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The #ModiNotWelcome Protests in London

The ‪#‎ModiNotWelcome protests in London at Downing Street and Parliament Square, organized by the Awaaz Network of which South Asia Solidarity Group is a constituent organisation, were attended by thousands of people. They included members of women’s organisations, left South Asian groups, Dalit, Sikh and Kashmiri groups and as well as a Nepali contingent. Slogans such as ‘Modi, Modi you can’t hide- you committed genocide’ and ‘Modi, Modi, RSS, Nazi Fascism No Less’ and ‘David Cameron – Shame, Shame – inviting Modi – Not in Our Name’ pursued Modi as he moved from Downing Street to Parliament Square.  As he hypocritically laid flowers at the Gandhi statue, even as his party prepares to celebrate the death anniversary Gandhi’s killer, Nathuram Godse,  the crowd which lined the square roared ‘shame on you’ !

Speakers at a rally facing the square vowed to continue to stand in solidarity with those opposing Modi and the Sangh Parivar in India. Among other speakers, Amrit Wilson of South Asia Solidarity Group spoke about the horrific escalation of violence against minorities, Dalits and women which has been orchestrated by the Hindu Right and supported by the Modi government – that people were being lynched with impunity just for what they eat or whom they love.  She said ‘We stand in solidarity with those fighting Hindutva fascism in India, with the workers facing the sweeping away of labour laws, and we stand with the people of Bihar who have decisively rejected Modi’s hate politics. Modi’s visit to Britain is about selling off India to the new versions of the colonial East India Company.‘ Mentioning the fact that India is the biggest client of Israel’s arms industry, she said that the arms India buys will be used against Indian citizens.  Satpal Muman of Castewatch UK spoke of the horrific tally of killings of Dalits since the new government had come to power and highlighted the way Hindutva organizations in the UK have systematically tried to block the implementation of the anti-caste discrimination in the UK. Rahila Gupta of Southall Black Sisters spoke about how  gender violence and attempts to control women had intensified under Modi. Sangeeta a student active in the ‪#‎ModiNotWelcome campaign, highlighted the way in which Hindu Right groups in the UK  were dividing the South Asian diaspora in UK, including the younger generation, and was feeding into Islamophobia, and how these groups had imported the myth of ‘love jihad’ into Britain.  Banners reminded people of Modi’s culpability for the Gujarat genocide 2002 and placards remembered individual victims of Modi in Gujarat, including Ishrat Jahan, Ehsan Jafri and Kauser Bi. Nepali protesters demanded that Modi  ‘back off!’ and lift the devastating blockade of Nepal.

The night before the #ModiNotWelcome protest at Downing Street and Parliament Square, we had received threatening phone calls warning us that ‘15,000’ Modi supporters would converge there and there would be disturbances. But in fact only a small group of 50 showed up and stood opposite the tail end of the demonstration from where they hurled invective -demonstrating their much touted ‘tolerance’.

The protesters vowed to continue their campaign both against Modi’s visit and against the Hindutva forces in the UK, as well as standing in solidarity with those who are confronting and resisting Hindutva’s corporate fascism in India.


(Videos credited to Guerrera Films)

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PRESS RELEASE – SOUTH ASIA SOLIDARITY GROUP – 12th NOVEMBER 2015: MODI NOT WELCOME PROTEST – WHY WE ARE PROTESTING

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PRESS RELEASE – SOUTH ASIA SOLIDARITY GROUP – 12th NOVEMBER 2015

MODI NOT WELCOME PROTEST – WHY WE ARE PROTESTING

THURSDAY 12th NOVEMBER, MIDDAY ONWARDS, DOWNING STREET AND PARLIAMENT SQUARE

At least three thousand people are expected to converge on PM David Cameron’s residence in Downing Street on Thursday 12th November during his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We will be protesting about Modi’s systematic human rights abuses and promotion of a fascistic politics of hatred in India, as demonstrated by the wave of attacks on Muslims, Christians, and on Dalits which have been orchestrated by Hindu right groups and co-ordinated by the RSS – an organisation modelled on the Nazi and Italian fascist parties – to which Modi owes allegiance. The protests are also against the tide of murders of rationalists and other dissenters, which underline the alarming shift towards fascism in India.

The London protestors stand in solidarity with the very large number of writers, artists, filmmakers, scholars and scientists who have recently returned prestigious government awards in protest at this violence. We also stand in solidarity with the people of Bihar, one of India’s most populous states, which in recent state-level elections have decisively rejected Modi and his party’s politics of hate.

