Hundreds of protesters gathered in London on India’s 77th Independence Day to voice their concerns about the ongoing violence against minorities and tribals in Indian states, Manipur and Haryana.
Leading Indian diaspora groups and several Members of Parliament alongside feminist groups joined the protest, calling attention to targeted sexual assaults on minority women, systematic ethnic cleansing, and hate-driven killings. They specifically criticized the current Narendra Modi government for orchestrating these actions. The demonstration unfolded in Parliament Square, Central London, drawing a substantial crowd.
Addressing the protest, Claudia Webbe, MP for Leicester East, criticized the Modi government for what she described as “ethnic cleansing and annihilation” occurring in Manipur and Haryana. She particularly emphasized the “cruel and horrifying” sexual assaults on Kuki-Zo women in Manipur.
Apsana Beegum, Labour Party MP for Poplar and Limehouse, expressed solidarity with the protest and condemned the oppressive anti-minority politics of the BJP-led government.
“The attack is reflective of the oppressive anti-minority politics of the current BJP-led government. Meitei groups in Manipur have been emboldened to carry out extrajudicial punishments because of it,” she said.
Labour MPs John McDonnel and Sir Stephan Timms also issued statements supporting the protest.
Protesters brandished placards featuring images of Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accompanied by the words “Wanted for crimes against humanity.”
In an open letter to Indian President Droupati Murmu, the protestors urged action to ensure justice for victims and survivors of sexual violence. Their suggested measures included the resignation of Manipur Chief Minister Mr. Singh and Home Minister Amit Shah. The letter was endorsed by organizations such as South Asia Solidarity Group, Manipuri diaspora group Unau Welfare UK, UK Indian Muslim Council, Caste Watch UK, Million Women Rise, Strive UK, Scottish Indians for Justice, Women Against Caste, Apna Haq, Oxford South Asian Alternative Forum, Imkaan, and Peace in India.
Dany, a representative from Unau Welfare UK, declared, “We demand President’s Rule in Manipur to stop the violence!”
Mukti Shah, spokesperson for South Asia Solidarity Group, remarked that the misogyny against Muslim, Christian, Dalit, and Adivasi women is inseparable from the rise of fascism and the ominous specter of ethnic cleansing and genocide in India.
Muhammed Owais, Director of UK Indian Muslim Council, affirmed that on Independence Day, they stood in support of minorities and called for an end to acts of hatred and violence in India.