South Asian Contrast: Ayodhya and Kartarpur

November 9, 2019 will go down in South Asian history as a day of sharp contrasts: While Pakistan restored and opened Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur for Sikh pilgrims, the Indian Supreme Court ordered the construction of a Hindu temple on the site where Babri Masjid stood for centuries. Can India and its western apologists still claim to have shared values?

Shared Values:

At a congressional hearing on the Capitol Hill in Washington in October, 2019, American Congresswoman Ilhan Omar asked Ms. Alice Wells, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, the following pertinent question:

"Kashmiris have been restricted from communicating outside their country for 50+ days. In Assam, almost 2 million people are being asked to prove their citizenship. This is how the Rohingya genocide started. At what point do we question whether PM Modi shares our values?"

The question of shared values has been forcefully answered in the negative by the Indian Supreme Court in its Ayodhya verdict. This judgement by India's apex court has rewarded the criminal acts of Hindu Nationalists by ordering the construction of Ram Temple on the land where centuries-old Mughal-era Babri Masjid was destroyed in 1992.

Mr. Modi's actions and Indian Supreme Court's acquiescence have forced Financial Times's Gideon Rachman to conclude that  "India’s Narendra Modi has had a free pass from the west for too long". And Ed Luce, also from Financial Times, has written as follows: "During my session (at Bangalore Literary Festival) I was asked about the biggest threat to the future of global liberal democracy. My answer was Narendra Modi".

The only shared values between Washington and New Delhi are those of President Trump and Prime Minister Modi. Both leaders share hatred of minorities, particularly Muslims and  immigrants.

Kartarpur Corridor:

Pakistan restored and opened Gurdwara Darbar Sahib and signed an agreement with India to open a visa-free corridor for Indian Sikh pilgrim to visit the shrine on Baba Guru Nanak's 550th birthday.

Prime Minister Modi also wants to take credit for the corridor to attempt to show that he is not against minorities. But the fact is that Prime Minister Imran Khan left Modi little choice but to go along by making Kartarpur Sahib reality in record time.

Hindu Temples in Pakistan:

Pakistan Supreme Court recently took suo moto action to protect ancient Katas Raj temple in Chakwal district. The temple has a water pond that has been drying up due to falling water table in the region. The Supreme Court has ordered local officials to come up with a plan to restore the water pond to restrict ground water withdrawal by industries and farms to maintain the pond considered holy by Hindus.

Pakistan has also opened a 1,000-year-old Hindu temple in Sialkot for puja for the first time since partition in response to demand by the local Hindu community, according to media reports. In addition, Pakistan is restoring and reopening 400 Hindu temples across the country.

Indian Muslims:

While the actions of Prime Minister Modi's government have caused a great deal of concern among Muslims for their future in India, Indian Supreme Court's Ayodhya verdict has shown that the institutions of Indian democracy are surrendering to the the growing power of Hindu Nationalists. Indian Muslim journalist Rana Ayub has summed up their fears in her Washington Post column as follows:

"Muslims in India fear that this would indeed be the beginning of reimagining India with Muslims as second-class citizens as envisaged by right-wing supremacists. A resounding message has been sent to the more than 200 million Muslims in the country that they must bear every humiliation and injustice with the silence expected of an inferior citizenry. I and millions of my co-religionists have been made to feel like an orphan yet again in the land we have loved, cherished and called our own. A land whose liberation from the British was fought by revolutionaries and freedom fighters that included our own forefathers. I wonder if that cherished freedom holds any meaning in the new India that seeks to erase my legacy and my existence".

Jinnah was right:

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah saw the threat posed to Muslim interests by Hindu majoritarianism in India as far back as 1938.  Speaking to the Muslim League in the Central Legislative Assembly, he set out his stance of permanent majorities and minorities as follows:

 “From the first contact it is not a democratic majority in the seven Congress provinces [that came to power after the 1937 election]. It is not a democratic majority that has formed the Government and is carrying on; it is the permanent Hindu majority which cannot be altered by any change whatsoever and therefore it is the travesty of the system which may be worthwhile in England. But when it is planted here, you see, that it is a failure. What is the result – the permanent Hindu majority and the ministry that is a Hindu ministry.”

