NY Rally and Vigil on Gujarat Riots 10th Anniversary

By Shaik Saad

union square park 008

The Coalition Against Genocide (CAG), the broad-based alliance that was instrumental in getting the diplomatic visa of Narendra Modi revoked, organized a New York rally in commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the Gujarat Riots.

Hundreds of Indian-Americans of diverse religious backgrounds gathered to remember the victims of the anti-Muslim pogrom in front of the Gandhi statue in Union Square on March 3rd, 2012. 
Though the balmy 55 F made it feel like a beautiful spring evening rather than winter, the mood of the rally remained somber.

They had gathered to remember the victims of a carnage that was unleashed on the Muslims of the Indian state of Gujarat in 2002. Thousands were brutally killed, hundreds of women and girls were raped, and many thousands “ethnically cleansed” in the spring of 2002 in the well-planned pogrom in the Indian state of Gujarat.

“We want Gandhi’s Gujarat NOT Modi’s Gujarat,” they chanted, pointing to the statue of Mohandas Gandhi, the founder of modern India.

The rally was addressed by not only Indian American leaders but by well-known American religious leaders and human rights activists. Dr. Hillel Levine, the founder of Center for International Conciliation, prayed for the victims of the pogrom.

Rev. Mark Lukens, the President of The Interfaith Alliance, Long Island Chapter, spoke against all kinds of discrimination including racism in America and Islamophobia.

Joe Lombardo, the national co-chair of United National antiwar Coalition, pledged to work with Coalition Against Genocide, and vowed not only to get justice for the victims of Gujarat but also to fight the infiltration of Hindutva-fascists in US power centers. He thanked Muslim Peace Coalition USA and Desis Rising Up and Moving for their fight against discrimination in the US.

Al-Haj Imam Talib Abdur Rashid, an imam who heads the umbrella body of New York area Muslims known as the Islamic Leadership Council, stated that the movement that killed Gandhi and tens of thousands of Muslims and Christians would not be allowed to flourish in the US. 

Biju Mathew, one of the founding members of Coalition Against Genocide, vowed to continue the struggle till Hindutva-fascism is completely defeated.

Dr. Shaik Ubaid, another founding member of the coalition pointed out that the coalition is expanding and that more American interfaith and civil rights leaders and groups are supporting it.

Biju Mathew and Dr. Shaik Ubaid  were given the Lincoln-Gandhi-King Award by the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area Indian Americans for their role in launching the Coalition Against Genocide to fight for pluralism and justice and to keep Narendra Modi out of the US. The other speakers named them “The Men Who Defeated Narendra Modi.”

Bhairavi  Desai, the leader of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, and Svati Shah of South Asia Solidarity Forum, both Gujarati Hindu women, said “We want Gandhi’s Gujarat, not Modi’s Gujarat.” They agreed with a later speaker, Saeed Patel, a Muslim from Gujarat, that the Gujarat pogrom is a stigma and a mark of shame for Gujarat and India.  Alex Koshi, a commissioner with Rev. Martin Luther King commission in New Jersey, Habeeb Ahmed, a human rights commissioner with the Nassau county, Juned Qazi of Indian National Overseas Congress, Yusuf Dadani of Indian American Muslim Council, Silky Shah and Bhumika Moochala of Gujarati ancestary, Azhar Bhatt of Muslim Peace Coalition, USA and Dr. Satinath Choudhry, a Dalit leader, were among the other speakers.

The rally was followed by a candle-light vigil, the candles representing the lives of all the victims of Gujarat pogroms that were violently snuffed out.

It was rush hour in Union Square and thousands of passers by stopped and picked up the flyers about the Gujarat pogrom.

Similar vigils and rallies were held in ten cities across the US by organizations that are members of the Coalition Against Genocide http://coalitionagainstgenocide.org/


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