The Dalit activists and allied groups came together on May 6 to protest the murder of Yashwant Bobby in Punjab at the hands of Hindu fundamentalists.
The rally was held outside Khanna Banquet Hall in Surrey.
The protesters raised slogans both against the Modi government in Delhi and the government of Punjab for shielding the Hindu extremist group, Shiv Sena, and other right-wing organizations involved in violence against Dalits (so-called untouchables) and religious minorities.
Held under the aegis of the Ambedkar International Social Reform Organization (AISRO) and supported by Indians Abroad for Pluralist India and Radical Desi, the rally was followed by a conference. There, a resolution was passed asking for action against the killers of Bobby.
It was read out by AISRO cofounder Rashpal Singh Bhardawaj, who also condemned growing attacks on religious minorities and political dissidents in India under the Hindu nationalist BJP government led by Narendra Modi.
AISRO noted that the attacks on Dalits and their icons have intensified under a government that supports a caste hierarchy in accordance with orthodox Hindu traditions.
The resolution was then presented to the member of Parliament for Surrey Centre, Randeep Singh Sarai, who assured the gathering that this would be taken up with Indian officials.
A visiting Dalit activist from India, K.P. Chaudhry, was also presented a cheque to be given to the family of Bobby and other Dalits who were injured in the attack by Shiv Sena members. AISRO has raised funds to help those affected by the violence triggered last month when the Shiv Sena tried to stop Dalits from renaming a crossing in the Punjab city of Phagwara.
Dalits wanted it to be renamed as “Samvidhaan Chowk” to honour Bhim Rao Ambedkar on his birth anniversary.
Ambedkar was the architect of the Indian constitution and an undisputed leader of the Dalit emancipation movement in India.
Right-wing Hindu activists have vandalized statues of Ambedkar in the past.
In his address, Sarai drew parallels between the conditions of Dalits in India and the First Nations in Canada. He said that while the Canadian government acknowledges the injustice done to the indigenous people, India needs to address the issue of Dalits much more seriously.
A portrait of Ambedkar was also unveiled at the AISRO conference, which was primarily held to mark the 127th anniversary of his birth.