Summary:

While Pakistan is trying to make amends by promoting religious freedoms for minorities, Prime Minister Modi's India is turning into a Hindu Rashtra by making Muslims second-class citizens. Yet, India's western apologists are still promoting the idea of strategic partnership based on shared values. Mr. Modi's actions and Indian Supreme Court's acquiesce have forced Financial Times's Gideon Rachman to conclude that "India’s Narendra Modi has had a free pass from the west for too long".

Here are video clips of US Congress's Hearing on Kashmir held on Oct 22, 2019:

https://youtu.be/nMrydKhvi9M

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Comment by Riaz Haq on November 16, 2019 at 11:00am

‘Homophobic, misogynist and a bigot’ — meet #Modi's #Brazilian friend Jair Bolsonaro, #India’s Republic Day chief guest. #Islamophobia #Racism #Hate #Misogeny #Hindutva #BJP https://theprint.in/world/homophobic-misogynist-and-a-bigot-meet-ja... via @ThePrintIndia

When Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro accepted India’s invitation earlier this week to be a chief guest at the upcoming 71st Republic Day, the Narendra Modi government was faced with some acerbic criticism.

While some argued that New Delhi was inviting a “far-Right bigot” for the celebrations, others said the government was repeating a its “mistake” of calling a group of largely Right-wing European parliamentarians to visit Jammu and Kashmir recently.

Critics of the central government’s decision also have a robust set of evidence to back their claims.

In 1999, Bolsonaro had called for the assassination of former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Again, in 2003, he had told a fellow female legislator that he won’t rape her because she “doesn’t deserve it”.

His offensive comments have been steadfast. In 2011, Bolsonaro said he would rather have his son die in an accident than come out as a homosexual. And as recently as 2017, the president had remarked that “a policeman who doesn’t kill isn’t a policeman”.

Such statements have also created an impression that Bolsonaro is part of the global nationalist-populist wave. But to look at him from such as lens is only a reductive exercise.

“The Bolsonaros (Jair and his sons) are above all a Brazilian phenomenon, a product of not only the country’s severe economic, institutional and criminal crises since 2014, but also of its successes in the decade prior,” wrote Brian Winter, editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 2, 2019 at 8:16pm

Narendra Modi’s India
The Prime Minister’s Hindu-nationalist government has cast two hundred million Muslims as internal enemies.
By Dexter Filkins

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/12/09/blood-and-soil-in-nar...

“Modi was a fascist in every sense” - Ashis Nandy - a trained psychologist, wanting to study the mentality of Hindu nationalists, interviewed Modi when he was young.

In 1925, K. B. Hedgewar, a physician from central India, founded the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, an organization dedicated to the idea that India was a Hindu nation, and that Hinduism’s followers were entitled to reign over minorities. Members of the R.S.S. believed that many Muslims were descended from Hindus who had been converted by force, and so their faith was of questionable authenticity. (The same thinking applied to Christians, who make up about two per cent of India’s population. Other major religions, including Buddhism and Sikhism, were considered more authentically Indian.)

---
The R.S.S.’s original base was higher-caste men, but, in order to grow, it had to widen its membership. Among the lower-caste recruits was an eight-year-old named Narendra Modi, from Vadnagar, a town in the state of Gujarat. Modi belonged to the low-ranking Ghanchi caste, whose members traditionally sell vegetable oil; Modi’s father ran a small tea shop near the train station, where his young son helped. When Modi was thirteen, his parents arranged for him to marry a local girl, but they cohabited only briefly, and he did not publicly acknowledge the relationship for many years. Modi soon left the marriage entirely and dedicated himself to the R.S.S. As a pracharak—the group’s term for its young, chaste foot soldiers—Modi started by cleaning the living quarters of senior members, but he rose quickly. In 1987, he moved to the R.S.S.’s political branch, the Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P.

When Modi joined, the Party had only two seats in parliament. It needed an issue to attract sympathizers, and it found one in an obscure religious dispute. In the northern city of Ayodhya was a mosque, called Babri Masjid, built by the Mughal emperor Babur in 1528. After independence, locals placed Hindu idols inside the mosque and became convinced that it had been built on the former site of a Hindu temple. A legend grew that the god Ram—an avatar of Vishnu, often depicted with blue skin—had been born there.

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According to FactChecker, an organization that tracks communal violence by surveying media reports, there have been almost three hundred hate crimes motivated by religion in the past decade—almost all of them since Modi became Prime Minister. Hindu mobs have killed dozens of Muslim men. The murders, which are often instigated by Bajrang Dal members, have become known as “lynchings,” evoking the terror that swept the American South after Reconstruction. The lynchings take place against a backdrop of hysteria created by the R.S.S. and its allies—a paranoid narrative of a vast majority, nearly a billion strong, being victimized by a much smaller minority.

