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Prosecutors say bulldozer at India Day was a bias incident but insufficient to pursue chargers

New York, Feb 3 (IANS) An investigation into the display of a bulldozer at the India Day Parade in New Jersey last year has said there is not enough evidence to file a bias intimidation charge, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office announced.

According to a report in nj.com, the incident was “properly reported and classified as a bias incident”. But the investigation did not reach the threshold for criminal charges, Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Chief Thomas Bryan of the Edison Police Department said in a joint press release issued late in January.

The parade, organised by the Indian Business Association (IBA), featured a bulldozer with pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. A banner next to Adityanath’s photo on the controversial float described it as “Baba ka Bulldozer”.

It was alleged that the bulldozer, a symbol of ‘hate’, was used to selectively target religious-minority communities in India — a charge which was vehemently denied by the government concerned.

The Edison Police Department had received numerous complaints concerning the bulldozer float.

“The complainants reported that the float was an offensive and Islamophobic endorsement of the divisive practice of using heavy machinery to demolish homes of alleged criminals, protestors, and rioters in India. This brand of abulldozer politics’ has been criticised as disproportionately targeting religious-minority communities in India,” the prosecutor’s office said in a press release.

Although there was insufficient cause for charges, the prosecutor’s office reiterated “its stance against hate in all forms,” the nj.com reported.

Condemning the incident, Edison’s Indian-American Mayor Sam Joshi, in a statement, said that the bulldozer was used as “a symbol of division and discrimination”.

Following Joshi’s statement, the Indian Business Association, which had organized the parade, had apologized.

“We thank the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s office for investigating the incident and welcome their decision to classify it as a bias incident,” read the statement issued by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

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