Braving cold weather, dedicated South Asian activists gathered at the Holland Park in Surrey on Saturday to hold rally in commemoration of the 25 years of the demolition of Babri Mosque.
On December 6, 1992 the Hindu extremists had razed the ancient Muslim shrine at the behest of the right wing Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) which currently governs India. The BJP continues to claim that the mosque was built by Babur – an Islamist ruler after destroying a temple made at the birthplace of Lord Ram. The party has once again intensified its campaign for building Ram temple at the disputed site.
Organized by the Indians Abroad for Pluralist India and Radical Desi, the rally was started by a moment of silence in memory of a Muslim labourer brutally murdered by a Hindu fanatic in Rajasthan, India this past week. Shambhu Lal, the main suspect not only hacked the Muslim man to death but set him alight. The video of his violent action went viral on social media. Lal justified the murder accusing Muslims of Jihad in India. Such incidents have grown ever since BJP came to power with brute majority in 2014.
The speakers felt that on the 25th anniversary of the Babri episode not just the Muslims but all minorities feel insecure under a BJP government. They unanimously denounced attempts to turn India into a Hindu state and demanded that the Babri Mosque be rebuilt and handed over to the Muslim community.
Among those who addressed the gathering were Dalit activist and poet Amrit Diwana, Al Ameen newspaper publisher Jaffer Bhamji, the founder of the Coalition Against Bigotry Imtiaz Popat, Dashmesh Darbar Gurdwara Spokesman Gian Singh Gill, a Marxist activist Hardev Singh, an independent leftist activist Rakesh Kumar, Miracle newspaper publisher Naseer Pirzada, a veteran Sikh activist Kesar Singh Baghi and Radical Desi Director Gurpreet Singh.
Since the Babri episode date coincided with the death anniversary of Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar – a towering Indian scholar who had coauthored the constitution that guarantees religious freedom, a poem dedicated to him was read by Diwana.
Gian Singh Gill warned that India will soon become a Hindu nation if all minorities did not join hands.
Bhamji said that India ‘s diversity is under constant attack from the Hindu right, while Popat said that the bigotry and Islamophobia have also increased in other parts of the world which has further given legitimacy to the violence against Muslims in India.
Hardev Singh called upon for a unity among all secularist and progressive forces to defeat the designs of the BJP.
Notably, no Indo Canadian politician turned up for the rally despite being invited by the organizers. Gurpreet Singh demanded that the community members should write to their MPs to break their silence on Babri episode and growing threat of Hindu extremism.
The participants also raised slogans against Hindu fanaticism and distributed flyers carrying the brief history of the incident to raise awareness.