We also cannot forget those who were murdered in the pre-planned genocidal violence against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 when Modi was Chief Minister, who include three British citizens. We also condemn the hypocrisy of David Cameron who claims to be committed to combating gender violence internationally but is hosting Modi who presided over brutal mass rapes and mutilations of women in Gujarat in 2002.

We will also be protesting Modi’s economic policies in which labour laws are being swept aside, trade unions crushed, campaigning NGOs banned, and foreign and Indian corporates given a free hand to plunder and destroy the environment and indulge in massive human rights abuses. Modi’s latest announcement of further concessions on FDI is another example of his unprincipled selling off of India’s resources at the lowest possible price. It also smacks of desperation – Modi is now being criticized by corporate commentators such as Moody’s and Infosys who fear the tide of violence will be bad for the economy; he is even under attack from his own party’s senior leaders for his rabid bigoted election speeches during the Bihar elections.

In this context we also condemn the role of David Cameron in shamelessly promoting the interests of British corporates – the new East India Companies being welcomed by Modi – whatever the cost to the Indian people. For example planned deals on military aviation will facilitate state terror against India’s own people in regions such as Chhattisgarh, Manipur and Kashmir.

The protest exposes the hypocrisy of Narendra Modi in garlanding the statue of Gandhi in Parliament Square tomorrow when not only was Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse affiliated to Modi’s RSS, but currently in India MPs of his own party such as Sakshi Maharaj have called for a temple to be built in the name of Gandhi’s murderer! It is also the height of hypocrisy to claim to honour Gandhi while continuously violating his values of tolerance and religious harmony.

The protests will see people attending from across the country including Coventry, Birmingham, Nottingham, Crawley, Bradford, Southall and all over London. They include the biggest Dalit organisation in the UK, Castewatch, and human rights, women’s and student groups, in addition to community organizations and groups of all faiths. The protest has been called by a coalition of organizations including South Asia Solidarity Group, who have come together under the banner of the Awaaz Network.

More information:  southasiasolidaritygroup@gmail.com  @SAsiaSolidarity

PRESS RELEASE: CasteWatchUK on PM Modi’s visit to the UK and caste atrocities in India under BJP

PRESS RELEASE CasteWatchUK

Date: 4 November 2015

Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK comes at a time when in India violence against Dalits has risen to astronomical levels

CasteWatchUK would like to express its profound concern about the marked deterioration of Human Rights in India since the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) government of Narendra Modi came to power. There has, in particular, been an acute escalation of barbaric attacks on Dalits which are a direct result of the upper-caste Hindu supremacist ideology of the BJP. We note that it is against this background that Mr Modi has decided to visit the UK.

In the face of on-going violence from upper-caste Hindu supremacists of Narendra Modi’s BJP and its sister organisations, CasteWatchUK notes with dismay that Mr Modi is due to inaugurate Ambedkar House and unveil a statue of the great Dalit leader, thinker and author of India’s Constitution.

Why we are concerned

Horrific violence against Dalits has become a daily experience in India. Typical of these atrocities are two recent cases in Faridabad, Haryana State. In one, two children, a 3 year old boy and his 9 month old sister were burnt alive by upper-caste Hindus. In the other a 15 year old Dalit boy was beaten to death for not turning off the music he was playing when he passed an upper-caste area. The Cabinet Minister VK Singh likened the murder of the children to someone throwing a stone at a dog – such is the contempt for Dalits, openly expressed, by a Minister in Narendra Modi’s government.

India is still predominantly a feudal society. Dominant castes, who in rural India are the landowners, perpetrate the most heinous crimes of rape, arson, murder of Dalits, specifically targeting women and children. Dalit women are often forced to parade naked sometimes for the most minor of disagreements, or else even for ‘not showing respect’. There is also a propensity by the ruling elites to dismiss atrocities as law and order issues. Studies show, however, that Dalits are specifically targeted because of the resentment felt by upper-castes, particularly when Dalits try to rise above the down-trodden status ascribed to them, or when they try to assert their human rights.

This appalling state of affairs has got far worse in the last two years, deteriorating first during Modi’s election campaign in 2013, and then deteriorating, even more acutely, since he has come to power. The primary reason for this is the BJP’s polarising upper-caste Hindu supremacist ideology.

