Protesters rail against human rights abuses under Modi/BJP authoritarian regime in India
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC (May 31, 2022) – Protesters gathered near the Embassy of India in Washington, D.C., on Sunday afternoon, calling for an end to human rights abuses and assaults on religious freedom in India.
The participants, who included people of multiple faiths, gathered at the base of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Gandhi Memorial Plaza.
The Indian embassy along Massachusetts Avenue was in the background as people took part in a Muslim prayer service, chanted and gave speeches.
Speakers emphasized that they are not against India as a nation, but they issued pleas to restore India to a secular democracy where people of many faiths live together, rather than its current state as an autocracy governed by the far-right Hindu extremist BJP.
There have been multiple reports of persecution of Muslims, Christians, Dalits and other minority groups in recent years. These incidents have increased significantly since the election of the BJP, with Narendra Modi as prime minister, to national office in 2014.
India’s Muslims, the country’s largest minority group with more than 200 million adherents, have received the brunt of the persecution, including demolitions of their homes, businesses and places of worship by local authorities, acts of deadly violence and calls for genocide.
Mosques around the country, including those that have stood for centuries, are at risk of demolition as Hindu activists who want to use the sites for their worship – citing the Hindu temples that were there prior to construction of the mosques – file civil suits. The fate of hundreds of Indian mosques, such as the Gyanvapi masjid in the city of Varanasi, could be tied up in the courts.
Christians also face persecution, such as assaults and mob violence at houses of worship. An 84-year-old Jesuit priest who was an advocate for the Adivasi indigenous people was imprisoned under anti-terrorism laws and died in police custody in 2021. Modi’s BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) controls the national government and that of multiple states such as Uttar Pradesh – India’s largest state in terms of population and the home state of the Gyanvapi mosque.
The BJP is the political wing of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), the nearly century-old fascist-inspired paramilitary organization that has spent decades trying to turn India from a secular state with constitutional guarantees of religious freedom into a Hindu-supremacist nation.
The pillars of democracy in India are crumbling under Modi’s rule. The Indian diaspora living in the United States of America wants to see India progressing and thriving under a prime minister who will restore democracy. We want to protect India from fascism, and we urge Indian citizens to unite and protect their country from falling into civil strife.