While there is overwhelming enthusiasm for the upcoming U.S. visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, principally from his interlocutors in the American government, from CEOs of the largest U.S. corporations and from the Indian-American community, a range of non-governmental organisations is said to be planning protest rallies on the margins of many of the events during the four-day tour.
Representatives of the Coalition Against Genocide, an umbrella association of diverse organisations focussing on justice and accountability for the 2002 anti-Muslim Gujarat pogrom, confirmed The Hindu that a protest rally was being planned under the aegis of a new group known as the “Alliance for Justice and Accountability,” and is scheduled to take place outside the venue of Mr. Modi’s highly-anticipated address to the Indian-American community at Madison Square Garden. Festivities inside the arena and protest outside the venue would happen simultaneously between 9.30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on September 28.
Another minority rights group, Sikhs for Justice, announced plans to hold a “Citizen’s Court” in Lafayette Park beyond the White House on September 30 at 12.30 p.m., even as Mr. Modi holds bilateral summit discussions with U.S. President Barack Obama inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
While SFJ said it had applied for permission to use the park for its protest with the District of Columbia Parks and Recreation and other relevant authorities, they had not yet received a permit.
Speaking to The Hindu SFJ Legal Advisor Gurpatwant Pannun said although his group had in the past focussed on the 1984 riots in which many Sikhs were killed, on this occasion the focus would be on the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat.
“We will be doing an indictment for the wrongs of the 2002 riots,” Mr. Pannun said, adding that the “charges” pressed against Mr. Modi and his erstwhile administration by the makeshift courtroom would relate to allegations that they failed to stop murder, assault, rape, and obstructed justice.
SFJ also said, along with the Sikh Youth of America and other groups, it would hold protests in New York City on September 28, at a venue close to the location of Mr. Modi’s community reception.
The group has further started a campaign displaying dioramas at Washington DC metro stations, charging Modi’s political party with “attacks on religious minorities in India,” an SFJ press statement said.