Organizations have written a letter to Modi expressing their deep disquiet about the escalation of violence against women since he came to power

Narendra Modi in US

His supporters claim the Jamboree event to be organized at London’s Wembley Stadium on 13th November would attract at least 90,000 people, both British nationals and Non Resident Indians. However, there are efforts on the part of London-based women intellectuals to use the occasion of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the city to raise the issue of growing rate of violence against women under the BJP government in India with right wing aggressive Hindutva as guiding principle.

In a major embarrassment to Modi during the run up to his visit, all the major South Asian, Black and minority ethnic women’s organizations involved in combating violence against women based in London have written to the Indian Prime Minister expressing their concern over the status of women in his country. Together with more than 20 prominent South Asian women academics from British universities, these organizations have written a letter to Modi expressing their deep disquiet about the escalation of violence against women since he came to power. Citing detailed evidence, they have written that they were particularly concerned about the Indian Prime Minister’s relationship with the RSS which they describe as “a paramilitary organisation modelled on the Italian Fascist and German Nazi parties known, along with its allied groups, for its violent misogyny openly displayed in the pronouncements of its leaders”.

They write that Modi’s cabinet “includes a number of ministers against whom criminal cases, including rape, are pending” and urge him to dismiss them and also remove Amit Shah from the post of BJP president because he had “directly incited rape” in April 2014 calling on Hindus to “take revenge” on “those who have been ill treating our mothers and sisters”. Citing a number of instances of rape by men from groups allied to the RSS they point out that Modi did not condemn the rapists or launch an investigation into the right-wing Hindu organisations which support them.

They also urge the Prime Minister to make his position clear. “Do you approve of the hate crimes, patriarchal violence and misogyny perpetrated by the RSS and its affiliated organisations?”, the letter asks. “RSSChief, Mohan Bhagwat declared in 2013 that rape happens only to westernised women.   Revered RSS ideologue V.D. Savarkar exhorted Hindu men to prove their masculinity by raping non-Hindu women, who are seen as ‘symbols’ of the ‘enemy culture’. The public condemnation of this aspect of Savarkar’s ideology by you is, we feel, particularly important, because it was under your watch as Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2002, that this ‘theory’ was put into practice with countless Muslim women raped, mutilated and murdered,’’ the letter says.

The letter further states “Babu Bajrangi, a leader of the Bajrang Dal, sister organisation of the RSS, was caught on camera, in 2007, boasting of the rapes and murders he had committed in Gujarat in 2002 and recounting how he torn open the womb of nine month pregnant Kauser Bano and her foetus wrenched out. Bajrangi has been charged for these terrible crimes but he is continually out on bail and like many others who were involved in the rapes and murders during the 2002 pogrom, he is effectively free”. In this present context of continuing violence against women, the letter accuses Modi, “You declared that honouring women and protecting them should be the top-most priority of the government despite the fact that such concepts of ‘honour’ and ‘protection’ are routinely used to justify violence against women’’.

The signatories in the letter include Zlakha Ahmed, Director, Apna Haq, Rotherham, Ila Patel, Director, Asha Projects, London, Shaminder Ubhi, Director, Ashiana Network, London, Sarbjit Ganger, Director, Asian Women’s Resource Centre, London, Mwenya Chimba , Director, Black Association of Women Step Out, Cardiff, Anjona Roy, Director, Dostiyo, Northampton, Camille Kumar, on behalf of Freedom Without Fear Platform, London, Dr Meena Dhanda, University of Wolverhampton, Firoza Mohmed, Director, Humraaz, Blackburn, Dr. Kalpana Wilson, London School of Economics and Marai Larasi, Director, Imkaan. The groups are planning to launch a wide campaign on these issues in Britain during Modi’s visit.