Indian communist and Islamic leaders said yesterday they plan to greet US President George W. Bush with protests against US policy in Afghanistan and the Middle East when the leader arrives later this week.
Communist politicians and Muslim leaders are predicting tens of thousands of people will turn out to protest against Bush, who arrives today.
The communists, who are key allies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government, are planning a protest tomorrow at India's Parliament, a few kilometers from where Bush and the Indian prime minister will meet in New Delhi.
"Up to 50,000 people will take part in the march, and we have police permission to express our feelings," said Pushpender Grewal, secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
"We will protest against the US policies, especially the inhuman atrocities in Afghanistan and Iraq, a likely invasion of Iran and its continuing support of Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine," Grewal said.
On Friday, Bush will head for the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, a key center of India's booming information technology industry. Muslim groups there have called for a daylong strike to protest his visit.
In Hyderabad, where Muslims comprise nearly 40 percent of the city's 7 million people, Bush plans to visit an agriculture university and a business management school.
"We are appealing to the people to keep their shops and businesses closed on the day of Bush's visit as a mark of protest," said Abdul Rahim Qureshi, a leader of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, an association of several Muslim groups that is trying to organize the strike.
"As Muslims, it is our duty," he said.
Some Mosques in Hyderabad have already unfurled banners that protest Bush's visit.
Communist groups and the Jamaat-e-Islami party, a hard-line Islamic group, also say they plan to hold a massive rally in the city on Friday.