US groups plan protest at Modi event
Various US groups are planning protests on Sunday near the Houston stadium that will host Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s community event and where security will be tight because of the presence of US President Donald Trump.
Groups with different affiliations – Indian-American, Kashmiri, Khalistani and Pakistani are planning separate protests. While the Kashmiri and Pakistani groups will focus on the recent developments in Kashmir, many of the Indian-American groups will under the banner of the Association for Justice and Accountability (AJA) highlight human rights issues.
The AJA includes Hindus for Human Rights a progressive Hindu group that opposes Hindutva the Indian American Muslim Council and the Organisation for Minorities of India.
Several USbased civil rights organisations, including Jewish Voice for Peace and Black Lives Matter, too have announced they will join the AJA’s protest.
Conscious that the media, especially in India, will club their protest with those by other groups, the AJA said in a statement: “We are a bona fide group of Indian Americans with roots in India, and not connected with any other nationality or separatist causes.”
The AJA is also reaching out to the members of the US Congress who are expected to be present at the “Howdy Modi!” event, being organised by Texas India Forum, to reconsider their decision to attend it.
Through social media, people are being encouraged to call up their senators and representatives and have been provided with talking points.
Apart from flagging the Gujarat riots, the issues the AJA is highlighting include the attacks on minorities and Dalits, the modification of Article 370 and the clampdown in Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens and the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill that seeks to make religion a criterion for citizenship.
According to a report in the Houston Chronicle, Modi also faces a federal lawsuit for alleged human rights violations under the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991.
Two US-based Kashmiris have filed the case. Their attorney has been quoted as saying that efforts are on to serve court summons to the Prime Minister before he leaves the Houston stadium or during some of his public events in New York next week.
These events include the awards ceremony at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is under pressure to withdraw its award to Modi.
“The US state department typically intervenes in such cases to ask the judge to grant officials immunity from civil lawsuits,’’ the Houston Chronicle reported.
Singer Diljit Dosanjh’s decision last week to postpone his show in Houston, slated for Saturday and organised by a Pakistani promoter, is being linked to Modi’s diaspora event.
Dosanjh announced the deferment after the Federation of Western India Cine Employees asked the foreign ministry to intervene. But what the organisers apparently feared were plans by the show’s Pakistani promoter, Rehan Siddiqi, to ensure a big gathering of Pakistani Americans in Houston on the same weekend as the Modi event.