“Resign Modi”: Independence Day banner dropped from London’s Westminster Bridge

Original article here.

On the occasion of Indian Independence Day, a group of diaspora Indian activists in the United Kingdom dropped a banner from London’s Westminster Bridge, demanding Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s resignation. They listed several reasons for their opposition to the Modi government in a press release, including calls for religious genocide, India’s “settler colonialism” in Kashmir, agricultural corporatisation, and the government’s mishandling of the second wave of COVID-19, among others. The group also held a candlelight vigil outside the Indian High Commission in the UK. The press release issued by the group is pasted below.

PRESS RELEASE 15th August 2021, London

DIASPORA MEMBERS AND FRIENDS OF INDIA IN THE UK DEMAND ‘RESIGN MODI’ WITH DRAMATIC INDEPENDENCE DAY BANNER DROP FROM LONDON’S WESTMINSTER BRIDGE!

As dawn broke in London today, members of the diaspora and friends of India in the UK dropped a huge banner reading ‘Resign Modi’ from London’s iconic Westminster Bridge. En route to the bridge, the participants had held a candlelight vigil outside the Indian High Commission to remember all the victims of the Modi regime.

One of the organisers, Mukti Shah from South Asia Solidarity Group, explained the reasons for the action:

“As India’s 75th Independence Day dawns, the country’s secular Constitution lies in tatters. Communal and caste violence stalk the land. Thousands of political prisoners languish in Covid-infected prisons, and hundreds of thousands of people are grieving the loss of their loved ones as a result of the callous negligence and mismanagement of the Coronavirus crisis. We, a group of diaspora members and friends standing in solidarity with the people of India, are demanding the resignation of Narendra Modi, the chief architect of this violence, injustice and criminal negligence”.

A statement released at the time of the banner drop identifies ten specific reasons for the call for Modi’s resignation:

1. Calls for genocide of Muslims and normalization of mob lynching and pogroms

Calls for the genocide of Muslims are being made openly at rallies in the national capital and elsewhere in the country by people who belong to Hindu supremacist terror groups. Far from investigating these groups and dismantling them, these incidents are being brushed aside as part of ‘normal life’. This follows on from the gradual normalization of horrific violence against Muslims since Modi came to power in 2014. Mob lynching, pogroms and police attacks on Muslim neighborhoods are now common occurrences. This normalization, together with the fact that Modi has never apologized for the Gujarat massacres of 2002, which happened under his watch as Chief Minister, suggest that India is being prepared by Modi for another large-scale genocidal attack on Muslims. It must never be allowed to happen again! MODI MUST RESIGN!

2. Rapes and murders of Dalit women and girls

The ever-present violence against Dalits has increased several-fold under Narendra Modi, with Dalit women and girls being gang-raped and murdered by oppressor-caste men who are shielded by ruling BJP governments at state and central level. The Hathras gang rape and murder is well-known. Similar cases are widespread and every day brings fresh horrors. Most recently a nine year old Dalit girl was raped and murdered by a crematorium priest in Delhi who then tried to burn her body. The Prime Minister has remained silent in the face of such unspeakable violence and Brahmanical misogyny. MODI MUST RESIGN!

3. The corporate takeover of agriculture

The Modi regime has passed three Farm Laws which facilitate a handover of the entire agricultural sector to his corporate cronies Gautam Adani and Mukesh Ambani. This corporatisation will push India’s already impoverished farmers into destitution and landlessness. The country’s food self-sufficiency will be destroyed, deepening hunger. A massive farmers’ movement has arisen to challenge these laws and has been at the doorstep of the capital since November last year. Modi has consistently ignored the voices of this key section of India’s working people. MODI MUST RESIGN!

