‘Howdy Modi’ event: Protests outside NRG stadium

‘Howdy Modi’ event: Protests outside NRG stadium

The protesters rally is expected to get underway after the event inside the NRG stadium begins.

As Houston’s NRG centre began to fill up with Indian-Americans attending the ‘Howdy Modi’ rally, protestors began to gather outside the venue. 

While a number of people are expected to be bussed in by separatist Khalistani and Kashmiri groups, as well as Pakistan-backed organisations, those belonging to the Alliance for Justice for Accountability held a press conference to say they would also protest, comprising activists from “Hindu, Muslim, Dalit, Sikh and Christian groups”, as well as an American Jewish group “jewish Voices for Peace” and African American minority groups like “Black lives Matter” as well. Houston police has set up strict barricades around the venue.

Calling the revocation of Article 370 and reports of Human Rights violations a “symptom of facism and anti-pluralism”, Lubabah Abdullah, the executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Houston called on US government officials not to attend the event.

However organisers said they expect more than 50 US lawmakers and more than a dozen governors to attend the event, which will be addressed by US President Donald Trump and by Senate Majority leader Steny Hoyer, who is a Democrat.

The protesters rally is expected to get underway after the event inside the NRG stadium begins, and will see speeches as well as “poetry and rap artists” perform.

Others amongst the thin line of protesters on the sidewalk outside the NRG stadium on Sunday morning welcomed an editorial by Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, published in the Houston Chronicle that criticised the event.

“When President Trump meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston, we will hear much about the friendship between the American and Indian peoples. However, there will be a deafening silence when it comes to a human rights crisis unfolding right before our eyes — and that is unacceptable,” Mr. Sanders wrote, in an the editorial, where he also criticised Pakistan for playing a “bad role in Kashmir”.

“The whole world is talking about you today,” Mr. Modi reportedly told a group of Kashmiri Pandits and Hindus who met with him at Houston’s Post Oak hotel on Saturday evening, referring to the government’s revocation of Article 370. The group was amongst a number of different communities that met with the Prime Minister a few hours after his arrival, which included the Gujarati Bohra Muslim community, and the Sikh community in America. 

Mr. Modi is also expected to make a pitch on India’s pluralistic identity during his address at the rally. Outside the venue, long lines of supporters and members of the Indian-American community gathered. Amongst them, Ramesh Modi, who was dressed to portray Mahatma Gandhi, with monocled glasses and a white dhoti said he believed Mr. Modi holds no “communal baggage” or any kind of baggage. “He doesn’t belong to any one side,” he said when asked what he thought of the protesters outside. 

Inside the venue, supporters had been directed to stands wearing or carrying placards of orange, white and green, for the Indian flag.

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