When Muslims are lynched, Modi typically says nothing, and, since he rarely holds press conferences, he is almost never asked about them. But his supporters often salute the killers. In June, 2017, a Muslim man named Alimuddin Ansari, who was accused of cow trafficking, was beaten to death in the village of Ramgarh. Eleven men, including a local leader of the B.J.P., were convicted of murder, but last July they were freed, pending appeal. On their release, eight of them were met by Jayant Sinha, the B.J.P. Minister for Civil Aviation. Sinha, a Harvard graduate and a former consultant for McKinsey & Company, draped the men in marigold garlands and presented them with sweets. “All I am doing is honoring the due process of law,” he said at the time.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 6, 2019 at 7:11am

The below via Basharat Ali and so very true! A few years ago Indians came out of the streets by the hundreds of thousands as part of "India against Corruption." Where are those teaming masses now???? "India against Fascism" anybody? Not worthwhile to get off your couches?
 ·
""Article 35A and 370 are read down from the Constitution. Indian liberals: the decision poses a threat to Indian democracy. Yet the decision is received with mass acceptance and people are asked to move on.

The land in Ayodhya is given to Hindus for the construction of a mandir where a mosque stood for centuries. Indian liberals: the decision poses a threat to Indian secularism. Muslims are asked to bury the past and move on.

Accused of rape, four people are killed in an encounter in Hyderabad. Indian liberals: this poses a threat to the independence of investigating agencies. Yet, the police are garlanded and celebrities come out in their support.

It is time that Indians who still think they can go back to the Nehruvian era and flog the dead horse called "the Idea of India" accept the "New India" as a reality and not an aberration. The fact that people accept what is happening around them and move on is the reason why Modi is ruling this country. The transformation of India into a Hindu Rashtra has happened long back. But the Indian liberals would still cry: no, we won't let our country become another Pakistan.""

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 6, 2019 at 9:38pm

#India hires Cornerstone as #Washington lobbyist to provide “strategic counsel, tactical planning and govt relations assistance on policy matters before the #US Government, Capitol Hill, state govts, academic institutions and think-tanks. https://politi.co/2LpDxuT via @politico

India’s government has hired Cornerstone Government Affairs on a three-month contract to represent it in Washington. Cornerstone will provide “strategic counsel, tactical planning and government relations assistance on policy matters before the U.S. Government, the U.S. Congress, and select state governments, as well as academic institutions and think-tanks,” according to a copy of the contract filed with the Justice Department. The contract is worth $40,000 a month.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 5, 2020 at 5:05pm

#Pakistan buys more #PalmOil from #Malaysia after #Modi cuts its import. Pak bought 135,000 tons of #Malaysian palm oil last month, a record high. Pakistan bought 1.1 million tons of palm oil from Malaysia last year, while #India bought 4.4 million tons. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/pakistan-pm-imran-khan-says-04340900...

By Krishna N. Das and Joseph Sipalan

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Pakistan will buy more palm oil from Malaysia, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday, aiming to help offset lost sales after top buyer India put curbs on Malaysian imports last month amid a diplomatic row.

India imposed restrictions on refined palm oil imports and informally asked traders to stop buying from Malaysia, the world's biggest producer of the edible oil. Sources said the move was in retaliation for Malaysia's criticism of India's new religion-based citizenship law and its policy on Kashmir.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday that he discussed palm oil with Khan who was on a visit to Malaysia and that Pakistan had indicated it would import more from Malaysia.

"That's right, especially since we noticed India threatened Malaysia for supporting the Kashmir cause, threatened to cut palm oil imports," Khan told a joint news conference, referring to India's Muslim-majority region of Kashmir.

"Pakistan will do its best to compensate for that."

India is a Hindu-majority country while Malaysia and Pakistan are mainly Muslim. India and Pakistan have been mostly hostile to each other since the partition of British India in 1947, and have fought two of their three wars over competing territorial claims in Kashmir.

Pakistan may have bought around 135,000 tonnes of Malaysian palm oil last month, a record high, India-based dealers who track such shipments told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The figure is close to estimates of 141,500 tonnes from Refinitiv, which show sales to India in January may have plunged 80% from a year earlier to 40,400 tonnes.

