Modi’s Visit

A large protest in Parliament Square included Kashmiris and Indians from many sections of the community including Tamils, Sikhs, Ravidass, Dalits, Muslims who say Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is pursuing policies dictated by the ultra-right Hindu supremacist RSS.

They say Modi encourages mob violence against Muslims and Christians, protects rapists and promotes caste hierarchy and the persecution of Dalits, and attacks on both the free press and the judicial system. Modi’s policies inflame Hindus to take illegal actions and the police and army ignore them. Modi also promotes the corporate plunder of Indian resources by global mining companies such as Vedanta. Kashmiris call for an end to the military occupation of Kashmir by India, and and for an end to the atrocities committed by the Indians there.

Many well-off Hindus welcome Modi’s Hindu nationalism and the benefits it brings them and their friends in India and dismiss many of the stories of atrocities or blame them on others. One was a group of Hindu women, many looking rather too well-fed, who came holding placards with a picture of Modi on one side and the logo of his ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ initiative (Save girl child, educate a girl child) on the other side.

Most of the richer Indians living in the UK are Hindu, and many are supporters and donors of the Tory party. Their representations to the government here have prevented caste discrimination being made an offence in the UK. Although outlawed by the Indian constituion, it is still rife in India, and those from the lower castes, such as the Dalits, feel that the Modi government encourages it.

And although the Sikh religion also opposes discrimination, many in the Sikh community felt that they were discriminated against by high-caste Sikhs who in 2009 were responsible for the murder of cleric Ramanand Dass in Vienna. Following this many Ravidass Gurdwaras declared themselves to be a religion fully separated from Sikhism, although some still consider themselves to be Sikhs. The two groups differ in their regard Guru Ravidas, a North Indian mystic poet-sant who lived around the 14th to 15th century and has many poems attributed to him in the Sikh scriptures.

Many Sikhs, particularly since the 1984 Indian army attacks on the Golden Temple massacring many of those in the complex, and later that year government encouraged riots following the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards in which many more Sikhs were murdered, call of the establishment of a separate Sikh state, Khalistan.

Kahmiris were there to call for India to get out of Kashmir, a country divided into three parts with three occupying powers, Pakistan, China and India, with boundaries between the Indian and Pakistani held region swhich have changed little since the British left in 1947 despite three major wars in Kashmir between the two countries and many border skirmishes. The Chinese army quickly seized the area it considered part of China in 1962, easily defeating the Indian Army.

One recent atrocity in January that united many of the protesters against Modi was the hideous rape and murder of an 8-year-old Muslim girl, Asif Bano in Indian occupied Kashmir by Hindus who kidnapped her and kept her in a temple where she was violated before her body was dumped in bushes. Not only were the details of the crime horrific but regional officials allegedly tried to cover up the crime and there was organised intimidation of those trying to get justice. Eventually 8 men were arrested, including two police officers and and former government official.

Parliament Square was surrounded with flags of the Commonwealth Countries, flying there because of the Commonwealth Conference Modi was in London to attend. Some of the protesters attempted to burn the Indian flag, but it proved to be rather fire resistant, though they did finally persuade it to melt an smoulder a little. There was quite a scrum of protesters and photographers around this group and it was difficult to get any clear pictures.

More on My London Diary:

Indians protest President Modi’s visit
Hindus support Modi
Save Girl, Educate Girl


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