Murders and rapes of Dalits have risen with the increasing influence of the BJP

According to a recent report in the Times of India1 dated 22 October 2015 , crimes against Dalits, who are also known as Scheduled Castes (SCs), rose 19 percent last year, on top of a 17 per cent increase in 2013. In addition, as many as 744 Dalits were murdered last year, up from 676 in 2013. In Haryana alone, 21 Dalits were murdered in 2014.

According to statistics compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in 2012 there were 33,655 crimes against Scheduled Castes ( or Dalits) about the same as in 2011. These figures rose to a horrific 47,064 in 2014 from 39,408 in 2013.

In fact, the rate of such crimes against Dalits surpassed the national average in as many as 10 states in 2013 and 2014. The rate of crime is the number of crimes reported against SCs per[100,000] of their population. In 2014, the rate of crime against Dalits was 23.4 and in 2013 it was 19.57.

NCRB statistics show that 2,233 Dalit women were raped in 2014, up from 2,073 in 2013, 1,576 in 2012, 1,557 in 2011, 1,349 in 2010 and 1,346 in 2009. Kidnappings and abductions also went up in these years, barring in 2012 when there was a marginal decline. Against 755 kidnappings/abductions in 2014, there were 628 in 2013, 490 in 2012, 616 in 2011, 511 in 2010 and 512 in 2009.

The Weapon of Social Boycott is going unchallenged by State agencies

Social boycott is another weapon used to suppress the Dalits often rendering them helpless, unable to purchase goods or go into fields to graze animals, or even walk down a pathway wearing decent clothes as this is frowned upon by dominant castes as being above their station. If they start a small scale business then dominant castes ostracise them.

Where law enforcement agencies actually do their job they have frequently faced threat, for example, as the Hindu Newspaper reported on 2 November 2015 :

On 31st October, officers representing the district administration had a tough time in Village Sigaranahalli in Holenarasipur [district] taluk on Saturday evening, when they visited the village following a complaint from Dalit families alleging that the dominant castes had imposed a social boycott on them. The dominant castes allegedly surrounded the officers and challenged them to file cases against them, whilst defending the social boycott on Dalits in the village 2.

At the same time there are many instances where law enforcement agencies work in collusion with politicians. A series of murders where this collusion took place in Bihar, in the 90s, was recently exposed by Cobrapost3, an Indian news portal and here the upper-castes were supported by upper-caste Hindu supremacists. Not one of the killers has been sentenced.

CasteWatchUK supports the statements by the numerous intellectuals, academics, eminent scientists, historians, free thinkers and literary figures who are returning India’s top civilian awards in protest. As one prominent scientist, Dr P. M Bhargava recently said: “We reject

the narrow view of India that seeks to dictate what people will wear, think, eat and who they will love. … we appeal to all other sections of society to raise their voice against the assault on reason and scientific temper [that] we are witnessing in India today.”

What we think about Mr Modi inaugurating Ambedkar House

We condemn the way Narendra Modi has tried to pit Dalits and Muslims against each other in the just-concluded Bihar election campaign. Against this background and against the continuing atrocities against Dalits under the present government with its upper-caste Hindutva ideology, Mr Muman, Chairman of CasteWatchUK says:

‘We regard Modi’s planned inauguration of Ambedkar House as a cynical PR exercise which aims merely to show the world that he cares about the Dalit community. However, it is also an insult to the memory of Ambedkar. There is a danger that the continued hero- worship of Prime Minister Modi will move the country down a slippery slope towards dictatorship and fascism’.

We urge the Indian Prime Minister to abandon these lavish PR exercises and in its place:

  •   to focus on a nation-wide campaign to uproot the culture of violence against minorities and Dalits and in its place embed a culture of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and Justice as enshrined in the Preamble to the Indian Constitution.
  •   that exemplary fines and punishments must be imposed on perpetrators of caste violence with national media coverage to act as deterrence.
  •   that the development agenda as pursued by the present government must not only be restricted to economic gains but also extend developing the human capital free from caste prejudice so that benefits accrues to all and not to just the few.
  •   that policies must be specifically targeted toward the development of Dalit communities who are treated as sub-human in their own country to enable them to rise and to live a life of dignity and prosperity.

