New York : 28th Sep, As India and Pakistan addressed the world this morning from the podium at the United Nations General Assembly, thousands of Indian Americans, Kashmiris, and US rights groups protested against Narendra Modi over his government’s clampdown on Kashmir outside the UN headquarters in New York.
The Coalition Against Fascism in India (CAFI), who organised the protest, said in a press release that Modi is “orchestrating a pogrom of hate and violence against Muslims and Dalits in India,” and is “disenfranchising over seven million Kashmiris”. The Modi government had “rendered nearly two million people stateless in Assam and is building detention centres to imprison them,” they said referring to the NRC exercise.
The protest was attended by many leading activists and academics including prominent historian and academic professor Audrey Truschke and Sunita Vishwanath, co-founder of Hindus for Human Rights.
Calling Hindutva “a bigoted political ideology with many victims”, Truschke said she opposes the government because of the fact that India’s religious minorities had faced increasing disenfranchisement and violence under Modi’s tenure. The government had condemned the media, institutions and anyone who questioned his actions, his power and his ideology. She said that Hindutva supporters openly admire Hitler and they supported the treatment meted out to Jews by Hitler in Germany.
“The Modi government has been clear in its message that criticising, or even merely accurately describing, Hindutva comes with increasing risks, which makes the scale and diversity of the current protests all the more astonishing. I urge global leaders to listen, not only to Modi but to those he has not yet managed to silence,” Truschke said.
The national general secretary of the Indian American Muslim Council, Mohammad Jawad, said that the Modi government followed the RSS’s Hindutva ideology which was responsible for all atrocities and lynchings against minorities. “We are not anti-India or anti-Hindu. We are only demanding basic human rights that the Constitution of India guarantees for all citizens,” he said.
Sunita Viswanath, co-founder of Hindus for Human Rights, said that the government was destroying Indian democracy in the name of Hinduism. “As Hindus, as Indians, and as people of conscience, we say ‘Not In Our Name’,” Viswanath said.
Hawk Newsome, chairman of Black Lives Matter Greater New York, said, “We stand united against governments that exploit the most vulnerable.”
James Sues, executive director at the Council on America-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in New Jersey, said that the Modi government had “illegally stripped” the people of Kashmir of their autonomy. “We call on world leaders of conscience to reject the fascist agenda of Mr Modi and the BJP and stand with the marginalised minorities of India,” Sues said.
CAFI has demanded that the Modi government restore Article 370, end Kashmir’s “military occupation” and respect Kashmiris’ right to decide their own future. It has also demanded the repeal of the Public Safety Act and the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, the termination of the National Register of Citizens and an end to the lynchings of Dalits, Muslims and Adivasis.
The organisation also called for the freeing of political prisoners like Professor G.N. Saibaba and those in the Bhima Koregaon case and has demanded the withdrawal of “false cases” against anti-caste activists such as Anand Teltumbde.
The protest was co-sponsored by the Alliance for a Democratic and Secular South Asia, Hindus for Human Rights, India Civil Watch and Indian American Muslim Council. The protest has also been endorsed by several organisations and groups including Black Lives Matter (Greater New Y0rk), Democracy, Equality and Secularism in South Asia (DESSA), Winnipeg; India Civil Watch (ICW-Canada) and the Jewish Voice for Peace NYC.
The day before, members of the Sikh and Patidar community had demonstrated outside the UN headquarters in New York when Modi was delivering a speech on Sustainable Development at a special UN summit. The protesters, under the banner of Sikhs for Justice, alleged human rights violations in Punjab and demanded a referendum in 2020 for a separate Khalistan.