Indian diaspora protest against University of Toronto
The recent protest against the New Democratic leader Jagmeet Singh in Burnaby, and the attempts to stop a conference on Hindutva, are nothing but pressure tactics by the supporters of the ruling right-wing Hindutva nationalist BJP government in New Delhi to suppress voices of opposition internationally.
The self-styled defenders of Hindu religion have come together in Canada and US to make everyone believe that the community is under threat of growing “Hinduphobia”, a term coined to counterweight Islamophobia, that is real and represents deeply entrenched racism against the followers of Islam, especially in the post 9/11 scenario.
What precipitated the ongoing protests is a February incident involving Singh’s close relative in Ontario and the proposed “Dismantling Hindutva Conference” being cosponsored by more than 50 universities.
Singh’s brother-in-law assaulted a Hindu and used offensive language against his religion. The video has already gone viral. This happened during a Tiranga (Tricolour) car rally held by the pro-India activists, infuriating the supporters of the agitating farmers in India. The organisers of the rally were celebrating Indian nationalism by fluttering the country’s flag in the face of those outraged over the mistreatment of farmers camping near New Delhi since November last against the unjust farming laws that are going to affect the livelihood of people living in rural India. Canada has witnessed country-wide demonstrations in solidarity with Indian farmers. Singh and other political leaders were also forced to make statements denouncing undemocratic ways of the BJP government.
Those who held protests outside Singh’s constituency office in Burnaby complained that he has remained indifferent to the incident, thus inciting hatred against Hindus.
Though Singh often talks about Love and Courage, and has confronted white supremacists without losing temper, he somehow failed to address this issue effectively. That said, the people who are going after him, never challenged the outright racist white political figures in Canada and yet accuse Singh of being a bigot.
While, Singh needs to be made accountable for what his relatives uttered and did, there is a need to look at the broader picture. These Tiranga rallies were offensive in the first place as they were clearly aimed at discrediting the supporters of Indian farmers and instigating them. There is a reason to believe that they are being patronised by the Indian diplomats who are upset over the bad press the BJP government has received in this part of the world. It is not difficult to find these connections if the Canadian intelligence looks deeper into the situation.
Singh’s ascendance to the national leadership also faced barriers created by this lobby group as he was denied Indian visa for raising the issue of Sikh Genocide of 1984 in the past and people were discouraged from signing members during his race by those owing loyalty to the Indian state.
Secondly, calling Singh Hinduphobic is itself problematic, as there is no such trend suggesting ongoing persecution of Hindus in Canada. It is just a figment of imagination and an attempt to divert people’s attention from what has been going on with Muslims in India. The attacks on Muslims and other religious minorities have grown in that country ever since the BJP came to power with a huge majority in 2014. BJP’s Islamophobia remains undeniable and has become more apparent with the constant growth of its supporters around the world.
It is for this reason, that a “Dismantling Global Hindutva” conference is being planned from September 10-12. However, the supporters of the BJP in Canada are calling it anti-Hindu and Hinduphobic as well. It is necessary to make it clear that Hindutva is political Hinduism-based on the philosophy of an exclusionist Hindu State, and cannot be confused with Hinduism. It is the bedrock of the BJP’s brand of religion and politics. To challenge Hindutva does not make one anti-Hindu. But those in power in New Delhi and their agents and apologists in Canada are trying to shun any dialogue on this menace which has made the lives of minorities in India difficult. In fact, the founders of Hindutva were racists who glorified Hitler and justified Jewish holocaust. So on what basis they are calling others bigots and Hinduphobic?
These incidents only indicate the sheer desperation of the BJP followers in North America, and they must not be given any legitimacy. Rather they need to be exposed for spreading hatred, lies and misinformation.
*Views expressed are the author’s own.
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