Men and women belonging to the Hindutva groups in New Jersey in the United States were seen marching with bulldozers on India’s Independence Day. Photographs of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath were also found on the bulldozers.
In recent years, the bulldozers have become a weapon in the hands of Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) governments across India to destroy the homes and livelihoods of the Muslim community.
“Baba ka Bulldozer,” read a banner carried by the men in the rally. Uttar Pradesh CM Adityanath is often dubbed “bulldozer baba” (bulldozer monk) by the right-wing media for his policy of demolishing homes of those who protest against the government.
After a video of the rally went viral on social media, Indian American Muslim Council tweeted, “Today, the Hindu right-wing in Edison, New Jersey marched with bulldozers, which have become a weapon in the hands of the BJP government to destroy Muslim homes and livelihoods.”
“Indians in New Jersey, US celebrating India’s independence with a bulldozer rally. Bulldozers have become infamous in India as it is being often used by the Hindu right-wing regime to demolish Muslim houses. Btw: A large number of Indians in New Jersey are illegal immigrants! At least 55,000 Indians live illegally in New Jersey. Have they ever thought that if the New Jersey governor decides to use bulldozers on their houses?” read tweets by Ashok Swain, a Professor of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University, Sweden.
The much-criticised demolition drives were seen in Muslim neighborhoods across northern and central India. Muslims argue this is the latest attempt to harass and marginalise them. They point to a pattern of rising Islamophobia under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Muslims said the real reason behind the demolition had nothing to do with the alleged illegality of the building and that they were being punished for being vocal critics of the government.