"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.

Open letter to City of Surrey: Who will bell the cat when it comes to question Modi’s India? Featured


Gurpreet Singh

It’s good to know that the City of Surrey has been prompt in responding to calls by Ukrainian groups for pulling out the Russian pavilion from this year’s Surrey Fusion Festival.

After all, the Canadian government is sympathetic to Ukraine, which is under constant attack from Moscow.  It makes sense that the City of Surrey decides to do so, but not surprising considering the widespread anti-Russian sentiments across Canada.

What is really upsetting is that nobody questioned the inclusion of the Indian pavilion in the event. This is despite the fact that people of Indian origin not only have a sizeable population in Surrey, they have huge political representation at three levels of government from the city. It’s rather depressing to note that Indian democracy and diversity is being taken for granted. Information given on the Fusion Festival website about India is misleading, especially under the current political environment.

Attacks on religious minorities, especially Muslims, have grown under a right wing Hindu nationalist BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. If Putin is bad, Modi is even worse. He belongs to a Hindu supremacist organization called RSS that is determined to transform India from an open and tolerant society to an oppressive Hindu state.

The Fusion Festival website gives an impression that India celebrates its diverse landscape, including the iconic Taj Mahal, the gift of the Mughal culture, but in reality the BJP and RSS are at work to erase Muslim history. They have already demolished an ancient mosque in the province of UP, the home of Taj Mahal. A section within this political combine also claims that Taj Mahal belongs to the Hindus, and Muslims are systematically targeted by the UP police with impunity. 

Do we have to remind the City of Surrey how Indians, particularly the Sikhs, campaigned for almost a year in the city against the Modi government’s controversial farming laws that were aimed to marginalize the farmers and cultivators, resulting in protests all over the world? The City of Surrey also showed its solidarity with the protesters who were intimidated and demonized by the Modi government, which is well documented. Will it be too much to ask the City of Surrey to pull out the Indian pavilion to send a strong message to Modi? Will the City of Surrey dare to bell the cat, or will it remain selective and unconcerned about India’s war against its own people?                 

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Gurpreet Singh

Cofounder and Director of Radical Desi


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