Dropping the Fig Leaf of Unity, India Independence Day Parade in New Jersey Goes Full Communal
- Human rights organizations and Muslim groups condemn the inclusion of a bulldozer which symbolizes the demolition of Muslim properties in India at a parade in Edison.
Human rights and Muslim groups have condemned the inclusion of a bulldozer, which symbolizes the demolition of Muslim properties in India, during the India Day Parade in Edison, New Jersey, this past weekend. Along with the marching bands and floats, was a bulldozer with a photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. A banner saying “Baba ka Bulldozer” was seen next to Adityanath’s photo. The 18th edition of the annual parade was hosted by the Indian Business Association and held on Oak Tree Road, covering the townships of Woodbridge and Edison.
Actress Kajal Aggarwal was the special guest, and BJP national spokesperson Dr. Sambit Patra was the grand marshal. Also in attendance were lawmakers like New Jersey Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.). A photo circulating on social media shows members of Overseas Friends of BJP leading the bulldozer float at the parade.
In recent years, bulldozers have come to symbolize the demolition of homes belonging to Indian Muslims on the mere suspicion of participating in protests or riots. According to a April 2022 report in First Post, “Yogi Adityanath earned the nickname of ‘Bulldozer Baba’ in Uttar Pradesh for his extensive use of the machinery to free up over 67,000 acres of government land from the clutches of land mafia in the state.”
The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) and the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) have issued a statement denouncing the act, calling the bulldozer, “a symbol of Muslim home demolitions in India.” The statement further notes that Modi and Yogi Adityanath “espouse Islamophobic Hindu nationalist ideologies and serve as active leaders” of the BJP. “Marching with these bulldozers shows support for forced homelessness and mass violence against a vulnerable minority,” IAMC said.
“While we support Indian Americans’ right to celebrate their heritage and independence from British colonial rule, we condemn the use of a bulldozer and the glorification of Hindu nationalist figures who have a deeply anti-Muslim track record,” CAIR-NJ executive director Salaedin Maksut said in the statement.
Minhaj M. Khan, activist and former president of the New Jersey chapter of the IAMC told American Kahani that the group has demanded a meeting with the organizers as well as Edison Mayor Sam Joshi and Woodbridge Mayor John E. McCormac “to identify the people behind the idea [of the bulldozer] and understand their motive.” Khan, who lived in Edison for 15 years, and often visits Oak Tree Road with his family, said he was appalled that a bulldozer walked the street “that reminds him of back home, on such an auspicious day.” He said the group has sent feelers to find if any members of the Muslim community attended the Edison parade. “We are scared about these kinds of tactics.”
According to the IAMC-CAIR statement, “a report published earlier this year by Amnesty International, called the practice ‘bulldozer justice’ and “condemned it as openly discriminatory and a violation of International Human Rights Laws.”
The Hindus for Human Rights have also sent a letter to Mayor Joshi and the Edison Township Council “to express disgust at the recent parade by Hindu nationalists in Edison,” and urging them to publicly condemn “the brazen display” of hate. “As Hindus who believe in safety, dignity and basic human rights of all people and communities, we are deeply disturbed by the symbolism displayed in this march,” the letter read.