PRESS RELEASE: Public Meeting, ‘Resisting Fascism in India; Countering UK Hindutva’; 15 August 2018

South Asia Solidarity Group and SOAS India Society marked India’s 72nd Independence Day with a packed meeting titled ‘Resisting Fascism in India; Countering UK Hindutva’.

Sajjad Hassan, convenor of Citizens Against Hate Platform, India discussed mob lynching and the systematic targeting of Muslims, Christians and Dalits and the impunity enjoyed by those involved in these murderous attacks, as well the open support for the perpetrators demonstrated by government figures at the highest level. He pointed out that violence had been ‘outsourced’ by the State with the cow vigilante groups being given actual licences in a number of states. He highlighted the way legislation on ‘cow protection’ is being used by the police to bring counter charges against victims of lynching and deter witnesses to the murders and attacks from testifying. He emphasised the climate of fear within which the families of victims are still courageously fighting for justice.

Satpal Muman, Chair of CasteWatch UK, spoke about huge rise in attacks against Dalits since the BJP government came to power. He described the recent burning of the Indian Constitution by Hindutva organisations as the police looked on, the hostility to Ambedkar and desire on the part of the Hindu Right to replace the Constitution with the misogynist and caste-based laws of Manu; and the activities of Hindutva supporters in UK – particularly with respect to the law against Caste discrimination. He noted that it has been acknowledged that instrumental in the UK government’s decision to repeal the legislation was the intervention of people in the UK very close to Modi. He said CasteWatchUK’s campaign to outlaw caste discrimination in UK was ‘unfinished business’.

The meeting was chaired by Kalpana Wilson of South Asia Solidarity Group.

The speeches were followed a lively discussion which covered issues such as why the current phase differed from earlier episodes of communal violence in India, the government’s claims on women’s empowerment and its own Ministers’, MPs’ and MLAs’ shocking record on gender violence, and how we can effectively counter the influence of Hindutva groups in Britain.

The meeting ended with some inspiring revolutionary songs by Sameer Rahat.

Following the meeting a series of tweets by Prakash Shah, Reader in Law at Queen Mary University of London who had also decided to attend the meeting, revealed the shocking mind set of UK Hindutva’s main academic spokesperson. For example, in an openly Islamophobic tweet, he described SOAS as ‘unashamedly resembling a Madrasa’ and in another he referred to those who had been killed in mob lynchings in India as ‘cow-smugglers and thieves’ – criminals, not ‘ordinary citizens’, implicitly justifying their summary execution by mobs.

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