Anti-Modi demo held in Houston ahead of Indian PM’s visit

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Staff Report

Islamabad

Hundreds of Kashmiris, their sympathizers and Indian Americans were gathered in Houston on Sunday to protest Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Houston, Texas to expose the undemocratic, anti-people and anti-minorities agenda of the Modi government and his brutal actions in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

Hindu, Muslim, Dalit, Sikh Community members, and Christian groups under the umbrella of Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA) had joined the rally to expose the undemocratic, anti-people and anti-minorities agenda of the Modi government.

Several US-based civil rights organizations joined the protests. The AJA protest was focus on the Indian Government’s brutal crackdown in Jammu and Kashmir and a communication blackout imposed with internet and cell phone networks suspended.

The protesters made their presence felt with a dress rehearsal along with tractors and trailer trucks decorated with flags and protest slogans.

Earlier, 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.”

“India’s crackdown on Kashmir comes even as violence against India’s social and religious minorities — Muslims, Christians, Dalits and Adivasis — has escalated massively in the five years since Mr. Modi has been prime minister,” the AJA said.

John Sifton, the Asia advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, said it was critical to raise concerns to Modi while he is abroad as, unlike previous Indian prime ministers, he has little back-and-forth interaction with the media.

“He is really in a kind of bubble in Delhi,” Sifton said. “This is a moment for Modi to burst outside of his bubble and hear some criticism of what’s happening in Kashmir.”