Malaysia will release official export data on Monday.

Pakistan bought 1.1 million tonnes of palm oil from Malaysia last year, while India bought 4.4 million tonnes, according to the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.

Malaysian palm oil futures rose on Tuesday after Khan's comments and on expectations of a steep drop in production in January.



STRONG TIES

India has repeatedly objected to Mahathir speaking out against its move last year to strip Kashmir's autonomy and make it easier for non-Muslims from neighbouring Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan to gain citizenship.

At the news conference, Mahathir did not refer to Kashmir but Khan did.

"The way you, PM, have stood with us and spoken about this injustice going on, on behalf of Pakistan I really want to thank you," Khan said.

He also said he was sad he had been unable to attend a summit of Muslim leaders in Malaysia in December. Saudi Arabia did not attend the summit, saying it was the wrong forum to discuss matters affecting the world's Muslims and Khan belatedly pulled out.

Some Pakistani officials, unnamed because they were not authorised to speak to the media, said at the time that Khan pulled out under pressure from Saudi Arabia, a close ally, although local media reported his officials denied that was the reason for his absence.

"Unfortunately our friends, who are very close to Pakistan as well, felt that somehow the conference was going to divide the ummah," Khan said, using the Arabic word for the Muslim community but not mentioning Saudi Arabia by name.

"It is clearly a misconception, as that was not the purpose of the conference."



(Reporting by Krishna N. Das and Joseph Sipapalan; additional reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai and Gibran Peshimam in Islamabad; editing by Tom Hogue and Susan Fenton)

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 21, 2020 at 10:37pm

BBC News - #India #coronavirus: Twenty held for stopping funeral of a #Christian doctor who died of #COVID19. Dr Simon Hercules' friends and family were attacked on Sunday night when they took his body to a burial ground in #Chennai (formerly Madras). https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-52364571

At least 20 people have been arrested in south India for violently preventing the burial of a prominent doctor who died of Covid-19.

Dr Simon Hercules' friends and family were attacked on Sunday night when they took his body to a burial ground in Chennai (formerly Madras).

One of his friends had to quietly bury him in the early hours of Monday without any family members present.

He said the neurosurgeon "didn't deserve this end".

"He was not shown even basic humanity. Even his wife and son couldn't be there to say goodbye," Dr Pradeep told the News Minute website.

Local media reported that a mob of about 20 people attacked Dr Hercules' friends and family with sticks and rods. Two ambulance drivers were also injured in the incident.

Police said the people lived near the burial ground and were worried that burying Covid-19 patients in the vicinity would spread the virus.

Dr Pradeep said that Dr Hercules continued to serve during the pandemic instead of staying home, and he most likely got the infection from one of his patients.

Tamil Nadu state Health Minister C Vijayabaskar condemned the incident.

"What happened to that doctor is condemnable. Such things should not happen in the future," he said.

Experts have said that people need to be more aware about the burial rules for Covid-19 patients.

The federal health ministry guidelines say that burying the bodies of coronavirus victims is safe if all precautions are followed.

These include instructions for how bodies should be handled and disposed off. It also defines what kind of rituals can be carried out.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 6, 2020 at 8:15am

#Modi's acolytes have reminded #India's #Muslims just what he thinks of them. An image in #NewYork #TimesSquare celebrated not only the construction of a #Hindu temple but the destruction of a mosque. #BabriMasjid #AyodhyaRamMandir | Siddhartha Deb https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/aug/06/modi-india-mu...

The coronavirus might have been expected to put a halt to Modi’s American fantasies, it being as difficult to leave the United States now as it is to enter India. Nevertheless, this didn’t stop Modi’s Hindu right supporters in the United States – fronted by a group called the American Indian Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – who decided to lease giant screens in Times Square on Wednesday 5 August to display images of the Hindu god Ram and a temple to Ram being inaugurated that day in India by Modi.

There was a demo and a counter-demo and, while the plan to project an image of the proposed temple on the high-profile Nasdaq screen in Times Square did not materialise, one digital board showing the temple aired over the Hershey’s store for a limited part of the day. As their celebration of the temple appeared on a giant screen, the “Indian community” distributed sweets in Times Square. Protests were lodged with the mayor and with the billboard companies by a diverse range of groups, and were apparently successful in preventing the images from being displayed on a majority of the screens, including those on the Nasdaq building, but even the solitary airbrushed image of the Ram temple concealed far more than it revealed.

