Protests mark Modi’s visit to No. 10

LONDON: Several hundred demonstrators representing Gujarati, Sikh, Tamil, Kashmiri, Nepali and women’s groups chanted ”Modi go home” and “David Cameron shame shame” as the Indian prime minister was welcomed at about lunchtime on Thursday outside 10 Downing Street. INP

A large number of protesters gathered outside 10 Downing Street, the official residence and office of the British prime minister, on Thursday and chanted slogans against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he arrived for talks with Prime Minister David Cameron.

Protesters representing Gujarati, Sikh, Tamil, Kashmiri, Nepali and women’s groups chanted `Modi Go Home’.

Messages on the banners included “Modi not welcome”, “Stop religious persecution”, and “Remove illegal blockade in Nepal”.

Activists said that Modi’s government is cracking down on religious freedom and the campaigning work of NGOs and civil society organisations.

“An alliance of Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and representatives of the Dalit caste are among those backing the protest. The action has also gathered support from women’s groups, human rights groups, academics and students, anti-racist organisations and artists,” the Guardian newspaper reported.

Modi, a controversial Hindu nationalist who was elected prime minister last year, was banned from the UK, U.S, and several European countries until 2012 following anti-Muslim riots a decade earlier in Gujrat, in which thousands died.

Protesters claimed Modi failed to stop rioting Hindu mobs that killed more than 1,000 Muslims during weeks of violence.

Waving flags and banners, a particularly vociferous section of the protesters is from Nepal. “Modi does not want us to have our own Constitution,” said Vigyan Parsai, an office-bearer of the Nepal People’s Coordination Committee.

“The blockade against Nepal has caused a Himalayan crisis in Nepal with supplies cut-off and hospitals facing medicine shortages. Nepal is already suffering from the effects of the earthquake.”

Dal Khalsa spokesperson Jas Singh said “We have joined as Sikhs, Kashmiris and Christians to have a united front against Modi and his ideology.

“We are protesting against Hindu fascism, known as Hindutva. It is inspired by pure race ideology and all minorities are being oppressed by it under Modi. We are being forced to do certain rituals and to be subservient to the majority,” Singh said.

Gina Sargunar, a UK citizen of India Origin from Bristol said, “I came because I felt we have to protest against someone who is as anti-secular and anti-intellectual as Modi.”

Another protestor, Thaman Singh Sidhu, added: “The Sikh community, the Muslim community, all minorities feel threatened… Modi has never condemned anything.”

Nirmala Rajasingam, one of the protest organisers, said: “We have been protesting against the Modi government for a very long time because the matters of the Gujarat atrocities have not been settled yet.

“Signs of religious antipathy have been there for a long time but since the BJP took power, it’s gone to a new high. There is a very specific project that they are pursuing to make India a country for Hindus only.”