“I’ve never been treated like an Untouchable – not until yesterday,” says Modi protester
The following is a personal report by Jada Bernard, an advisor to Organization for Minorities of India, about his experiences participating in protests against Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, and how he felt segregated in California for peacefully protesting a foreign politician implicated in genocide of minorities. Views expressed are Mr. Bernard’s.
It is beautiful in Oakland, and my voice is still hoarse from protesting yesterday in San Jose where rock-star Modi made his appearance. Eighteen thousand people filled up the SAP Center in San Jose, but over 48,000 entered the lottery, trying to get in to hear him speak about BRICS, and Digital India, the new economic infrastructure — all of these wonderful things that he’s doing for this new global government that’s coming up.
There were even thousands more in the park waiting for him to show up, including about 3,000 protesters, which is what the police estimated. As I got on Google and went to see what the reports were of the park incidents, I was really disheartened and it encouraged me to make this video right here. I have to make this video right here and tell you that what you see in the news didn’t happen.
So what you’ll see is that there were people who were holding signs. They say that these were mostly Sikh crowds. And you’ll see the police respond, but they don’t talk about the police’s response. We need to talk about the police’s response and how the police began to segregate people in order to deal with these issues.
These Modi supporters got pushy with women who were carrying signs and who were chanting with bullhorns. They began to put their hands on these women. I myself had to stand in-between one of the guys that I’ve seen on ABC-7 News as a Modi supporter who was putting his hands on one of these protesters who I didn’t know. I had to step in myself.
And when we went to the police for help, they did not help. They turned to us and began to segregate and herd us and told us to go a particular part of the park. This is in America, people! This is at San Jose outside the SAP Center.
Yesterday, Narendra Modi made his rock-star appearance — September 27 — stepping in, making history. The first time we’ve hosted a world leader from India since the ’40s – since the 40s. And it really is remarkable history.
Let me tell you a little bit about Mr. Modi. Mr. Modi is a Hindu nationalist. If you google “Modi, Hindu nationalist,” you will see a lot of articles saying: “Is Modi a Hindu nationalist?” And you’ll see that, oh, Modi should answer for these accusations of him being a Hindu nationalist. He must answer. We have to know.
But if you google “Modi, Hindu nationalist” and then limit your searches to before 2006, you’ll see that it comes up quite differently. You’ll see headlines from the Washington Post like: “U.S. Denies Visa to Hindu Nationalist.” You’ll see things from the Department of Defense, you’ll see all types of articles, you’ll see the Wikipedia article on the 2002 pogroms — the Gujarat riots — in which elected officials, high-ranking officials, appointed officials were out there leading these riots and leading and inciting violence against non-Hindu people.
Citizens! These were not people who were activists or terrorists. These were people who were children pulled out of their homes, hanged and burned. Women were raped. And the police stood by and did nothing, for the most part. There are reports of them joining in on the carnage, but there are no reports of them helping.
And they always told the people: “We have no orders to help you. We have no orders to help you.” And it was so reminiscent from the way that we were handled by the Modi supporters and the way we were handled by the police. It seems so similar to the stories I’ve heard about the police in Gujarat.
I can’t wait to visit India one day, but it was not fun to experience that first-hand. I’m from the south. I’m from Louisiana, where David Duke was an elected politician, so I’ve experienced white supremacy. I’ve never experienced Hindu supremacy first-hand.
I’ve experienced what it’s like to be treated like a nigger, which has caused me to devote my life to civil rights. But I’ve never been treated like a Dalit before. I’ve never been treated like an Untouchable – not until yesterday.
I was just blown away by the diversity of groups that were out there protesting. The mainstream media will tell you that these were mostly Sikh groups. I saw women groups, I saw Dalit groups, I saw LGBTQ groups. I saw a wonderful cross-section of all of the groups that have been marginalized by the Hindutva.
I saw all of the people that have been hurt by Modi. I saw them doing die-ins, I saw them doing demonstrations, I saw them chanting. I saw them showing up and teaching their children about the things that have happened in 2002, the things that continue to happen even today, the things that have happened in the last year, and the things that we can look forward to with programs such as BRICS.
Please look into it. All you have to do is google “Modi, Hindu nationalist” and look at the way that it’s treated right now. Look at the way that the media’s reporting it right now. And then limit your search to before 2006 and check out the difference. Learn about what happens.
Learn about these genocides that go on today.
Learn about the people who can’t go to the court system for help. Who can’t go to the police for help! Who can they go to for help?
My voice is hoarse. I don’t have a voice because I’ve been out there screaming for people who don’t have a voice. I’m not going to stop yelling until somebody listens.
Raise your voice with me. There’s one Mulnivasi. Black power. We’re all here together.