Karanveer Pannu: Remember The Indian Flag At The Storming Of Capitol Hill

Many were perplexed. They should not have been. 

Karanveer Pannu
January 20, 2021 | 2 min. Read

The epicenter of America’s politics, often referred to as Capitol Hill, was the site of a presidential inauguration earlier today. However, it was only two weeks ago that it was stormed by thousands of Donald Trump supporters attempting to stop the certifying of Joe Biden’s electoral win. 

Many in India would like you to forget that because while America’s democratic process was being questioned through a violent insurrection that January morning, images of one protestor waving an Indian flag flooded the internet. 

Many were perplexed. They should not have been. 

One BJP politician, Varun Gandhi, tweeted, “why is there an Indian flag there? This is one fight we definitely don’t need to participate in.” The statements of condemnation, including from the likes of the Shiv Sena, are warranted and do look good on their surface. Yet, they end up brushing aside the reality of the rise in right-wing populism to which India is no stranger. It ignores the fact that this is a fight supporters of the BJP have always participated in. Which makes Gandhi’s tweet so incredibly hypocritical.

Many in India, including its decision-makers, are well aware of Modi’s relationship with Trump, and of India’s continuing descent towards fascism under the BJP. By downplaying the connection between the rhetoric spewed by Trump and Modi, Indians pretended to remain oblivious about the reality that day. 

However, the facts are clear, the individuals waiving India’s flag have connections with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The RSS is a fascist paramilitary group akin to America’s Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The fascist tactics inspired by Nazi Germany are employed by the RSS in India towards Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Dalits. Just as white supremacists are fixated on eradicating the ‘other’ or those that do not ‘look American’ from the United States. 

Modi has emboldened saffron terrorists to wreak havoc in India just like Trump has fanned the flames of bigotry in America. 

Trumpism has in fact further encouraged those like the RSS to act with impunity in its gruesome activities. The ban placed on Muslim majority countries by the Trump Administration in 2017 provided cover for others pushing islamophobic policies around the world. Three years later, India passed a series of discriminatory laws such as the Citizens Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens in a continued attempt to target India’s Muslim community. 

While many in America celebrate the end of Trump’s reign at today’s inauguration, no amount of willful ignorance can hide how similar Modi and Trump, and their supporters, really are. However, we will be here to make sure they always remember that Indian flag at the storming of Capitol Hill.

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Karanveer Pannu is a 2nd Year Graduate Student pursuing his MPA at Rutgers University. He has published a book as a senior in high school on bullying of Sikh American children. He has landed coveted internships with US Senator Cory Booker and recently with NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. In his free time, Karanveer loves learning about Sikh history, going for hikes with his beagle, and spending time with his family. You can find him on Twitter at @KaranveerPannu.

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