8 feb 2012
NEW YORK: Marking the 10th anniversary of the Gujarat riots, a coalition of over 40 Indian-American bodies held a demonstration and a candle-light vigil here, shouting slogans against Chief Minister Narendra Modi for his alleged complicity in the communal violence and demanding justice for the victims. Over 100 people from the Indian-American community came together under the banner of ‘Coalition Against Genocide’ (CAG) for the demonstration yesterday.
Gathered near a statute of Mahatma Gandhi in Manhattan, the coalition pressed its demand for compensation for the victims and to bring the perpetrators of the riots to justice.
Women and children held placards and shouted slogans against Modi and his government.
Vice President of the Indian American Muslim Council Eastern Region, Mohammad Yusuf Gaddani, said the coalition chose to hold the demonstration in front of Gandhi’s statue as “we have to decide whether we want Gandhi’s India or Modi’s India.”
The coalition claimed that even after 10 years of the Gujarat riots, justice had been denied to the victims and their families and the state government too had shown no remorse for the killings of innocent civilians.
“Those who have lost their lives cannot be brought back but we should bring closure to the victims and their families by putting those responsible for the killings behind bars,” Gaddani told PTI.
Swati Shah, a member of the South Asia Solidarity Initiative, said it was the responsibility of the Indian and South Asian diaspora to maintain the correct information in public sphere about what had happened in Gujarat.
“We are concerned that Modi wants to raise his profile as a potential candidate for Prime Minister…,” she said.
The 40 organisations had earlier come together in 2005 under the CAG banner and campaigned against Modi’s visit to the US. The coalition had sought denial of a visa to Modi and revocation of his diplomatic visa.
Gaddani said similar vigils would be held in California, Washington, Chicago, Boston and Florida by local chapters of the Indian American Muslim Council.
He said the people needed to come together and ensure that what happened in Gujarat 10 years ago was not repeated in any part of India again.
The demonstration was held just days after a Congressional resolution was introduced in the US House of Representatives on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Gujarat communal riots.
The resolution shared the opinion of the US Department of State that the Gujarat government had not adequately pursued justice for the victims of the 2002 violence and urged the state government to restore religious freedom.
PTI | Mar 4, 2012, 02.57PM IST