The temple construction is taking place in the provincial north Indian city of Ayodhya. This demolition was the high point of a long campaign by the Hindu right, so successful in creating an imagined grievance that it turned the BJP from a political oddity to the totalitarian behemoth it is today.


Even before the mosque was demolished, Hindus in India and abroad were asked to donate bricks to build a Ram temple, based on the claim that the mosque stood on the alleged birthplace of Ram. Bricks, some made of gold, arrived from Britain and the United States as well as from thousands of villages and towns in India in response to this campaign. Yet rather than birth, violent death was the true shrine of this campaign. Around 2,000 people died in the spiral of violence set off by the demolition of the mosque; soon the vilification of Muslims had become an everyday affair in India. Even the Gujarat pogroms in 2002 were set off by an incident involving the death of Hindu pilgrims returning to Gujarat from Ayodhya after a celebration of the demolition of the mosque.

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Mussolini confided in his son that one of his nightmares was that he would be put on trial at New York’s Madison Square Garden, in case of capture by the Allies. Narendra Modi’s fantasy was to hold his victory rally there, as he did in September 2014, soon after being elected prime minister of India. Returning triumphantly to the heart of the very empire that denied him a diplomatic visa and revoked his tourist visa for an anti-Muslim pogrom carried out while he was chief minister in Gujarat in 2002, Modi’s presence at Madison Square Garden sparked off the rapturous belligerence of 20,000 supporters. Since then, through events like “Howdy Modi” and “Namaste Trump”, Modi appears to have made America his second home and Donald Trump a buddy, a coming together of civilisations ancient and modern as well as a merger of two failed states with among the highest rates of Covid-19 infection in the world.

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 18, 2020 at 8:24pm

After #BabriMasjid verdict, #ArnabGoswami bail and failure to protect #Indian & #Kashmiri #Muslims' basic #humanrights, #India's Supreme Court is no longer universally regarded as a reliable and impartial defender of constitutional rights. #Hindutva #Modi https://www.ft.com/content/5ddc4de6-90a4-4f18-83b0-0366e50bc67b

by Marina Wheeler

I wonder what they would make of the increasing alarm I hear from my Indian lawyer friends. Each week, it seems, some new outrage amplifies their anxiety that the rule of law in the country is being eroded. Questions are being asked about the impartiality of judgments at all levels of the system. The latest episode involved a decision by the Supreme Court to intervene in the case of Arnab Goswami, a rightwing television news presenter and founder of Republic TV, which is widely seen as supportive of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government. The country’s highest court ordered Mr Goswami — arrested in a suicide case — be released on bail after a lower court refused his petition. On its own, this decision would not have warranted much attention. But critics noted that the court found time to sit over a holiday recess — while many journalists, lawyers, writers and activists critical of the government have been arrested and still languish in jail, awaiting their hearings. Away from the headlines, there is a deeper fear that the justice system itself is failing, under the pressure of political abuse and manipulation. Many Indians revere their constitution, which dexterously balances the rights and aspirations of a hugely diverse population. In its drafting, BR Ambedkar — who was a Dalit, from the lowest caste — kept the minorities and disadvantaged very much in mind. But in Mr Modi’s India, with its rightwing Hindu majority, the protections he crafted seem flimsier than ever. The Goswami decision was not an isolated case. There are other signs that the Supreme Court is no longer universally regarded as a reliable and impartial defender of constitutional rights. In January 2018, four of the court’s judges themselves raised concerns about administrative interference in the assignment of sensitive cases. Last year, the court decided a bitter dispute over a contested religious site at Ayodhya, revered by many Hindus as the birthplace of Lord Ram. In December 1992, a mob tore down a 16th-century mosque on the site. But the court accepted the argument that some kind of structure predated the mosque and sanctioned the construction of a Hindu temple there. Fears that the judgment would be met by rioting were misplaced. Instead, there was resignation from opponents of the decision and celebration from the Hindu right. Increasingly, it feels as though the secular foundations of the republic are being dismantled and that religious minorities, whom the constitution declares equal before the law, are losing their voice. In 1947, the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India as a semi-autonomous state. The constitution protected its special status until August 2019, when Mr Modi’s government revoked it and ordered a clampdown on the region, putting local political leaders under house arrest and closing communications. Meanwhile, nearly 2m mainly Muslims in Assam state have been excluded from a citizens’ register, and in effect declared “irregular foreigners”. Petitions have been filed with the Supreme Court challenging both the citizenship act and repression in Kashmir — but they are as yet unheard.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 10, 2020 at 5:23pm

