Outrage is growing over the planned visit of hardline Hindutva leader Sadhvi Rithambara to the UK to address several Hindu congregations.
The notorious anti-Muslim activist is due to attend several events in London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Coventry between September 20-24.
Rithambara is infamous for several public-speeches urging the waging of war against Muslims, and is widely acknowledged to be the single most powerful voice behind the whipping up of anti-Muslim sentiments across the nation in the run-up to the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1993.
Rithambara was present during the demolition of the masjid, cheering on the crowd whilst standing atop the terrace of the mosque. Three days after the demolition, she was arrested on grounds of inciting communal tension but was subsequently released.
The Liberhan Commission that probed the Babri Masjid demolition held Sadhvi Ritambhara individually culpable for leading the country “to the brink of communal discord” for her role in the demolition of the mosque.
And in April 1995, Rithambara was again arrested in Indore for inciting communal passions, after she referred to Mother Teresa as a “magician,” during a speech denouncing Christian missionaries who she alleged were converting Hindus. Rithambara’s address is said to have sparked off a riot and led to several incidents of arson, leading to the arrest of 169 people.
Shakeel Afsar, a Kashmiri activist from Birmingham, pledged to protest outside any venue in the city that Rithambara will address.
He said: “The time has come to stand in the face of extremism… Kashmiris know so well how the BJP use the anti-Muslim narrative to hurt our people for no reason other than the fact that we are Muslim. We must stand firm against these people, we must lobby Members of Parliament, we must write to our Home Secretary to ban this lady.
“And we must also ensure that if you live in any of the locations where she has been hosted to speak, we must be protesting outside those locations as well to make sure that no city in the United Kingdom would allow hate preachers from the BJP to stand and speak and push their extremist agenda.”
Meanwhile, Sam Tarry, MP for Ilford South, has written to Home Secretary Suella Braverman and London Mayor Sadiq Khan to urge them to prevent Rithambara from addressing a meeting in his constituency.
He wrote: “I am writing to you today regarding the impending visit to the U.K. of Sadhvi Rithambara, and my constituency of Ilford South, on the 23rd of September. I have already been contacted by several of my constituents, as well as the Ilford Islamic Centre, expressing their deep reservations over this planned visit. As you will know, Sadhvi Rithambara is a hugely divisive figure, known for her xenophobic speeches and rhetoric, in particular against the Muslim community in India. She was previously arrested on grounds of inciting communal violence in the wake of the Babri Masjid’s demolition, which led to the death of over 2000 people.
“It is my constituents and my belief that her Islamophobic rhetoric has no place within our multicultural and diverse community of Ilford, and I am deeply worried about the potential stoking of communal tensions, should her visit be allowed to progress. Will the Home Office and Mayor’s Office, in conjunction with the Metropolitan police consider taking any action to block this visit from going ahead?
“And will the Home Office review its decision to offer Sadhvi Rithambara entry into the UK considering her extreme beliefs and history of inciting communal tensions?”
Earlier this month Rithambara was disallowed permission for a fundraising event in the USA.
Authorities at the Old Paramus Reformed Church in Ridgewood, New Jersey, took the decision following protest calls against the event.
Reverend Robert Miller of the church stated that he had revoked approval for use of the church building after hearing from both opponents and event organisers. Miller also said that the church was not aware of the speaker’s background when the reservation was made.
Miller mentioned that the church got a flood of messages opposing Rithambara’s appearance, including more than 1,000 emails from across the USA and at least 100 phone calls a day before the event was scheduled to be held.
Last week it was announced that Rithambara’s UK tour had been postponed due to her poor health.