rss kids

It was late July this year when some Sikh kids came out with their parents in Surrey, to register their protest against the unjust farm laws passed by the world’s so-called largest democracy without due consultations.

Implemented by the ruling right wing Hindu nationalist BJP government in New Delhi, these laws threaten the livelihood of the peasantry, which has taken to the streets since November, 2020. Most Indo-Canadians come from Punjab, which is considered the bread basket of India, and belong to the predominantly farming Sikh community. So the ongoing farmers’ protest back home has drawn wide support here from coast to coast.

The July demonstration was organized by the Guru Granth Sahib Satkaar Committee, a group dedicated to the Sikh scriptures. The children who were part of the rally punched fists on the portrait of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I made a video of the event and posted it on Twitter, without realizing that it would go viral.

Shortly after that, supporters of Modi and his BJP began trolling the organizers and myself. Some described these young souls as potential terrorists and started comparing them with Taliban and ISIS members. These people were being completely unfair, as the children involved in the protest were not using replica guns to target Modi’s poster. All they were doing was punching his image.

Perhaps they need to be reminded how young children also participated in the Indian freedom movement and spoke to the power. Instead of taking all this in stride, and doing some self-reflection about where Modi and his party have gone wrong, they were trying to malign these young protestors.

In contrast, the RSS, a Hindu supremacist group of which BJP is a political wing, continues to encourage kids to carry arms, and incites them against minorities with impunity. Notably, Modi himself is an RSS member, having joined it when he was only eight.

Dedicated to the cause of transforming India into a Hindu theocracy, the RSS has a track record of being involved in violence to terrorise minorities, especially Muslims and Christians.

Before becoming the Prime Minister in 2014, Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, which witnessed its worst Muslim massacre under his watch in 2002.

Not surprisingly, attacks on religious minorities have grown in India under Modi. However, the most recent developments call for global attention and swift action against the BJP. While world leaders remain obsessed with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and refuse to recognize that government, they look away when it comes to the crimes of Modi’s government.

The extremists do not exist in Afghanistan alone, and the international leadership needs to see that.

On Sunday, October 3, the convoy of Ajay Mishra, a minister in the BJP government, allegedly ran over peasants agitating against farm laws in Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh (UP), leaving four farmers dead.

Video footage of a vehicle mowing down the peaceful protestors is now being widely circulated on social media. Earlier, two videos emerged, of Mishra and another BJP leader and the Chief Minister of Haryana Manohar Lal Khattar inciting party supporters to violently attack the protesting farmers, suggesting that this could be a pre-planned conspiracy. Notably, UP is ruled by the BJP, which has been notoriously trying to suppress the farmers’ struggle.

Considering all these facts, if anyone deserves to be called terrorists, it is the BJP leaders, like Mishra and Khattar. Unfortunately, given that they are in power, we cannot expect any senior BJP political functionary to be charged for terror, but it’s time for world leaders to intervene before it’s too late and designate the BJP and the RSS as terror groups.

Those agitated by the video of innocent children punching Modi’s poster in Surrey, out of genuine outrage they share with their concerned parents, should instead make their masters in New Delhi accountable, and figure out – who are the real terrorists? If the June, 2021 attack in London, Ontario that killed four members of a Pakistani Muslim family in a similar manner can be described as terrorism, the Lakhimpur Kheri incident cannot be treated differently. After all, the white supremacist accused of running his vehicle into the family that was out for a walk is facing charges under terrorism. It’s time for Canada to show leadership and put BJP on its terror list, to send a strong message, or at least make a strong statement on behalf of the Indo Canadian community that is deeply devastated by this development.

Gurpreet Singh is a Canada based journalist


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