San Jose, California –During his second visit in as many years after being denied visa for nearly a decade, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi braces for protests from various organizations under the umbrella of the Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA), according to information released to the media.
“On September 27, Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, will be welcomed at SAP Center in San Jose, California, as part of his global PR campaign. Join us at the event on September 27, in safe permitted free speech areas, to tell the other side of the story,” wrote AJA on its website.
“Narendra Modi is visiting Silicon Valley to talk about ‘Digital India,’” says Anirvan Chatterjee of AJA, “but we’re worried by his record. Digital Indians deserve strong privacy and free speech protection.”
Earlier this month more than 100 academics from major US universities including Harvard, Stanford and USC, have issued a scathing critique of Indian Prime Minister Modi ahead of his visit to Silicon Valley and warned US technology executives against supporting his Digital India initiative.
“We urge those who lead Silicon Valley technology enterprises to be mindful of not violating their own codes of corporate responsibility when conducting business with a government which has, on several occasions already, demonstrated its disregard for human rights and civil liberties, as well as the autonomy of educational and cultural institutions,” the letter said.
Modi, then Chief Minister of Gujarat, was denied a US visa for nearly a decade because of the religious riots that occurred in the western state in 2002. The letter mentioned this sanguinary episode where the violence killed hundreds, mainly Muslims, while state security forces allegedly were sluggish to respond.
Notable among signatories is Wendy Doniger, a University of Chicago divinity professor whose recent book on Hinduism was taken off the shelves in India after religious fanatics objected to her account of the country’s majority faith, Hinduism.
Pieter Friedrich with the Sikh Information Center at the Alliance, added: “Silicon Valley leaders and the general American public need to recognize how dangerous Modi’s record in office is. Rather than offering Modi and his supporters an opportunity to whitewash his past crimes and gloss over his present policies, we ask them to hold Modi and his government accountable for the severe threat to the freedoms and rights of all Indians.”
Within months of taking office as Prime Minister of India, Modi visited New York last fall and delivered a speech to more than 20,000 people at Madison Square Garden and on September 27 this year, a similar address to an audience of Indian Americans in the Bay Area is scheduled.According to the AJA press release, Silicon Valley corporations wanting to do business in India have been asked to contribute towards an $800,000 fund for the event at the SAP Center.
Narendra Modi was elected as Prime Minister in May 2014 with his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) receiving only 31% of the popular vote. The AJA also listed in its campaign under the hashtag #MODIFAIL, failures of Modi government. Among a long list of railings, the AJA noted, “Modi’s government has been actively censoring internet access and activity, with a unilateral blocking of websites, including that of GitHub, Vimeo, and the Internet Archive, while also trying to revive the online censorship law struck down by India’s Supreme Court in March. The government has also increased its censorship of the Indian media.”