M Ghazali Khan
LONDON: Hundreds of Indian diaspora from all over the UK gathered outside 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London on Sunday and marched to Indian High Commission, protesting against the brazen violation of human rights and the arrests and detentions of human rights activists in India.
They held placards with a variety of messages on them and portraits of Hindutva leaders, including Modi, Yogi, Kapil Mishra, Yati Narsinghanand and several others, with the heading, ‘Wanted’, and a one-line description of their crime beneath it.
One placard read, ‘Silence is a crime’. Another said, ‘Stop killing minorities in India’. Third screamed, ‘You can’t bulldoze us to silence’.
The placards also showed photographs of human rights activists facing the wrath of Hindutva government. One placard showing the iconic photograph of Afreen Fatima read with a caption, ‘We stand with Afreen Fatima’. Another read, ‘We stand with’ beneath which were the photographs of Teesta Setalvad, R.B. Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt.
Chanting slogans, ‘Modi, Modi you can’t hide, you committed genocide; ‘When Modi attacks, stand and fight back’ the marchers reached the Indian High Commission and raised slogans.
Before departing for the Indian High Commission, several speakers addressed the gathering. Kalpna Wilson, an academic and member of the South Asia Solidarity Group, in her speech said: ‘…Boris Johnson… and the British government are complicit in the impending genocide in India.’ Reminding the protesters of Boris Johnson’s insensitivity to the violation of human rights in India, Ms Wilson said: ‘We can’t forget that while the JCB bulldozers were being sent by the Modi government to destroy Muslims’ homes in Delhi and UP and, most recently as well saw the brave activist Fatima’s home in Allahabad was destroyed. Right at that time our Prime Minister Borris Johnson was posing on a JCB Bulldozer to the media.’
She added: ‘So what my organisation South Asia Solidarity Group and all of us here today and all the 20 diaspora organisations who have called this march want to say to him is: “Stop enabling genocide. Stop enabling fascism in India.’
She said that while Modi and his foot soldiers are committing atrocities against Muslims, Christians, Dalits and Adivasis, ‘His corporate friends Adani and Ambani are plundering India…and while they are doing that, they’ve got the support of British banks, of British finance, of the city of London just like in the days of the East India Company which robbed India for two centuries.’
Kaplna Wilson warned that Hindutva supremacist groups in the UK are raising funds to help organisations involved in crimes against Muslims and other marginalised communities. ‘Funds that are raised by organisations like Seva International go directly to the groups that are carrying the mob lynching of Muslims and Dalits… And we have proved time and again how that money goes towards killing. And we demand action to stop the funding of hate in India from Britain; to stop the funding of genocide in India from Britain’, She said.
Kaplna Wilson went on: ‘We will never forget what happened in 2002. We will never forget those precious lives that were lost.’ She paid tribute to the courage Zakia Jafri, the widow of Congress MP late Ehsan Jafri who was brutally maimed and killed by Hindutva mobs and Teesta Setalvad.
‘We will always remember the incredible courage of Zakia Jafri…who fought for 20 years to bring the main culprit to justice and we know his name. We know that it’s Narendra Modi who ordered those killings.’ Kaplna praised human rights activist Teesta Seetalvad for her unflinching support to Zakia Jafri who, she said, is ‘behind bars today. And we demand her immediate release.’
Mr Sagheer, representing Strive UK, one of the organising bodies of the demonstration, said: ‘Our fight is against the oppressive ideology of Hindutva. They are brewing up genocide in India. With [the help of] all of you we will resist its ambassadors, enablers, apologists and those complicit through their silence.’
Sagheer cited a long list of the crimes of Hindutva committed against Muslims, Christians and Dalits. He said ‘our fight is against all those who believe in the philosophy that encourages and defends these crimes.
Sagheer emphasised that Hindutva is not Hinduism: ‘Hindutva people are trying to hijack and monopolise Hinduism.’ He added. ‘But as a Muslim, believe me, I know more than anyone here today what it means to have things done and claimed in the name of faith. We have to realise that Hinduism is not Hindutva. Our fight is against the ideology of Hindutva.’
Claudia Webbe, Member of Parliament from Leicester East, said: ‘I stand here to say with you “No” to the criminalisation of human rights activists. “No” to the criminalisation of journalists and others. And “No” to the bulldozing of Muslim homes.’
Enumerating the crimes being committed against minorities in India the Labour MP lambasted at the British Government for its friendly approach towards India. ‘Britain’s imperial past of divide and rule in India cannot be allowed to continue…Britain’s trade agreements with India need to be called out. They are lacking in any human rights stipulations. We have a duty to oppose this.’
Like previous speakers, Ms Raghad Altikriti of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) expressed her anger and disgust at the murders, lynching and rapes of Muslims in India. Citing examples of BJP led Hindutva government, Ms Raghad made particular mention of the predominantly Muslim Lakshadweep where a beef ban has been imposed and liquor sale has been allowed and relaxed.