SAN JOSE, California, USA—This past weekend saw over 3,000 protesters from various communities come together to express their distrust with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sikhs, Dalits, Muslims, Christians, LGBT activists and Adivasi (aboriginal) rights groups collectively put together a protest from 4 PM to 7 PM. The entire back side of the SAP Center was occupied by passionate crowds of protesters who greeted Narendra Modi and his supporters with with loud slogans.
The process to unwelcome Modi started at least a months ago as a California based organization, the Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA) installed billboards across major highways in the Bay Area. The billboards helped raise much awareness of crimes against various Indian communities by the Government. The same organization also organized a very successful #ModiFail campaign over social media to expose Modi’s policies. AJA also launched the “Zuck, Wash Your Hands Campaigns”, where they sent hundreds of hand sanitizer bottles to Mark Zuckerberg so he could wash off the stain after shaking hands with Narendra Modi, who was accused of presiding over the killings of about 2,000 Muslims in 2002.
With many communities coming together this past weekend, there were many themes. An elderly lady, Gurmeet Kaur who had come from Fremont with a sign asking Modi to go back home said that the Indian Prime Minister is responsible for illegally taking over lands of over 2,000 Sikh farmers in Gujarat. She also held Modi equally responsible for the 1984 invasion of Darbar Sahib in Amritsar by the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at that time. “LK Advani, a senior BJP leader, had incited Gandhi to attack our holiest shrine.,” she added.
Sikhs for Justice, an advocacy group that has followed Modi and other Indian leaders during their visits to North America was too present at the SAP Center. SFJ activists held placards and distributed pamphlets asking for a referendum in 2020 for establishment of a separate Sikh state. Bhajan Singh, of Organization for Indian Minorities (OFMI) was surprised and delighted by such a big turnout. He stated that protesters had come from as far as Los Angeles and Yuba City to express their dissent.
Several protesters blamed Modi supporters for attacking and instigating violence at the protest. Sikh24 had earlier posted that Modi supporters who had come to the event with picture of Sri Darbar Sahib later tore it in front of the protesters. Jasmeet Kaur, another Sikh woman from the Bay Area stated that Modi supporters should at least recognize the religious sentiments of various communities. She said that we were protesting against an oppressive regime, not the Hindus, nor the Indians. Pieter Friedrich, a American Christian, who too had come to protest against Modi stated that he was assaulted by Modi supporters at least twice.
Many protesters shed tears as they saw activists lay on the flood with blood on their clothes, representing the Babri Masjid tragedy.