4. Incarceration of dissenters and human rights defenders

The Modi regime has imprisoned thousands of people whose only ‘crime’ has been to dissent, to advocate for the most marginalised and oppressed groups, or to take part in nonviolent protests, under draconian laws like the UAPA. Elderly and vulnerable academics and lawyers, students and young activists, including thousands of Adivasi youth, are locked up in overcrowded and unhygienic conditions in the middle of a pandemic. Their lives are at extreme risk. Some have already been infected with the virus and are being denied treatment, or only provided treatment after enormous pressure from their friends and families. Others, like Father Stan Swamy, an 84-year-old Jesuit priest who suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and was denied even some of his most basic needs, have already died – murdered in custody by the Modi regime. MODI MUST RESIGN!

5. Settler colonialism in Kashmir

Kashmiris have suffered decades of intense militarisation, grave human rights abuses and the denial of their right to self-determination. Under Narendra Modi, India’s relationship with Kashmir has entered a new phase of occupation similar to Israel’s settler colonialism. The abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, in violation of both India’s Constitution and International Law, has been followed by two years of brutal lockdowns, curfews, mass imprisonment and the longest ever internet and communication blockade in the history of any democracy. Underlying this are the Modi regime’s plans for demographic changes, corporate plunder, and ecological destruction in Kashmir. MODI MUST RESIGN!

6. Modi’s Nuremberg Laws

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), brought by the Modi regime is an attack on the very basis of Indian citizenship. It allows migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan to become Indian citizens provided they are Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Jain, or Christian. By explicitly linking Indian citizenship with religious affiliation, and conspicuously excluding Muslims, the CAA violates India’s secular Constitution and seeks to build a legal foundation for the BJP’s stated dream of creating a fascistic Hindu state. Combined with the National Register of Citizens (NRC), and the National Population Register (NPR), the new citizenship rules will result in the potential disenfranchisement of India’s 200 million Muslims. Meanwhile BJP-ruled states have introduced so-called ‘Love jihad’ laws seeking to outlaw interfaith relationships. All of these laws have a striking similarity to the Nazis’ Nuremberg laws. MODI MUST RESIGN!

7. Modi’s environmental crimes

India is the world’s fourth-worst country in the Environmental Performance Index. While the global climate crisis intensifies, Modi stands guilty of major environmental crimes. He has granted mining and infrastructural projects unprecedented access to forests, land and water and is auctioning off massive coal fields for commercial mining by his capitalist cronies including the notorious Gautam Adani! MODI MUST RESIGN!

8. Violation of the democratic electoral process

No election held since Narendra Modi came to power has been free and fair. Elections have been occasions for scapegoating Muslims, tampering with ballot boxes and EVMs and more recently for lethal violence. In the West Bengal assembly elections earlier this year, armed police controlled by the Central government sprayed bullets on people queueing to vote – killing four and injuring many others. This is the state of India’s ‘democracy’ under the Modi regime! MODI MUST RESIGN!

9. Criminal mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic

Last, but certainly not least, Modi is responsible for the enormous and preventable death toll from Covid-19. The initial lockdown at four hour’s notice led to acute distress and an unknown number of deaths for hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who were left stranded in cities far away from their homes with no means of sustenance and forced to walk home. More recently the second wave of Covid -19 has devastated the country with an estimated four million deaths. This is a result of Modi’s callous negligence and gross incompetence, including the sanctioning of ‘superspreader’ events such as the Kumbh Mela and his own party’s mass roadshows during the West Bengal elections, and the prioritizing of ‘superprofits’ from vaccines by his corporate cronies. Modi has demonstrated that for him, consolidating power is more important than saving lives. These are crimes against humanity! MODI MUST RESIGN!

10. Far-right Hindu supremacists in the UK do not speak for us!

Currently the right-wing UK government ministers Priti Patel, Rishi Sunak and Alok Sharma are all acolytes of Modi, and the HSS (the international wing of the openly fascist RSS, of which Modi is a lifelong member) and other Hindu-supremacist organisations are actively spreading hate in the UK. They claim Modi has the support of the diaspora. But they do not speak in our name. MODI MUST RESIGN!

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