Azad Essa / Middle East Eye
US activists have expressed outrage after a bulldozer was used during an India Independence Day event in the state of New Jersey, something critics say has become a symbol for Hindu nationalist politicians and a tool to intimidate the country’s minority Muslim community.
Hundreds of Indian Americans held a rally on Sunday to commemorate India’s 75th Independence Day in Edison, a town in central New Jersey.
The event, organised by the Indian Business Association, is an annual affair. Men, women and children carry the Indian tricolour flag and walk through the streets of a town known for its Indian supermarkets, restaurants and boutique fashion stores.
On Sunday, the rally was attended by several local politicians as well as the national spokesperson of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
One Indian Muslim who attended Sunday’s rally described it as “huge”.
“It was heavily crowded, everyone wearing Indian T-shirts such as cricket shirts or Indian colours,” the resident of Edison, who requested anonymity, told MEE.
“I got weird looks in the crowd as I have somewhat of a beard though I am young and was accompanied by family in hijab.
“I support cultural ties to my country and I thought it’d be nice to just walk down the parade. I didn’t know it would be what it was but I should have known better.”
Indeed, there was something a little different about this year’s event.
On Monday, photos and video of a bulldozer, adorned with posters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ally, Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of India’s most populous state Uttar Pradesh, rolling through the main road in Edison as bystanders yelled “Jai Shree Ram”, a religious chant that has now become a battle cry for Hindu supremacists in India.
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