â€œOur parade should never be about politics and should never include these blatant divisive symbols,â€ IBA says in apology
The Indian Business Association, the organizer of the India Day Parade in Edison, New Jersey, has apologized for the inclusion of a bulldozer in its 18th annual parade on Aug 14.
In a letter to Edison Mayor Samip â€œSamâ€ Joshi and Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac, IBA president Chandrakant Patel said the organization is sorry for â€œcertain aspectsâ€ of the parade.
Read: Edison mayor lambasts use of bulldozer at India Day Parade (August 24, 2022)
These â€œreflected poorly on our organization and offended the Indian American minority groups, especially Muslims, from the local area and across the state and country.â€
â€œThe parade should be and has always been about a celebration of our Indian heritage and inclusion and diversity among our many cultures and religions,â€ Patel added.
The parade, held on Aug 14 on Oak Tree Road, covering the townships of Woodbridge and Edison, included a bulldozer, which symbolizes the demolition of Muslim properties in India.
The bulldozer was decorated with photos of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. A banner saying â€œBaba ka Bulldozerâ€ was seen next to Adityanathâ€™s photo.
â€œThe divisive imageâ€ does not reflect IBAâ€™s mission, but admitted that it offended many who have been impacted by events happening in India, as well as those who attended the parade or heard about it.
IBA did not intend to offend anyone by the symbol or the comments made by their guest speakers, the letter said. â€œOur parade should never be about politics and should never include these blatant divisive symbols. Our parade should recognize us as South Asians living in two of the best towns in the country.â€
Patel also pledged on behalf of the IBA that it will â€œnot allow these symbols in the future and that it will work with all different groups of South Asian heritage to ensure that our parade remains the best in the state.â€
The Indian American Muslim Council, shared the letter on its social media, noting that â€œanti-Muslim hate is not welcome in America.â€
It also reiterated its call for a governmental investigation into the role played by Indiaâ€™s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and OFBJP-USA in interfering with the Edison parade.
Criticizing the IBA for inclusion of a bulldozer seen as â€œa symbol of division and discrimination,â€ Joshi had in an Aug 22 statement said Edison is committed to celebrating and working in harmony with people from all cultures.
The India Day Parade is independently run and not a township-sponsored event, Joshi noted. However his office was made aware that a piece of construction equipment was used as a symbol of division and discrimination.
Any symbol or action that represents discrimination is unwelcome in Edison, he stated promising that â€œMy office will be working with stakeholders to ensure that celebrations in the future serve the best interest of our community.â€
The mayorâ€™s statement came after an Aug 19 meeting with members of leading civil rights organizations in New Jersey including the New Jersey chapter of the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) and Hindus for Human Rights, the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ), Black Lives Matter (BLM), and American Muslims for Democracy (AMD).