April was a big month for Indians.
PM Modi visited London, UK. Incidentally, during the same time, India was witnessing the aftermath of a communally-motivated gang rape and murder of an 8-year-old child. And as the nation was coming to terms with what had actually happened, several other news stories of children being raped and mutilated (like pieces of meat in a butcher shop) flooded in from various parts of the country.
Rape in India is business as usual. After all, according to a report, there’s one incident of sexual abuse against a child every 15 minutes in India.
But, the outcry this time was huge because instead of arresting and investigating the culprits, lawyers, some policemen, and about 5,000 people decided to stand in favor of the rapists. Rallies were taken out in Kathua and Unnao in favor of the rapists, where the Indian flag and patriotic chants were used (probably equating the guilty parties to the nation’s integrity).
When news came that PM Modi was about to visit London, naturally there was a stir in the Indian diaspora here. One would expect that like the rest of the nation, the Indians settled here (who are highly educated, privileged, wealthy, civilised) would be excited to raise this issue to the PM of the country who was awfully silent for a long time about these child rapes that happened recently. This was in stark comparison to his reactions to actress Sridevi’s demise or Anushka’s wedding.
Besides his own reactions, due to the way his ministers protected the rapists and the fact that some were allegedly the culprits of (or were involved in) those incidents, there were some hard, uncomfortable questions he had to answer.
As that masses, we vote for these ministers – and when they fail to protect us, it is our democratic right to question them. This is also called ‘dissent’. However, in today’s semi-fascist India, questioning the government is the same as being a traitor. Apparently, people see no difference between the country and the government in power. But there is a difference here!
In the video below, please watch the masses that gathered together to party for Modi’s welcome, to celebrate his visit – and the handful of people who gathered outside the Indian Embassy to protest against child rapes.
Notice how thousands of Indians are dancing and chanting “India is the best” while standing on the streets of London. Now, I dare you to imagine thousands of citizens of a foreign country, standing the middle of New Delhi and chanting that their country is the best!
Secondly, I can never understand why these people have chosen to stay in the UK if India is indeed the ‘best country in the world’. It reminds me of those scenes from DDLJ where Anupam Kher is always talking about “mere desh ki mitti” while enjoying life in Europe. Arey yaar, if your desh ki mitti is so great, why are you staying here? Who has forced you to do so?
In fact, the amount of money Indians pay for legal visas, illegal passports, etc. just to get to stay in the UK is totally revealing of any sentiment but their love for their desh ki mitti. Hypocrisy at its best!
The apathetic women dancing in these videos, chanting how great Mr Modi is, all seem to belong to the upper class and the highly privileged society of London – and probably, they are the wives of diplomats who work for the Modi government and their friends. I know this because, in a particular FB group, they all shared pictures shaking hands, having food and hanging around Mr Modi. In my eyes, it clearly shows that they all have access to top government offices and officials.
Their world is seemingly perfect – they are wealthy, living abroad and dining and socialising with India’s PM. Why would they bother to worry about the nation’s petty problems instead of warming up to their bosses?
In the second part of the video, a bunch of Indian students, some activists, and some poor, hardworking middle-class Indians are seen protesting outside the Indian Embassy for child rights and against the sexual abuse of children. The video was shot on April 22 though, and not on the arrival of Mr Modi.
Obviously, they are not allowed to go anywhere close to the PM.
On the day of Modi’s arrival too, there were other protesters. Probably, there was a group of Khalistani guys, a group of pro-independence Kashmiris (I think) and some other groups too.
The main group of protesters consisted of women from the South Asia Solidarity Group and the South Hall Black Sisters. Unlike the regular protesters in the video, this group was a stronger one, both in numbers and the strength of their messages. After all, they are a recognised NGO and they had billboards and digital posters on a van with ‘Modi Go Back’ messages and the ones that showed how he had turned India into a fascist land. Relevantly enough, courageous reporters in Britain have also called India a ‘republic of fear‘, in light of the consistent lynchings and oppression against the Dalits and the Muslims.
That day, almost all articles by the British press that featured a story on PM Modi’s visit alluded to the recent rapes and the lynchings. The SASG posted a whole article about why they were protesting Modi’s visit. Yet, the majority of Indians were clueless, and were busy dancing and chanting.
Jane Chellah was also attending the protest on the day of Modi’s arrival. She expressed a great deal of shock in her article, “Modi In London: A Parallel Universe Of Women’s Attitudes Towards Modi”.
I want to quote some of her notable observations below:
“I happened upon the pro-Modi group first but it took me a few seconds to recognise this. The reason for my initial bewilderment was because this group consisted predominantly of women. They were full of defiant swagger and were chanting pro-Modi phrases.
Where was the recognition of the hostile environment that has been created by Modi’s politics which does not take child sexual abuse and rape seriously? Where were the banners calling for Justice for Asifa?
Instead, there was merrymaking and music and colourful clothing that one could have been forgiven for wondering whether a wedding was taking place. Quite ironic considering that there are funerals taking place all over India for survivors/victims of rape and child sexual abuse.
The anti-Modi demonstration was, by contrast, much smaller and serious. They held banners with Asifa’s photograph and against sexual violence. There was no music and their mood was subdued. Concern over the level of rapes in India has been reflected in the UK press.”
I am not saying that it is wrong to dance to Indian songs and celebrate Indian culture, no matter what land you are on. But if you dare to be entitled enough to practise your culture on other lands, allow others to follow their cultures on your land too.
And apart from the dancing and celebrations, this was a crucial time in the history of our nation. Two minors had been brutally gang-raped – one of them had died the worst death imaginable. We can dance and celebrate every single day of the year, but this was the time to show remorse, stand united, and raise questions about the increased violence against women and children.
But unless it’s your own blood that’s spilled, why care? Continue living in the privileged bubble of yours and keep dancing (not necessarily to the tunes).
Rest In Peace, children of India.
“When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else’s oppression, we’ll find our opportunities to make real change.” – Ijeoma Oluo, “
PS: I interviewed the organiser of the protest for child rights. In the next post, you can read all about what the protest was like.