#Modi's Trudeau tantrum as Trudeau speaks for #Sikhs. Trudeau has become a massive pain in the neck for #India. #Canada has 18 #Sikh members of Parliament, more than India. #Trudeau has boasted that he has more Sikhs in his cabinet (3) than Modi. https://www.wsj.com/articles/india-throws-a-trudeau-tantrum-1160764... via @WSJ

In a failed attempt to stall the farmers, authorities have lobbed tear-gas shells, dug up trenches, erected concrete barriers and deployed water cannons and phalanxes of baton-wielding policemen. Despite several rounds of negotiations with protest leaders, the standoff shows no sign of abating. Farmers have threatened to hunker down for months and to block all traffic to and from the national capital.

Amid a pandemic, recession and border face-off with China, the protests represent the most serious challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi since his re-election last year. More than half of Indians earn a living from agriculture. No government can afford to be seen as hostile to their interests.


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Enter Mr. Trudeau. Speaking over video last month to Canadian Sikhs—many of whom maintain close links with their families in Indian Punjab—the prime minister called the situation in India “concerning.” He asserted that Canada would “defend the right of peaceful protest.”


Founded in the late 15th century in Punjab, Sikhism is the most global of the faiths rooted in India. (Indian Buddhism has dwindled over time.) Boston University’s World Religion Database estimates that about 2.5 million of the world’s 28 million Sikhs live outside India. The Sikh diaspora encompasses dairy farmers in Italy, hoteliers in Kenya, maize farmers in Ethiopia, and policemen in Malaysia. But the largest and most prosperous overseas Sikh communities have sprouted in the Anglosphere: 570,000 in the U.K., 529,000 in Canada, 410,000 in the U.S. and 170,000 in Australia.

In Canada, Sikhs account for only 1.4% of the population, but their concentration in certain districts and close-knit communities give them political clout. Canada has 18 Sikh members of Parliament, more than India. Mr. Trudeau has boasted that he has more Sikhs in his cabinet (three) than Mr. Modi. Both Mr. Trudeau and his predecessor, Stephen Harper, have visited Sikhism’s holiest shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Mr. Trudeau’s Indian critics complain that, in pursuit of the Sikh vote, Mr. Trudeau turns a blind eye to elements in the community that back the creation of a separate Sikh homeland known as Khalistan. In 2017, Mr. Trudeau attended an event that eulogized separatists killed by Indian security forces. And three years ago, a visit to India turned into a PR disaster after a reception for the prime minister included a Canadian Sikh convicted of attempting to murder an Indian Sikh politician.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 10, 2020 at 6:53pm

#India Just Had the Biggest Protest in World History with over 250 million farm workers on strike for 24 hours. This massive people’s movement has gained attention worldwide. #Modi #FarmerBill2020 #Sikh https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/12/india-farmer-protests-m... via @slate

Modi, in his attempt to quietly ease things for agribusiness corporations in the middle of his oppressive pandemic regime, inadvertently sparked the single largest proletariat uprising in world history. And these farmers are pressuring the Modi administration in a way past protesters simply could not. Last week, government officials started meeting with farm union leaders, and they also granted the marchers a designated area of Delhi within which to carry on the protest (although this mandated location is far from the Parliament House). However, many protesters wished to remain at the city border, having brought ample equipment to set up camps along the boundaries wherein the demonstrators can prepare food and organize.

The farmers are demanding nothing less than a full retraction of the laws and say they are willing to remain at the capital’s outskirts until this is done. They also are asking Parliament for other special demands and regulations to keep small farms competitive in the marketplace, according to India Today. The newsmagazine also mentions that “the central government has agreed to work on most of the demands and make them part of the rules—which will need Parliament’s approval—except that of making purchases on [minimum support price] rates mandatory.” Without this last measure, talks with the government have continually stalled and restarted, reaching a deadlock. And on Monday, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar made a show of meeting with a small group of farmers who were mostly BJP supporters in favor of the new law, ignoring the masses outside who were very staunchly opposed to it.


The BJP is now starting to take more drastic, desperate crackdown measures. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that leaders of opposition parties in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh who have supported the farmers’ protest, including Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal, had been barricaded in their homes by police, reportedly under the government’s direction. (Police soon relented in Kejriwal’s case after further protests.)

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