    References:

    1 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Crimes-against-Dalits-rose-19-in-2014-murders-rose-to- 744/articleshow/49488994.cms

    2http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/village-tense-after-imposition-of-social-boycott- on-dalits/article7831277.ece

    3 http://cobrapost.com/index.php/news-detail?nid=8983&cid=23
    For further details contact: Tel no 07751-668926, or email: info@castewatchuk.org

    CasteWatchUK championed the campaign to make Caste Based Discrimination Illegal in the UK. It is the largest organisation representing interest of Dalits in UK.

Naming and Shaming: Virendra Sharma MP

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Virendra Sharma with fellow Modi Toady Barry Gardiner (left) and Indian High Commissioner Ranjan Mathai

Harsh times are not of course harsh for everyone. For many, particularly those who are willing to sacrifice their principles, they bring fresh opportunities. The Labour MP from Ealing Southall, Virendra Sharma is one such. He seems to have opted to do away with his principles altogether and follow the well Vaselined path in the footsteps of his fellow MP Keith Vaz. Looking at it another way he is now a fully-fledged supporter of Hindutva fascism under #ModiRaj.

This is why Sharma is the third in our ‘Name and Shame’ list after Barry Gardiner and Keith Vaz – our list, like the lists of X Factor contestants, is ‘in no particular order’.

Sharma’s Modi-fication started  a couple of years back. He had started his political career (back in 2007) proclaiming that he would represent all the communities in his constituency but in November 2013 he did a neat U-Turn and became the Vice President of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Hindus. There is of course nothing wrong with that on the face of it.

The problem is that the APPG does not really represent British Hindus. It represents the right-wing Hindu groups organised under the banner of Hindutva or Hindu fascism. One of its main areas of interest appears to be ‘Justice in Kashmir’. Its discussions, however, make no mention of the grave  injustices experienced by the people who actually live in Kashmir. Nothing about the fact that Indian soldiers and paramilitaries can, and do, rape and murder with impunity or that thousands of unmarked graves lie in the countryside, or that disappearances and ‘encounter killings’ are commonplace. The APPG for British Hindus seems to be interested exclusively in the fate of Kashmiri Hindus (or Pandits) and the possibility of their return to the Kashmir valley.

Working alongside Sharma as the secretary of the APPG is Jayesh Jotangia, a man whose twitter feed demonstrates his admiration for, and closeness to, the RSS, the paramilitary organisation modelled on the Nazi party, which is at the core of Hindu fascism.

And on another level, his position against the Britain’s anti- caste discrimination legislation.

Sadly for Sharma, his desire to be a faithful follower of Modi and Hindutva has not always been taken seriously by his new-found friends. Some Hindutva supporters have even viewed his declarations with something like contempt  – the website Kapil’s Kichadi commenting, for example, as recently as September last year, that while it was interesting to hear Sharma say,  “‘Jammu and Kashmir are a full and integral part of India’, adding, ‘We don’t want to be branded or tarnished with the same brush as these other communities that do improper things’. .. he is someone who in the past has often let our community down.  So time will tell if he means what he says, or whether he takes advantage of opportunities to make speeches for votes and publicity”.

Perhaps it was this type of scornful suspicion which made Sharma do a number of other U-turns which may have left a less shameless man embarrassed. He had, for example, in summer this year, signed the parliamentary Early Day Motion 257 which express concern about the Human Rights violations in India, but on second thoughts ‘withdrew’ his signature. Around the same time he also began to cancel previously confirmed Parliamentary meetings critical of Modi.

More recently, Sharma has gone even further to prove that he is a genuine Modi Toady – he has joined Keith Vaz and Steve Pound in declaring that he will donate his November pay rise to the cultural extravaganza for Narendra Modi in Wembley. Even a petition urging him to give his money to food banks in this country, or to those traumatised families in India who have lost their loved ones and their homes and livelihoods as a result of Hindutva violence, has not made him change his mind or provide any justification for his actions.

However, Sharma may well end up regretting his ‘love-bombing’ of Modi. His constituents are making it clear that they are angry about his political acrobatics – they are due to protest outside his office about ‘his refusal to justify his position or act with integrity’.

Naming and Shaming: Keith Vaz

KEITH VAZ MP CHAIRMAN OF THE HOME AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE 2011 THE AAC, LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND 28 September 2011 DIC8783 ADDRESSES THE LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE 2011 AT THE AAC LIVERPOOL

If fascism has been reincarnated in India with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as its standard bearer, on this side of the world  British MPs are playing the role of Chamberlain. The difference though is that instead of holding secret meetings with the Indian version of Hitler in India, they are openly welcoming a mass murderer to Britain.

