Warning: The video in the first tweet in this column is disturbing.
It was late July this year when some Sikh kids came out with their parents to register their protest in Surrey against the unjust farm laws passed by the world’s so-called largest democracy without due consultation.
Passed by the ruling right-wing Hindu nationalist BJP government in New Delhi, these laws threaten the livelihood of peasantry, which has taken to the streets since November, 2020. As most Indo Canadians come from the predominantly Sikh farming community in Punjab, which is considered as breadbasket of India, the ongoing farmers’ protest in India has drawn wide support in Canada from coast to coast.
The August demonstration was organized by the Guru Granth Sahib Satkaar Committee, a group dedicated to Sikh scriptures. The children who were part of the rally punched fists on a portrait of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I made a video of the event and posted it on Twitter without realizing that it would go viral.
Shortly after that, supporters of Modi and his BJP began trolling the organizers and myself. Some described these young souls as potential terrorists over social media and started comparing them with the Taliban and ISIS members. These people were being completely unfair as the children involved in the protest were not using replica guns to target Modi’s poster. All they were doing was punching his image.
Perhaps, these trolls need to be reminded how young children also participated in the Indian freedom movement and spoke truth to the power. Instead of taking all this in stride and doing some self-reflection about where Modi and his party have gone wrong, they were trying to malign these young protesters.
On the contrary, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu supremacist group of which BJP is a political wing, continues to encourage kids to carry arms and incites them against minorities with impunity. Notably, Modi himself was an RSS member, joining the organization when he was only eight.
The RSS is dedicated to the cause of transforming India into Hindu theocracy and has a track record of being involved in violence to terrorize minorities, especially Muslims and Christians.
Before becoming prime minister in 2014, Modi was chief minister of Gujarat, which witnessed its worst massacre of Muslims under his watch in 2002.
Not surprisingly, the attacks on religious minorities have grown in India since he became prime minister. However, the most recent developments call for a global attention and swift action against the BJP.
While world leaders remain obsessed with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and have refused to recognize its government, they look away when it comes to the crimes of the Modi government.
The extremists do not exist in Afghanistan alone and the international leadership needs to see that.
On October 3, the convoy of Ajay Mishra, a minister in the BJP government, allegedly ran over peasants agitating against farm laws in Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh. It left four farmers dead. Four others were reportedly also killed in subsequent clashes.
Video footage of a vehicle mowing down the peaceful protesters is now being widely circulated on social media.
Earlier, two videos emerged showing Mishra and another BJP leader, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, inciting party supporters to violently attack protesting farmers. To some, this suggests that this could have been a preplanned conspiracy.
Notably, Uttar Pradesh is ruled by the BJP, which has gained notoriety for trying to suppress the farmers’ struggle.
Considering all these facts, if anyone deserves to be called terrorists, it is BJP leaders like Mishra and Khattar. Unfortunately, we cannot expect any senior BJP political functionary to be charged for terror given that they are in power, but it’s time for the world leaders to intervene before it’s too late and designate the BJP and the RSS as terror groups.
Those agitated by the video of innocent children punching Modi’s poster in Surrey out of genuine outrage they share with their concerned parents need to make their masters in New Delhi accountable. And they should ask themselves: "Who are the real terrorists?"
If the London, Ontario attack that left four members of a Pakistani Muslim family dead in June, 2021, in a similar manner can be described as terrorism, the Lakhimpur Kheri incident cannot to be treated differently.
After all, an alleged white supremacist accused of running his vehicle over the family that was out for a walk is facing charges under terrorism in Canada. It’s time for Canada to show leadership and put the BJP on its terror list.
It would send a strong message—or at lest make a strong statement—on behalf of the Indo Canadian community that is deeply devastated by this development.