As PM Modi addressed the Indian diaspora at the ‘Howdy, Modi’ mega event in Houston, Texas, thousands of people gathered outside the venue in a protest, reported Houston Press.
Most people taking part in the protest were there under the coalition of Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA). They were joined by Khalistani and Kashmiri separatists.
The AJA has been critical of a number of the Modi government’s policies, like the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir and the detention of those declared foreigners in the National Register of Citizens exercise.
They have also been vocal against Hindutva, the rising number of lynchings, and India’s treatment of minorities.
They had earlier held a press meet at the office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Houston, with speakers from participating organisations like Hindus for Human Rights, Blacks Lives Matter, the Indian American Muslim Council, Dalit Solidarity Group and other individual speakers like south Asia analyst Pieter Friedrich.
WHO ARE THESE PROTESTERS
The Alliance for Justice and Accountability, a loose coalition of civil society organisations and NGOs, said in a statement on Saturday,
“We are a bona fide group of Indian Americans with roots in India, and not connected with any other nationality or separatist causes. We have one and only one agenda: to expose the undemocratic, anti-people and anti-minorities agenda of Mr Modi’s government and BJP party.”Alliance for Justice and Accountability Statement
Hindus for Human Rights co-founder Sunita Viswanath said, “We are horrified that our religion which teaches vasudaiva kutumbakam is being hijacked by extremists and nationalists,” adding, “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.”
“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,” Viswanathan said.
Syed Ali, of the Indian American Muslim Council, (IAMC) – the largest registered organisation to participate in the protests – acknowledged a proliferation of separatists groups at the protests, but said they did not have AJA’s endorsement.
“We support the Kashmiris, the minorities and Dalits. This is a free country where everyone is allowed to protest, but AJA has a larger agenda of countering Hindutva.”Syed Ali, IAMC, at the press briefing
Despite the thousands of protesters likely to show up on 22 September, the NRG stadium itself will be packed out by 50,000 people, largely from the Indian diaspora, all pumped to see PM Modi deliver his third and biggest address to them in the US.
(With inputs from Houston Press)