Slam govt apathy over issue; warn of rising intolerance spreading to diaspora worldwide
London, September 8:
Members of the Indian diaspora gathered outside the Indian High Commission here on Friday to protest against the murder of Gauri Lankesh and other political activists and journalists. They also called for an end to government silence on the issue, warning that rising intolerance is spreading to Indian communities in Britain and beyond.
Members of the diaspora groups Indian Workers Association (IWA) and Southall Black Sisters held portraits of Lankesh, who was shot to death outside her home in Bengaluru earlier this week, calling for a thorough investigation and urgent action from the government, and a strong stance condemning the rise in intolerance.
“Our key message is one of solidarity and an end to the intolerance that is on the rise: the killing of people and the attempts to prevent the battle of ideas….But no form of extremism can stop the march of ideas and democracy,” said Harsev Bains of the IWA, which submitted a letter to the High Commissioner on Friday, expressing concerns about the attacks on minorities, and freedom of speech, as well as recent police treatment of protesting farmers.
“My real concern and that of many progressive Indians here is that what is happening in the subcontinent is having an impact on diaspora politics here,” said Pragna Patel, Director of Southall Black Sisters.
“We are seeing a communalisation of the diaspora according to religious lines, very much along the lines of what is happening in India. It’s fragmenting solidarity and pitting neighbours against neighbours,” she said, pointing to the latest developments around efforts in Britain to bring in anti-caste discrimination legislation, which has been strongly opposed by some sections of the diaspora, while strongly supported by others.
“There are so many within the diaspora here that oppose everything they stand for but Hindutva is becoming truly globalised.”
The Indian Journalist Association of Europe (IJA) also expressed concern about the murder of 11 journalists in India in the last 39 months.
“Freedom of expression, which includes the right of newspersons to discharge their duties without fear, is sacrosanct in the Indian Constitution.
“We call upon all concerned authorities in India to bring to book perpetrators of such crimes and to prevent these incidents from occurring in the future,” said IJA President Ashis Ray.
(This article was published on September 8, 2017)