Anti-Hindutva protest planned in Heidelberg: ‘existential fight’ for democracy in India?


Rosamma Thomas

Heidelberg (Germany), July 18 (KMS): On Monday, July 18, 2022, the Monsoon Session of India’s Parliament will begin. Over 6,000 km from New Delhi, a day ahead of that session, protesters will be out in the streets of Heidelberg, Germany, saying “No to India’s rightwing Hindutva violence!”

This time, joining the protests in Germany is an exchange student who was forced to leave India after joining the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act while in Chennai, an exchange student at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras.

Describing his experience, Jakob Lindenthal, who was ejected from India by immigration officials who objected to his participation in protests, said: “In 1933, the Nazis had just been elected and had started testing how far they could go. Only the partly active support and partly passive consent of a majority of Germans, as well as appeasement from other countries, gave them a free ticket to ramp up their full regime of terror.”

Earlier this month, addressing the International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington, US Ambassador at large for international religious freedom Rashad Hussain said, “We have had open calls for genocide in India. We have had attacks on churches. We have had a ban on the hijab. We have had demolitions of homes.”

When PM Narendra Modi travelled to Berlin in May this year, he was greeted by slogans of “Modi, down, down!” Protesters carried placards that read: “Indian democracy is at an end!’ and “Modi mass murderer”. The slogans were raised even as PM Modi received a ceremonial guard of honour. Such protests when PM Modi travels abroad are rarely reported in the Indian media.

Suniti Sanghavi, a scientist at the NASA jet propulsion laboratory currently conducting research at the Heidelberg University, will be among the protestors at Heidelberg. Sanghavi has earlier fasted for peace in India, and shares her thoughts about developments in India through a blog, chainfastingforpeace.ink.

“What are the imaginary fears authoritarian leaders around the world get attached to that drive their thirst for power? Do they realize that their fears compel them to commit blind acts of violence that make them dependent on power to merely survive?” she asks.

The protestors have put up banners across the city, inviting people to join the Sunday protest. There will be speeches, singing and poetry at the protest sites, and Sanghavi says she hopes these gatherings will serve to “raise awareness about the existential fight for democracy in India, and thus gain vocal external allies in powerful democracies with a strong commitment to human rights.”

Rosamma Thomas is a freelance journalist

(Courtesy KMS)