Statement on the 18th Annual India Independence Day Parade
The 18th Annual India Independence Day Parade that took place Sunday, August 14, 2022 from Edison to Woodbridge, New Jersey featured a bulldozer with the faces of anti-Muslim, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India’s ruling BJP Hindu-nationalist policies are giving rise to extremism and violence against religious and ethnic minorities, mainly Muslims. In India, bulldozers have become a symbol of hate and anti-Muslim sentiment where they are used to demolish Muslim homes, businesses, and places of worship.
Following the event, the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), Council on American Islamic Relations-NJ (CAIR-NJ), Black Lives Matter (BLM), American Muslims for Democracy (AMD) and Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) held a press conference at Edison Township in New Jersey. They denounced the inclusion of the bulldozer and called on the U.S. Attorney General’s office and the New Jersey Attorney General’s office to seek legal action against the parade organizers, the Indian Business Association (IBA). The Mayor of Edison, Samip (Sam) Joshi also confirmed that the bulldozer is an unacceptable addition to the parade and asked the IBA to apologize.
The principles of non-violence that defined the movement for Indian Independence 75 years ago, are not the same values of the BJP party today. A bulldozer in the India Independence Day Parade is an intimidating and divisive symbol meant to represent Islamophobic and hateful messaging that has no place in New Jersey. “We live in a pluralistic society and the divisive politics of India should not be a part of what is meant to be a celebratory event in New Jersey. Our goal should be to strengthen and uplift religious and ethnic diversity,” said Emgage national board member and New Jersey resident, Afsheen Shamsi.
Hindu and Muslim Indian Americans in Edison live alongside each other in harmony. Marching with a bulldozer represents a small minority of Hindu extremists and creates a sense of fear among Indian Muslims. Emgage strongly condemns the use of bulldozers in future events or parades celebrating India in New Jersey.