The most prominent of these MPs are Barry Gardiner, Labour MP for Brent North and Keith Vaz, Labour MP for Leicester East. Both have significant numbers of Gujarati Hindu voters in their constituencies, many of whom have absorbed the anti-Muslim, anti-Dalit propaganda of the Hindu Right.  Instead of fulfilling their roles as responsible leaders and educating their voters, these MPs are simply (and contemptuously) regarding them as vote banks incapable of rational thought.

We have already written about Barry Gardiner, next in our Hall of Shame is Keith Vaz. Like Gardiner, Vaz is an opportunist par excellence. He also has a remarkable talent for reinventing himself . While in 1989 he joined right-wing Muslim marchers opposing the publication of Salman Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses, today he is able to welcome Narendra Modi, the Butcher of Gujarat, with open arms –  turning a blind eye on the on-going  murders, rapes and intimidation of Muslims, Christians and oppressed caste Hindus in India under Modi’s Hindu-fascist government. Against a background where nearly a million people in the UK depend on food banks, while in India thousands of traumatised people (who have lost loved ones as a result of on-going Hindutva violence) are  still without homes or livelihoods, Vaz lavished praise on the ‘Olympics style’ cultural extravaganza  to welcome Modi. He declared ‘I am so excited about this event I will donate my pay rise for November for this great function’. Two other Labour MPs, Virendra Sharma and Steve Pound, eager to follow in his footsteps also rushed to declare their support in the same way for the collossal waste of money involved in ‘welcoming’ Modi.

Vaz’s labour of sycophancy has been built over several years during which he has been ready to cosy up to every wealthy Hindutva supporter in the UK. Among them is C.B. Patel, the owner of Asian Voice and Gujarat Samachar publications, both of which have played a highly dubious role in creating divisions in the Asian community.

At the same time, as the Independent reported, Vaz  ‘has spent much of his 26 years in the corridors of power mired in near-scandals, actual scandals, watchdog scrutinies, leaks, accusations, investigations, complaints and a suspension’ … and ‘been christened “the Teflon MP” and “Keith Vazeline” for the way he seems to slide past trouble’.

These scandals include the Hinduja affair in 2001 when Vaz  made enquiries to the Home Office about the passport applications of the corporate bosses, the Hinduja brothers, who just happened to be clients of his wife Maria Fernandes’ firm, and  close friends of his family. In the wake of the scandal, Vaz admitted to helping them but denied any conflict of interest. He resigned from his post as Europe Minister on medical grounds.

Most recently, in summer this year,  Vaz, known by now as the ‘go to man’ for visas intervened on behalf of  the tycoon Lalit Modi, founder of the IPL Cricket League whose passport had been revoked by the Congress government following allegations of corporate corruption, money-laundering and tax evasion. Vaz personally wrote to Sarah Rapson, the director- general of UK visas and immigration, in an effort to expedite Lalit Modi’s case. At the time, Vaz was Chairman of the powerful Commons Home Affairs Select Committee in which role he was required to scrutinise and hold to account the work of Rapson and her department.  The approach on behalf of a wealthy and influential individual who was not one of Vaz’s Leicester East constituents and moreover was implicated at the time in a number of criminal offences in India led to accusations of conflict of interest which, however, Vaz appears once again to have hushed up successfully.

The British government claims to exclude those who have been involved in acts of terrorism but it has had no qualms about giving visas, not only to Narendra Modi but also to others directly involved in Hindutva terror and Vaz has played a key role in making them feel welcome. They have been allowed to enter freely and also to address meetings in Parliament.

One of them is, Sadhavi Rithambara  indicted by the Liberhan Commission  as one of the culprits and provocateurs in the demolition of 16th century Babri Mosque. We do not have proof that Vaz abused his position and arranged the hate-priestess’s entry into Britain. What is clear, and shocking, however, is that during one of her visits he organised a meeting in her honour at the House of Commons.

Tory MP Bob Blackman was also present (see photograph).

Most recently, restless to outdo the other diehard Modi supporters and ignoring the concerns of his party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and 40 other MPs who have signed an Early Day Motion about the increasing number of human rights violations in India, Keith Vaz has written to the vice-chancellors of Leicester  and De Montfort University nominating  mass murderer Modi for an honorary degree .

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