London, August 15
Different organisations, including some separatist groups, marked India’s 75th Independence Day on Sunday with a vigil and protest outside the Indian High Commission in London.
Protesters gathered opposite India House in Aldwych area of the city amid a significant presence of Metropolitan Police officers around barricades erected outside the High Commission building for the pre-planned demonstration.
They carried placards reading “Kisan Mazdoor Ekta” and chanted slogans in support of Indian farmers. Some pro-Khalistani banners were also visible in the crowd.
South Asia Solidarity Group, a diaspora-led anti-racist organisation, held a small vigil overnight on Saturday and then staged a stunt in the early hours of Sunday by unfurling a banner reading “Resign Modi” from Westminster Bridge overlooking the Houses of Parliament in London.
“As India’s 75th Independence Day dawns, the country’s secular Constitution lies in tatters. Communal and caste violence stalk the land,” said Mukti Shah from South Asia Solidarity Group, one of the organisers of the stunt.
“Thousands of political prisoners languish in Covid-infected prisons, and hundreds of thousands of people are grieving the loss of their loved ones as a result of the callous negligence and mismanagement of the coronavirus crisis,” she said.
The group also released a statement identifying its 10-point agenda behind the action, including incidents of mob lynching, cases of rape and murder and “mismanagement” of the Covid-19 pandemic in India.
Separately, Indian diaspora-led organisation called The London Story, based in the Netherlands, released the first so-called EU-India People’s Roadmap on Sunday as an assertion of democratic values to mark the Independence Day.
“It is of utmost importance that governments are held accountable towards human rights violations in bilateral and multilateral relations in areas. Human rights must not be interpreted narrowly, but must feature centrally in debates all the way from climate change to complex surveillance,” said Amnesty India’s director Aakar Patel.
The London Story said it had communicated the roadmap to members of the European Parliament’s delegation with India, including Jakop Dalunde; members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, including Alviina Alametsa; members of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, including Maria Arena; Members of the German Parliament, including Omid Nouripour, Deputy Chair of the Germany-India Friendship Group; Members of the Dutch Parliament, including Nilufer Gundogan; and others.
The roadmap enumerates specific action points in the areas of digital democracy, human rights, and climate change.
It calls upon governments to position respect for human rights and human security at the core by incorporating human rights into every clause and also by regularly engaging with civil society through a comprehensive and continued EU-India Human Rights Dialogue. “Given the persecution of dissenting voices in India, we as members of the diaspora and their friends are doing everything, we can to ensure those with political mandates hear what they have to say,” said Ritumbra Manuvie, co-director of The London Story.
The People’s Roadmap is said to be endorsed by representatives of the Indian diaspora resident in the European Union (EU), academics and human rights activists. PTI
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