarity Group and supported by a host of South Asian, human rights and trade union organisations, and of course  Modi’s continuing fear that he may face  arrest on entering the UK, he backed out claiming  he was just too busy to come.

(1)http://www.sacw.net/DC/CommunalismCollection/ArticlesArchive/British_charity_and_Hindu_extremism_a_report_summary.pdf

(2) http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/pro-israel-mp-fires-pro-palestinian-staffer

(3) http://labourlist.org/2013/08/if-we-stand-for-the-politics-of-one-nation-we-cannot-support-narendra-modi-an-open-letter-to-iain-mcnicol/

(4)  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/1951471.stm

(5) http://www.truthofgujarat.com/uk-based-hindutva-lobbyists-manoj-ladwa-vikas-pota-driving-force-behind-modis-uk-invitation/

(6)http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/raghuram-rajan-committee-report-demolishes-modis-claims-of-development-in-gujarat/1/311856.html

(7)  Sahmat – Citizens for Justice and Peace: ‘Press Release- Supreme Court clean chit to Narendra Modi ?’  http://www.kractivist.org/press-release-supreme-court-clean-chit-to-narendra-modi/ which explains in detail how the Supreme Court has NOT in fact absolved Modi of responsibility for the 2002 genocide.

(8) See The Hindu ‘Embracing the Darkness’ October 23, 2012, http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/embracing-the-darkness/article4023194.ece

This article first appeared in the December 2013/January 2014 issue of Red Pepper

22Aug/13

Stop mass murderer Narendra Modi

Stop mass murderer Narendra Modi

from visiting the UK!

Barry Gardiner: Withdraw your invitation to the ‘butcher of Gujarat’!

Protest:­­­  Monday 9 September 2013, 11:30 AM – 1 PM, at Barry Gardiner’s MP’s surgery, Brent Civic Centre, Engineers Way, Wembley HA9 0FJ

Nearest Tube Station: Wembley Park (see map http://www.brent.gov.uk/your-council/brent-civic-centre/your-visit-to-the-civic-centre/)

 

  • Narendra Modi is the Chief Minister of Gujarat, the Prime Ministerial candidate of the Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and an avowed admirer of Hitler and his policies.
  • In 2002, Modi presided over the genocidal attacks in which over 2,000 men, women and children from Gujarat’s Muslim minority community were systematically killed.
  • This is the man whom Labour MP for Brent North Barry Gardiner has invited to come and address the House of Commons on the subject of ‘The Future of Modern India’.

What happened in Gujarat in 2002 has been amply documented and there is clear evidence (1)(2)(3) that the violence was orchestrated and sponsored by the state. The police had been instructed not to intervene while Hindu supremacist mobs linked to the BJP murdered and raped, selectively  targeting the addresses occupied by Muslim families . According to a leaked report by the British High Commission in India the violence ‘had all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing and that reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims is impossible while the chief minister [Narendra Modi] remains in power’ and that ‘far from being spontaneous’ it was ‘planned, possibly months in advance, carried out by an extremist Hindu organisation with the support of the state government.'(4)

Modi is currently making a bid to become India’s next Prime Minister and has launched a campaign using openly fascistic and anti-minority rhetoric. At the same time he is claiming that he has been absolved of wrong doing in connection with the massacres of 2002 by the Supreme Court of India. This is untrue, see for example (6).

While in the wake of the 2002 genocide and the clear evidence and documentation of  Modi’s role in coordinating and sponsoring it, the UK, EU and US were compelled to distance themselves from Modi, more recently the British government is  rehabilitating him. At a recent meeting with Modi in Ahmedabad,  the Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hugo Swire made it clear that this was in ‘the UK’s national interests’, meaning the interests of British big business (7) (8).

Modi claims to have brought ‘development’ to Gujarat – but the reality is that nutritional  poverty is higher than all-India levels (9)and there is a huge and growing gap between rich and poor in the state. The people of Gujarat are paying the price for Modi’s policies (10), in which swathes of land and coastline have been converted into Special Economic Zones or ‘Special Investment Regions’ and handed over to corporates heavily subsidised by the state. Recent official figures show 44.6% of children under 5 are malnourished in Gujarat – figures comparable only to the poorest states in India(11)

Now Barry Gardiner on behalf of the ‘Labour Friends of India’ has invited Modi to come and address the House of Commons on the subject of ‘The Future of Modern India’. The Conservative Friends of India have supported this invitation. This is purely an attempt to help British corporates sell their products and services in Gujarat in the interests of larger profits.  It makes a mockery of human rights  and ignores the three British citizens who were murdered  during the genocide and whose families are yet to receive justice.

Modi’s past visits to the UK have been used to raise extensive funds and support for communal violence. A visit at this time is particularly dangerous and must be stopped.

We condemn this collusion in Modi’s attempts to deny his role as a mass murderer.

We demand that the invitation to Modi is withdrawn.

Notes

(1) See Human Rights Watch: ‘ “We Have No Orders To Save You”

State Participation and Complicity in Communal Violence in Gujarat’,  April 30, 2002

http://www.hrw.org/reports/2002/04/30/we-have-no-orders-save-you

(2) Amnesty International: ‘India: Justice — the victim in Gujarat’ [Full Report] 27 January 2005 http://www.coalitionagainstgenocide.org/reports/2005/ai.27jan2005.gujarat.pdf(3)‘Threatened Existence: A Feminist Analysis of the Genocide in Gujarat’ Report by the International Initiative for Justice (IIJ) December 2003 http://www.gujaratfiles.net/files/iij.dec2003.report.pdf(4)bbc.co.uk: UK report censures Gujarat rulers (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/1951471.stm

(5)Amnesty International: ‘A decade on from the Gujarat riots, an overwhelming majority of victims await justice in India’ 29 February 2012

http://www.coalitionagainstgenocide.org/reports/2012/Amnesty-International-A-decade-on-from-the-Gujarat%20riots.pdf

(6) Sahmat – Citizens for Justice and Peace: ‘Press Release- Supreme Court clean chit to Narendra Modi ?’  http://www.kractivist.org/press-release-supreme-court-clean-chit-to-narendra-modi/ which explains in detail how the Supreme Court has NOT in fact absolved Modi of responsibility for the 2002 genocide as he has falsely claimed.

(7) See The Hindu ‘Embracing the Darkness’ October 23, 2012, http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/embracing-the-darkness/article4023194.ece

(8) bbc.co.uk: UK India envoy to visit Gujarat for first time since riots http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-19907453

(9)Agrarian Poverty, Nutrition and Economic Class – A Study of Gujarat, India, Anita Dixit, Journal of Agrarian Change,

Volume 13, Issue 2, pages 263–281, April 2013 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1471-0366.2012.00379.x/abstract

(10)Atul Sood ‘Poverty amidst prosperity’ The Hindu, November 30, 2012

 http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/poverty-amid-prosperity/article4147478.ece

(11)‘Narendra Modi’s Gujarat has 44% malnourished children’

 http://www.kractivist.org/india-narendra-modis-gujarat-has-44-malnourished-children/

Organised by South Asia Solidarity Group. Supported by: Council of Indian Muslims, Brent Trades Council, Foil Vedanta, Islamic Human Rights Commission, Southall Black Sisters, Indian Workers Association (Birmingham), South Asian Alliance, Asian Rationalist Society, Brent Trades Council , Freedom Without Fear Platform