Thursday, September 17, 2015

US-based anti-Modi alliance declares it will hold protest against PM during community reception at San Jose

By Our Representative
Flutter in the Indian American community in the US around Prime Minister Narendra Modi's upcoming visit to the the US, especially Silicon Valley on September 27, 2015, has intensified, following the Alliance for Justice And Accountability (AJA) – a broad coalition of progressive organizations – declaring that it will hold a campaign to hold Modi “accountable” for past and present attacks on the freedoms and human rights of Indian communities.
As many as 125 left-liberal academics from across the US, associated with the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), in August-end came down heavily on what they called “uncritical fanfare being generated over Modi’s visit to Silicon Valley to promote Digital India on September 27, 2015.”
Among those who have signed the statement include Wendy Doniger, Professor of the History of Religions, University of Chicago, who shot into prominence after her book, “The Hindus” was withdrawn from circulation in India by the Penguins following a saffron objection, and Ania Loomba, Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania, who in March 2013 organized a campaign to stop Modi's address to Wharton India Economic Forum.
The academics' protest led right-wing American Indian academics, many of them engineers, to sign up another statement declaring their support to Modi's Silicon Valley, saying the there was no cause of concern for Modi's 'Digital India' campaign.
Broadly comprising of Indian-American organizations and individuals who were part of Coalition Against Genocide (CAG), which had successfully campaigned against US visa to Modi, when he was the Gujarat Chief Minister, the AJA declared it would hold “a protest at SAP Center on September 27, 2015 under the banner #ModiFail, to expose the realities behind Modi's alleged accomplishments.” Modi is expected to address an Indian community reception at the Center, situated in San Jose, California.
“The AJA will also reach out to elected officials and corporate leaders in the US to inform them about Modi's failed and regressive policies that negatively impact human rights, religious freedoms, the environment, and overall: shrink the space for civil liberties under his rule”, AJA statement reads, recalling, Modi was banned by successive US administrations from entering the United States, for his role in the 2002 Gujarat massacres, “in which nearly 2,000 people were killed.”
“With his Silicon Valley visit, Modi's supporters plan to hold a rock star reception aimed at rehabilitating his image as a pogrom-tainted politician. According to news reports, Silicon Valley corporations wanting to do business in India have been asked to contribute towards an $800,000 fund for the event at the SAP Center”, AJA says.
Ever since Modi came to power, “India has seen a dramatic rise in mass violence against Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Dalits and other marginalized communities while Hindu nationalist militias responsible for that violence are being granted impunity from prosecution at the highest levels of government”, the statement says.
“The Modi administration has led a campaign against environmental and human rights groups across India. Since coming to power, Modi has blocked funding for over 13,000 nonprofits, attempting to shut down environmental groups like Greenpeace, 350.org, and the Sierra Club. His administration has even issued an ordinance banning the use of the phrase 'human rights' in the names of NGOs”, the statement points out.
.Coming down heavily on Modi's Digital India campaign, the statement says, “Modi's government has been actively censoring internet access and activity, with a unilateral blocking of websites, including that of GitHub, Vimeo, and the Internet Archive, while also trying to revive the online censorship law struck down by India's Supreme Court in March. The government has also increased its censorship of the Indian media.”

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