THE presence of a bulldozer at an Indian independence day parade in the US town of Edison, New Jersey, strongly suggests that Hindu extremists are trying to export the poison of communal hatred from the subcontinent to the diaspora. To the uninitiated — including ordinary Americans — the symbolism of hauling the bulldozer to what was supposed to be a celebration of Indian independence must have been lost. But the Indian-American organisers of the event knew exactly what they were doing. Decorating the heavy vehicle were pictures of the Indian prime minister, and the venom-spewing chief minister of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath. Yogi, who is also a radical Hindu priest and a rising star in the BJP, is known as ‘Bulldozer Baba’ for sending in the vehicle to punish opponents, primarily Indian Muslims. What is even more disturbing is that some in India are terming him a possible successor to Narendra Modi. Therefore, the Sangh Parivar has adopted the bulldozer as a provocative symbol of dominance, designed to instil fear within the country’s Muslims. That this odious communal behaviour is now being openly flaunted on foreign shores is a matter of concern. To put it in context, it is the same as walking behind nooses or swastikas in a Fourth of July parade. But what is reassuring is that numerous members of the local council have expressed outrage after learning what the bulldozer stood for. One councilwoman described the use of the symbol as “hideous, unacceptable”.
While the ‘Indian lobby’ may be strong in the US, the American administration needs to keep a close eye on Hindu extremists who may be using the freedoms available to them in the West to finance, plan and execute anti-Muslim agendas in India. The fact is that organisations — some posing as religious outfits, others as charities — with strong links to the RSS are well entrenched in the US, and raise millions of dollars in funds. It needs to be investigated whether these organisations are working to forward the agenda of their parent organisation on American soil and worse, if they are sending funds to Indian outfits complicit in the harassment, marginalisation and murder of Indian Muslims. It is bad enough that the atmosphere of the subcontinent has been poisoned by the violent bigotry of the Sangh Parivar. Now, the Sangh’s devotees must be stopped from spreading their hateful rhetoric in the West.
Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2022