DESPARDES NEWS MONITOR — Thousands of people – many from the Indian-American diaspora, are expected to gather in Texas on Sunday, to hear Indian PM Modi and President Trump –as the two leaders of world’s oldest and largest democracies share stage –and address a rally dubbed “Howdy Modi”.
About 500,000 people in Texas identify as Indian American, including some 150,000 in Houston– and almost the same number of Pakistanis live in the city. They say they have reasons to protest: Modi’s Kashmir annexation, the Hindutva rise in India and efforts orchestrated efforts to marginalize Muslims and other minorities in the largest democracy.
According to reports, Modi was received at the event by protesters calling for an end to human rights violations in Occupied Kashmir. A large number of Sikh community members also gathered to protest Modi’s actions in occupied Kashmir.
The Washington Post echoed apprehensions in its latest report on the Valley.
What will he (Modi) say about human rights in Kashmir?, asked WP. Modi’s government has kept the disputed region under lockdown since August 5.
The Modi government’s recent announcement to exclude nearly 2 million mostly Muslim residents in Assam from a citizenship list has drawn parallels with Trump’s attempts to ban visas for immigrants from mostly Muslim countries— and protests.
Some observers say both leaders are going against the grain, and human rights appear to be one of the collateral damages they might be willing to ignore for larger goals– the new world order.
Almost one-third of Amnesty International’s reporting on India has focused on Kashmir including Assam. Though diplomatic reactions on Kashmir have been muted, the Indian government faces criticism from the media and human rights organizations, wrote WP.
Nearly two million people in Assam state were recently excluded from a list of citizens. This includes a number of Bangladeshi refugees, both Muslims and Hindus, who fled to India more than 40 years ago. Those excluded have 120 days from the end of last month to prove their citizenship.
The Kashmir and Assam situation found voices in protests inside and outside the NRG stadium in Houston on Sunday. Hundreds of people belonging to various ethnicities came out to hold an “anti-Modi demonstration” where they called attention to the “racist Modi regime” and its ongoing human rights violations in India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Inside the stadium, deafening drums marked the entrance of President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi as they clasped hands and walked across the stage, sending a message of unity between the world’s two largest democracies.
Trump highlighted the growth of US exports to India, the billions of dollars India is spending on US-made defense equipment and joint military exercises with New Delhi.
“India has never invested in the United States like it is doing today,” Trump said, adding that “we’re doing the same thing in India.”
Mohammed Nasrullah, of the International Humanitarian Foundation, one of the main organizers of the protests said, “Most Americans don’t know where Kashmir or where Assam is, so our number one goal is [raising] awareness and educating the local community of this issue and what the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, has been doing during this term.”
Earlier in the day, Indian minority groups protested against Modi outside the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva.
The slogan chanting demonstrators condemned the Hindu extremist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for the rise in cases of abuse against minorities.
The participants called for the United Nations to not allow Modi to speak at its general assembly session in view of his government denying Muslims, Sikhs and Christians of their basic rights.