On the death anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar – the architect of the Indian constitution – South Asian activists came together to raise their voices against growing repression of religious minorities and political dissidents in the world’s so called largest democracy.
Organized by the Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI) on Sunday, December 6, the rally was called in response to the recent incident of police violence, involving protesting farmers in New Delhi.
IAPI believes that the currently ruling right wing Hindu nationalist BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trampling the Constitution that guarantees democracy and religious freedom.
It was on December 6 that the BJP supporters demolished an ancient Muslim mosque in 1992 On the anniversary of the adoption of the constitution on November 26 this year, police assaulted the farmers agitating peacefully in the Indian capital. Both these acts years apart reflect the BJP’s disregard for the constitution and Dr. Ambedkar.
The participants assembled outside the Indian Visa and Passport Application Center in Surrey, and raised slogans against the ongoing attacks on minorities and incarceration of political activists, including Dr. Ambedkar’s grand son-in-law Anand Teltumbde.
Teltumbde is an established scholar who was thrown in jail early this year on trumped up charges, for merely questioning the power and speaking out for the poor and marginalized. Some of those present also held signs carrying the pictures of both Teltumbde and Ambedkar, besides others showing solidarity with farmers.
The speakers were unanimous in their criticism of the BJP’s agenda to turn India into a Hindu theocracy by diluting the constitution, threatening minority rights and muzzling any voice of dissent. They expressed their outrage over the way Sikh farmers are being labelled as extremists and separatists by the right wing media owing allegiance to Modi.
The event was started with a poem dedicated to Dr. Ambedkar by IAPI member and poet Amrit Diwana. Others who spoke on the occasion included IAPI members Harbir Rathi and Gurpreet Singh, besides Sikh activists Bhupinder Singh Hothi, Gian Singh Gill and Kulwinder Singh.