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India and US Seeing Rise in Hate Crimes, Says Martin Luther King III

Governments in both countries have “little regard” for the poor, says rights activist Martin Luther King III at conference hosted by Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

Deepa Balakrishnan | CNN-News18deepab18

Updated:July 22, 2017, 9:09 AM IST
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India and US Seeing Rise in Hate Crimes, Says Martin Luther King III
Rights activist Martin Luther King III delivered the inaugural address at the symposium on Friday. (File photo/Reuters)
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Bengaluru: A day after the BJP sent a strong political message by ensuring an emphatic victory for Ram Nath Kovind in presidential elections, a three-day conference in Congress-ruled Karnataka on Dalit icon BR Ambedkar triggered a parallel narrative on the state of Dalits in the country.

In his inaugural address at the symposium on Friday, human rights activist and social reformer Martin Luther King III drew a parallel between India and the US, saying both countries are now ruled by people who have “little regard” for the poor, and where there is no respect for the rule of law.

King III said both India and the US are seeing a rise in hate crimes — a sweeping indictment of the Modi and Trump governments.

Martin Luther King III delivers the inaugural address at the conference. (News18)
Martin Luther King III delivers the inaugural address at the conference. (News18)

"A California State University research says there have been over 1,000 hate crimes in the US since the 2016 election. And here (in India), cow vigilantes kill Muslims and Dalits as the police stand by," King III, the son of acclaimed civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr, said.

He was addressing 2,000 delegates at the conference, including Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, Dr BR Ambedkar's grandson Prakash Ambedkar and Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi.

“If my father were here, he would have stood by the Dalit demonstrations that the country is seeing in different places,” King III added, drawing parallels between the values espoused by Ambedkar and King Jr.

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Martin Luther King III with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and other dignitaries at the conference. (News18)

The conference is being hosted by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah at a time when the Congress is trying to retain power in a state that has a majority population of Dalits and OBCs.

The state is headed to polls in April 2018.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah welcomes Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi at the conference. (News18) Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah welcomes Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi at the conference. (News18)

The conference is also symbolic of the nation-wide turf war for a larger contest in the offing for Dalit votes which has traditionally been with the Congress since Independence. The BJP, in the last three years, has made a concerted attempt to impinge on this constituency.

Siddaramaiah, who will be seeking a fresh mandate in the coming months, hit out at the central government.

"Today we are told that being a good Indian means we have to ignore the inequality and exploitation in our midst. I reject such majoritarianism. It is opposed to the spirit of the Constitution,” he said.

The three-day conference would conclude with a 'Bangalore Declaration' that outlines specific constitutional and institutional ways to respond to attacks on social justice.
| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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