THE CITIZEN BUREAU | 20 JANUARY, 2018
Rally and March for Indian Dalit Rights in London
Indian High Commission refuses to accept memorandum to President of India for action
LONDON: Braving the cold and the rain, hundreds marched in protest against the Bhima-Koragaon violence against Dalits. The rally began at Parliament Square, Westminister with the protestors from different organisations in the UK marching to the Indian High Commission to present a memorandum for the President of India Ram Nath Kovind.
The Indian High Commission reportedly did not accept the memorandum to the President stating it was acting as per government instructions.
Representatives of UK's key Dalit organisations, together with progressive South Asian organisations also demanded the release of Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar. And action against Union Minister Anant Kumar Hegde for his remarks on Dr B.R. Ambedkar along with the “threat to do away with the Constitution altogether”.
Carrying banners for equality and rights, the protestors presented the memorandum for President Kovind demanding:
1.Bring the men who planned the violence at Bhima-Koregaon, Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ebute to justice, they must not be spared simply because they are Hindutva leaders and as such are members of the Hindu supremacist Sangh Parivar to which the ruling BJP belongs.
2.Release the thousands of Dalits arrested in Maharashtra in the first fortnight of January immediately, drop the charges against them and launch a transparent public inquiry into the events of January 1st and 2nd.
3. Immediately release Chandrashekhar Azad, the leader of the Bhim Army, the Uttar Pradesh based Dalit Human Rights organisation! His continued incarceration is a travesty of justice.
4. We, UK's Dalits and progressive South Asians are outraged by Union Minister Anant Kumar Hegde's insult to Dr Ambedkar and his claim that the BJP is in government to change the Constitution. We note that neither the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, nor you, Mr President, have condemned these remarks or rebuked Anant Kumar Hegde We urge you to do so immediately.
The coordinator of the march on behalf of Dr Ambedkar Memorial Committee of Great Britain Satpal Muman said,' Mr Ram Nath Kovind President of India, is a Dalit and is perceived as such. He is in a position to understand the plight of Dalits who are daily facing upper-caste violence. We are urging him to ensure exemplary punishment according to the law for all those guilty of inflicting violence against Dalits at Bhima-Koregaon' ; and to take immediate and concrete steps to curb the rise of Hindu fundamentalism which is currently threatening the democratic fabric of India. '
Mr Keval Bharadia of South Asia Solidarity Group one of co-organisers of the demonstration said: 'India is turning into a republic of fear and violence, where mob-lynching by Hindu supremacist forces is a common occurrence. The descent into fascism has meant a horrific increase in attacks on Dalits - but the President, Mr Ram Nath Kovind, a Dalit himself, is silent. We urge him to speak out and stem this tide of violence.'
The South Asia Solidarity Group will be organising a candlelight vigil in London on India’s Republic Day, January 26.