Thousands of diasporic Indians and students demonstrate in London against the rise of fascism in India

LONDON 25 January: In a powerful condemnation of the Modi government’s descent into fascism and support for the protests which are rocking India more than 2000 people from diverse and multi-faith Indian communities across the UK together with Indian students demonstrated in London, today, 25th January, the eve of India’s Republic Day.

At a rally outside 10 Downing Street from 1.00pm to 2.30pm, speaker after speaker called for the repeal of India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which undermines India’s secular Constitution, and the abolition of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR). Labour MP for Ilford South, Sam Tarry speaking at the protest noted that this was not an anti-Indian demonstration but in fact pro-Indian. 4 other Labour MPs sent messages of support they included Clive Lewis (MP for Norwich South), Rupa Huq(MP for Ealing), Stephen Timms (MP for East Ham) and Nadia Whitthome (MP Nottingham East), UK’s youngest MP, who said, extending her solidarity, particularly to Muslims and Dalits in India who were facing extreme violence and the people of Kashmir: ‘Some will characterise these movements for democracy as “anti-India”. But this is part of a global fight against the far-right – whether in India, Hungary, Brazil, or here in the UK. In South Asia and the diaspora, we can only overcome the politics of division by banding together on what unites us: aspirations for a good standard of living, a decent wage, safety, and a world in which our children can breathe clean air’.

Sarbjit Johal on behalf of South Asia Solidarity Group one of the organising groups said that with the Modi government taking ‘a massive step toward ethnic cleansing of Muslims, we, in the diaspora, stand with the united mass resistance led by women and students which is spreading across India in the face of unspeakable violence from the police and right-wing gangs sponsored by the government’. She added that the protest ‘exposes once and for all the myth that Modi can rely on unquestioning support from the diaspora’.

Shaheen Moidunny (Coordinating Committee of Malayali Muslims) told the protest that ‘The CAA and NRC are laws reflecting a genocide in the making, by a right wing government whose declared aim has been the annihilation of Muslims in India’ , while Satpal Muman of Caste Watch UK, the largest Dalit organisation in Britain, said he was ‘appalled that under the CAA, NRC, and NPR whether someone is a citizen or not will ultimately be judged by a Hindu fundamentalist government which has already overseen an epidemic of mob-lynching of Muslims and atrocities against Dalits’. Shamsuddin Agha of the Indian Muslim Federation said that ‘The foundation of India, its secular Constitution, is being eroded.We cannot let a repeat of 1935 Fascist Germany happen in the world’s largest democracy! There was also a message from well-known anti-war activist and writer Tariq Ali. He said he shared the sentiment from a banner carried in a demonstration a week ago: “Thank you Modi for uniting Hindus and Muslims”.

The rally opposite 10 Downing Street was joined by a large contingent of students from the SOAS India Society and South Asian Students Against Fascism, who along with Brazilian anti-Fascists had marched from an earlier protest at the Brazilian Embassy, against the Modi government’s invitation to Jair Bolsonaro as the chief guest at India’s Republic Day. A Spokesperson for SOAS India Society commented told the demonstration that ‘fascism today is a truly global problem. Leaders like Jair Bolsonaro and Narendra Modi draw tactical and moral support from each other’

The rally also heard messages from the Stop the War Coalition, trade unions and representatives of anti-fascist movements in Brazil, Sudan, and elsewhere.

Following the rally the demonstrators marched to the Indian High Commission where they delivered an open letter to Narendra Modi which expressed their ‘outrage at India’s descent into open fascism’ The letter (see attached) called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to repeal the Citizenship (Amendment) Act because ‘In conjunction with the NRC (which has already made 2 million people in Assam stateless by demanding documents to prove Indian citizenship) and the NPR which will potentially allow arbitrary revocation of citizenship, the CAA will lead to the selective mass disenfranchisement of Muslims, because most non-Muslims caught in the snare of the NRC will be offered citizenship as refugees under the CAA. We note with alarm that historically mass disenfranchisement of a targeted minority has been closely followed by ethnic cleansing and genocide.’
The demonstration is a part of a global two days of action against India’s new, discriminatory and unconstitutional laws and other measures to change the basis of Indian citizenship

* List of organising groups: South Asia Solidarity Group, CasteWatch UK, Coordinating Committee of Malayali Muslims, SOAS India Society, Tamil People in the UK, Indian Workers Association (GB), Indian Muslim Federation(UK), Federation of Redbridge Muslim Organisations (FORMO), Kashmir Solidarity Movement, South Asian Students Against Fascism , Newham Muslim Alliance; Ghadar International, and others.