No Charges of Bias Intimidation in the Case of Displaying Bulldozer at India Day Parade in Edison
- While the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office concluded the incident was properly reported and classified as a bias incident, it ruled that suitable probable cause to charge anyone with bias intimidation did not exist.
The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office has determined that no charges of bias intimidation will be filed in connection with the inclusion of a bulldozer at last year’s India Day Parade in Edison, New Jersey. While the prosecutor’s office concluded the incident was properly reported and classified as a bias incident, “suitable probable cause to charge anyone with bias intimidation did not exist,” nj.com reported, citing a joint press release issued on Jan. 27 by Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Chief Thomas Bryan of the Edison Police Department.
The parade, held on Aug. 14 on Oak Tree Road, covering the townships of Woodbridge and Edison, included a bulldozer, which symbolizes the demolition of Muslim properties in India. The bulldozer was decorated with photos 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. BJP national spokesperson Dr. Sambit Patra was the grand marshal of the parade.
In the Jan. 27 press release, Ciccone and Bryan mentioned the numerous reports concerning the bulldozer float received by the Edison Police Department. “The complainants reported that the float was an offensive and Islamophobic endorsement of the divisive practice of using heavy machinery to demolish homes of alleged criminals, protestors, and rioters in India,” nj.com reported. “This brand of ‘bulldozer politics’ has been criticized as disproportionately targeting religious-minority communities in India,” the report added.
A few weeks after the Aug. 14 incident, the Indian Business Association, the organizer of the parade, apologized for the inclusion of the bulldozer. In a letter issued to Edison Mayor Samip “Sam” Joshi and Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac, IBA president Chandrakant Patel said the organization is sorry for “certain aspects” of the parade “that reflected poorly on our organization and offended the Indian American minority groups, especially Muslims, from the local area and across the state and country.” He continued by saying that “the parade should be and has always been about a celebration of our Indian heritage and inclusion and diversity among our many cultures and religions.”
IBA’s apology came a few days after Mayor Joshi issued a statement acknowledging that the bulldozer was used as “a symbol of division and discrimination.” In a statement sent to American Kahani, he stressed that although the parade is “independently run and not a township-sponsored event, any symbol or action that represents discrimination is unwelcome in Edison Township as we are committed to celebrating and working in harmony with people from all cultures.” He ensured that his office will be working with stakeholders “to ensure that celebrations in the future serve the best interest of our community.
Meanwhile, the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), has thanked the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office for investigating the use of the bulldozer. “We thank the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s office for investigating the incident and welcome their decision to classify it as a ‘bias incident,” read the statement issued by the group. CAIR also thanked “all of the local advocates, community leaders, and elected officials including Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker for their statements of support at the time of the incident, and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, Senator Vin Gopal, Assemblywoman Shama Haider, Assemblywoman Sadaf Jaffer, and Assemblywoman Ellen Park’s joint condemnation of the hateful.”
Similarly, the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) also issued a statement welcoming the investigation that shows that the use of the bulldozer in the Edison parade was an act of bias.