Webinar on ‘Resisting the Assault on Democracies in India and the US’ brings together speakers from varied fields
NEW YORK — The Alliance to Save and Protect America from Infiltration by Religious Extremists (ASPAIRE) held its second part of a series of discussions on “Resisting the Assault on Democracies in India and the US” this week. With prominent activists participating in the webinar held on February 21, the focus was on the Dalit minority and Farmer’s protests in India.
The speakers included, Anil Wagde, representing the Ambedkar International Centre (AIC) in the US; Bhupinder Singh, who represents the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) in the US Department of State, US Senate, House of Representatives and the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and United Nations; and
Dr Swaiman Singh, a cardiologist from USA, who is currently serving agitating farmers on the Delhi borders. The online event was moderated by Dr. Shaik Ubaid and Shujat Khan of ASPAIRE.
In his remarks, Dr Shaik Ubaid said: “We live in the US, a country the power of which is felt all over the world, especially in India, where the ruling party is constantly trying to appease the US government. It is therefore important to become active in our cities and towns, educating the various faith leaders, human rights groups, getting together with all the civil rights groups, the media, politicians from the local governments to the federal government to push for a change.”
He said human rights violations are never the internal matter of any country. India has stood for the violations in the past by taking a lead against the apartheid government in South Africa and raised concerns for Palestinians.
Anil Wagde said Dalits have been subject to heinous crimes for centuries, but the way the present BJP government is handling crimes against Dalits needs special attention. A 19-year-old Dalit girl was abducted and raped by four upper caste men on September 14, 2020, in broad daylight, in UP’s Hathras district. The girls died in a Delhi hospital on September 29, without recourse to proper medical care. She was brutalised so badly, by strangulation and breaking her spine. After her death, what happened was a greater travesty of injustice. On the intervening night of September 29th and 30th, she was cremated post haste by the police without the presence of her family.
National Crime Records Bureau reports that 10 Dalit women are raped in the country everyday in India, numbers which are increasing under the present regime.
Bhupendra Singh said for the past several decades, the human rights violation on minority communities have remained a substantial concern. The barbaric attacks during the Sikh genocide in 1984 is still alive in Sikh hearts. The huge loss of Sikh youth in targeted killing by the Indian government in fake encounters, is not generally seen in democracies. The 1990s, which saw rise in militancy promoted by police officials, also witnessed huge synthetic drug infiltration from Pakistan that has gripped Punjab for almost two decades, with no end in sight. There is a systematic attack by the Indian government and the media, against millions of farmers from Punjab participating in peaceful protests against the anti-farmer laws, which is a cause for worry.
This is a systemic and deep conspiracy to wipe out the Sikh community. The hate towards Sikhs escalated after the January 26, 2021 incident at Red Fort, following which several anti-Sikh tweets started making rounds, which are openly supported by those in the government. Without the necessary checks and balances by the Indian constitution and its partial implementation of laws by the Supreme Court of India to suit the interests of the Modi government, it becomes extremely important for us to work with the US government more closely on human rights violations in India. Several lessons on protecting human rights need to be learned from the world’s oldest democracy US, by the world’s youngest democracy India, which is now rapidly becoming an elected autocracy..
Dr Swaiman Singh addressed the webinar while attending to an elderly lady who had wound in her foot. He said, “I joined the farmer protests thinking I will help out for a few days, but seeing what was going on here and experiencing a real need for doctors, made me stay on. I realised that I am needed here far more than where I was working in the US. I had planned to pay a visit here and decide that if there was a clinic needed, pay someone to set up a clinic or a temporary hospital and leave. But sadly people started having a lot of expectations from me and then I started having a lot of expectations from myself and then I couldn’t leave.
There is one doctor here for every 100,000 people. Every day I see cases of trauma, diarrhea, high blood pressure, among others. Several farmers have died and the situation would be a lot worse, without us here. Even now, as I speak, I am bandaging the wounded feet of a woman farmer, in deep pain because of it.”
He said roads are blocked at the moment and “we are having a hard time getting our supplies. But nobody is willing to give up the fight because they realise that if they give up the fight they are dead. They have decided that they might as well die fighting, and we have decided to do sewa (service) here, for as long as it is needed.”