As the groundbreaking ceremony of the Ram temple in UP’s Ayodhya took place on August 5--28 years years after the demolition of the Babri Masjid that stood at the same spot--many groups including Indian diaspora gathered at Times Square in New York to protest against the ceremony performed by PM Narendra Modi.
The protesters opposed the celebrations reportedly organised by American Indian Public Affairs Committee [said to be associated with BJP and RSS] at Times Square.
The Wire reported that both the groups raised slogans, trying to drown out the other, and vocally declared their support and opposition to the bhoomi pujan ceremony.
It should be noted that the date selected for bhumi poojan coincided with the one-year anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370 that stripped the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir of its special status. The government had also imposed a brutal lockdown on the region, depriving it of all modes of communication and arresting several political leaders in what was seen as an attempt at suppressing dissent.
Referring to the gathering at Times Square, a statement by a collective called ‘Coalition to Stop Genocide in India’ said, “For some who had gathered to celebrate the construction of the Ram Temple in India on the ruins of the Babri Mosque, the protests were a reminder that normalizing hate and bigotry would not go unchallenged in the US. The Babri Mosque was demolished by Hindutva supremacist forces in India in 1992, based on a campaign of hate, bigotry against the country’s Muslim minority, and misinformation about the mosque's origins. This is part of a larger and sustained campaign of historical revisionism that Hindutva relies on, in order to advance its virulent worldview.”
The statement said that the coalition comprises of over a dozen organisations including Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Coalition Against Fascism in India, Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), Boston Coalition, Organization for Minorities in India (OFMI), South Asia Solidarity Initiative, Ambedkar Association of North America (AANA), Ambedkar King Study Circle (AKSC), Council for Minority Rights in India (CMRI), Guru Ravidas Sabha, Periyar International USA, Ambedkar International Mission Society, Canada, Students Against Hindutva Ideology (SAHI), and International Soceity for Peace and Justice.
The Coalition noted that it is alarming that an ideology that shows complete disregard for the value of human life, and the sanctity of all places of worship, is boasting of its evil deeds in India in the heart of New York City, “which is so representative of our diversity and inclusiveness as Americans”.
The statement quoted Brad Lander, a member of New York City Council as saying, “As a New Yorker, and as a progressive Jew, I stand with our Muslim neighbours, here in NYC and those in Kashmir and throughout India who are facing nationalist and Islamophobic hatred and violence.”
“The celebration of Ram temple by the Hindutva brigade and its Indian-American followers is a celebration of power: the power to hate and hurt with impunity, to aggressively gloat over Indian Muslims and others who cherish our pluralistic society,” said Ania of Coalition against Fascism in India (CAFI). “Choosing August 5 to celebrate is a new act of aggression against the Kashmiris. We reject this cynical use of religion to entrench hate and kill India democracy,” she added as per the statement.
Read the full statement bellow.
Times Square Protest PR by Newsclick on Scribd
Also read: Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi: Can this Nation Turn Back the Clock?