In spite of rain and cold weather, South Asian activists gathered outside the Indian Visa and Passport Application Center in Surrey on Friday, December 10 to raise their voices for political prisoners being incarcerated by the world’s so-called largest democracy.

Organized by Radical Desi, the rally started with a moment of silence for 14 civilians killed by the Indian army in Nagaland on December 4, and renowned journalist Vinod Dua, who passed away recently.

Dua was a known critic of the current right wing Hindu nationalist government in New Delhi under which attacks on religious minorities and political dissidents have grown sharply.

The demonstrators held out signs asking for the release of jailed journalists and scholars, including former Delhi University Lecturer Professor G.N. Saibaba, who is disabled below the waist, as well as prominent columnists Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde. All these people were held under trumped up charges for standing up against repression and state violence.

Teltumbde’s brother Milind, who was a Maoist insurgent, recently died in an alleged faked encounter with the police. He was not even allowed to visit his grief stricken mother on bereavement leave.

Those in attendance raised slogans against draconian laws, and asked for the repeal of repressive acts that are being used to muzzle the voices of resistance.

The speakers at the rally included prominent Punjabi writer Amrit Diwana, who recited a poem dedicated to Milind Teltumbde. Others who addressed the gathering were Sikh activists Kesar Singh Baghi and Kulwinder Singh, leftist activist Tejinder Sharma and cofounder of Radical Desi Gurpreet Singh.

Among the politicians who came out to show their support were BC Liberal Party leadership candidate Ellis Ross, Liberal MLA John Rustad, and anti-racism campaigner and city councillor from Mission, Ken Herar.

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