Even as India goes to polls on April 11 in an atmosphere allegedly causing deep concern, several UK-based human rights and Dalits organisations held a vigil outside the Indian High Commission in London Pointing out that this was part of a global day of action with a similar protests taking place in New York and in solidarity with people’s agenda 2019 event which took place in Delhi, they released a set of demands on rights situation in India.
Participants included representatives from the South Asia Solidarity Group, CasteWatch UK, SOAS India Society, Dr Ambedkar Memorial Committee GB, and the Ambedkar International Mission.
The demonstrators held pictures of Mohamed Aqhlakh, Zafar, Gauri Lankesh, Junaid Khan and Asifa and placards saying ‘Ambedkar Bhagat Singh! Democracy will win!’ They shouted slogans such as ‘Modi! Modi! Shame! Shame! No more killings in our name!’, ‘Hands Off Dr Teltumde! Hands Off Dr Saibaba!’ and ‘Justice for Junaid! Justice for Gauri Lankesh! Justice for Asifa! Justice for Judge Loya!’
They expressed their deep concern that lynchings of Muslims, Dalits and Christians by RSS-led mobs, assassinations of dissenters, rapes and escalating violence against women, the arrests and incarceration of human rights defenders and progressive intellectuals have indeed turned India into a republic of fear.
They noted that a media loyal to the government whips up hate and hysteria on a daily basis, while journalists who speak out are persecuted and even murdered. The independence of the judiciary has been systematically compromised and even judges are not safe from assassination if they dare to remain impartial.
They condemned the increasing repression and daily human rights violations in Kashmir, which is happening as the military occupation is intensified and extended, and warmongering jingoistic rhetoric is used cynically for electoral gain leading the country to the brink of a devastating war with Pakistan.
They expressed their concern that blatantly anti-people and pro-corporate economic policies coupled with shameless corruption have led to massive unemployment, corporate takeover of land, indebtedness and an epidemic of farmer suicides. Adivasi communities are being displaced and facing acute violence when they resist, and forests destroyed on an unprecendented scale; that basic economic rights are being denied to the vast majority of India’s people.
They condemned the open calls from prominent Hindutva figures to do away with the Indian Constitution – the cornerstone of the country’s democracy and civil liberties, written by Dr BR Ambedkar after India’s independence and the fact that these figures want to replace it with the Manusmriti, an ancient Brahminical legal text which is known for its misogyny and its contempt for oppressed caste.
(April 11, 2019 ) n