Edison community divided regarding bulldozer used in Indian Day parade seen by some as Islamophobic
The Edison community is divided after a bulldozer was featured in the India Independence Day parade in town.
Many residents and advocates are demanding that someone take responsibility for using the bulldozer, which is seen by some as a symbolic attack on those of the Islamic faith.
Advocacy groups have accused the Indian government of so-called “bulldozer justice,” which are said to be illegal demolitions of largely Muslim-owned properties in India.
"The symbol of the bulldozer is a clear message of intimidation,” says Dylan Terpstra, of the New Jersey Council on American-Islamic Relations.
He says it is intimidation against India’s religious minorities. Most in India are Hindu. Terpstra also says that it shows the parade’s positive message was hijacked.
"The entire parade, not just this bulldozer, was about their political view in India and not necessarily all Indian Americans,” Terpstra says.
The parade has been celebrated in the community for more than 30 years. The Indian Business Association runs it. This downtown drives the local economy. But the chairman of the group says he is not apologizing.
"Why should I feel sorry? We did not do anything wrong,” says Chandrakant Patel.
He says this situation is being misrepresented.
Some Edison residents showed up at Wednesday’s Town Council meeting. There were tense moments.
The Business Group says the bulldozing in India is not about Muslims but anyone breaking law. They say they are only sorry that people don't know that.
"I feel sorry about them feeling the wrong thing, so what I can do?” asks Patel.
But some residents say the business association is just trying to downplay what happened.
"Their effort is futile because the message is out. People know right from wrong,” says Edison resident Impiaz Siamwalla.
Edison Council President Joseph Coyle says that the bulldozer had no place at the parade. Many politicians marched in the parade. They say that they didn’t know there was a bulldozer there or what it symbolized.