Thousands protest against Modi in Houston

Houston: (Ch Mudassar Iqbal): As a mark of disapproval to Modi-led Indian government’s latest actions in occupied Kashmir, thousands staged protest demonstrations and showed flags to the motorcade of US President Donald Trump while he was on his way to join Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the ‘Howdy, Modi’ event in Houston, Texas.

On his way back to the airport after addressing the event, Trump again faced protesters holding flags of Azad Kashmir. Outside the NRG stadium where the mega event took place, protesters including Muslims, Hindus, Dalits, Sikhs and Christians gathered under the umbrella of Alliance for Justice and Accountability to show the world India’s undemocratic, anti-people and anti-minorities face of the Modi government.

Several US-based civil rights organizations also joined the protests. Leading activists participated in the protest included Sarah Philips, Director of Operations at the Asian Desi Pacific Islander American Collective; Prof. Samina Salim of University of Houston; Pawan Singh (OFMI); Rev. Lisa Hunt, Rector at the St. Stevens Episcopal Church; Zach Chatterjee Shlachter (JVP); Daniel Cohen, Professional Communicator with a Deep Love for Advocacy; and Cesar Octavio Executive Director, For Families and Their Education (FIEL).

The protests focused on the Indian government’s brutal crackdown in Jammu and Kashmir where for thousands of Kashmiri Muslims, including minor children, have been incarcerated; hundreds are being tortured by the police and Indian soldiers; and a communication blackout imposed with internet and cell phone networks suspended. Indian troops have also shot at civilian protests, killing at least one person.

Co-Founder Sunita Viswanath said that her organization was joining the protest because Hindus cannot accept human rights violations in the name of Hinduism. “We are horrified that our religion which teaches vasudaiva kutumbakam is being hijacked by extremists and nationalists who are lynching Muslims, trampling on democracy and law and order, and arresting if not murdering those who are speaking out,” Viswanath said. “We are especially appalled by the most recent nightmare of the Kashmiri people, and the situation of 1.9 million people in India who are rendered stateless due to the imposition of the travesty called the National Register of Citizens.