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