Members and supporters of Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI) held a rally for D.S. Bindra outside the Indian passport and visa application center in Surrey on the afternoon of Sunday, June 21.

An advocate and activist, Bindra has been named in a charge sheet filed by Delhi police against individuals accused of inciting violent protests against India’s discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which is unfair to Muslim refugees coming to India from neighbouring countries.

Bindra’s only fault was that he had organized langar (community kitchen) for the peaceful protestors in Delhi, in accordance with his Sikh traditions.

This follows the arrests of several activists, including Safoora Zargar, a pregnant woman, for raising their voices against CAA passed by the right wing Hindu nationalist government. This is in sharp contrast to leniency toward supporters of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) who actually instigated hate and mob violence against Muslims.

Canada-based IAPI came into being in response to growing attacks on religious minorities and political dissidents under the BJP government since 2014.

On Mother’s Day last month, the IAPI held a car rally outside the same venue for Safoora due to COVID 19. The June 21 rally was also kept very small because of health emergency guidelines, and the physical distance was maintained by those in attendance.

The participants held signs reading, “Serving Langar is not a crime” and “We stand with D.S. Bindra”, besides those reading, “No to CAA” and “Free Safoora”. They raised slogans against state violence in India. Since June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the rally started with a moment of silence for Chantel Moore and Rodney Levi, an indigenous woman and a man who died at the hands of police recently in New Brunswick.

The speakers were unanimous in their demand for freedom of Safoora and other political prisoners, and condemned the highhandedness of Delhi Police against Bindra. The Sikh activists who showed up felt that it was a direct assault on their faith, and came as a rude shock to the community which is grieving the military attack on their holiest shrine, the Golden Temple Complex by Indian forces 36 years ago in the month of June, 1984.

Those who spoke on the occasion included former spokesman of Gurdwara Dashmesh Darbar, Gian Singh Gill, the president of Guru Nanak Singh Temple, Surrey-Delta Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Sikh scholar Charanjit Singh Sujjon, independent Sikh activist Kulwinder Singh, prominent anti-racism educator Annie Ohana, well known progressive Punjabi poet Amrit Diwana, and IAPI members, Sayed Wajahat and Gurpreet Singh.


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