The Indian Business Association on Tuesday apologised for including a bulldozer during India’s Independence Day parade in the United States’ New Jersey on August 14.

The association in its apology letter to the mayors of Edison and Woodbridge townships in New Jersey acknowledged that certain aspects of the Independence Day event offended the Indian American minority groups, particularly Muslims.

A bulldozer with photos of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a placard with the words “Baba ka bulldozer” written in Hindi was among the floats at the parade. Baba is a moniker often used for Adityanath.

Over the last few months, Bharatiya Janata Party state governments in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and civic bodies run by the party in Delhi have used bulldozers to demolish houses under the guise of removing encroachments. Most of these drives were targeted at properties owned by Muslims.

While there are no provisions under Indian law to demolish the home of anyone accused of a crime, this pattern has been regularly observed across BJP-ruled states.

On Tuesday, the Indian Business Association said that the parade should have been a celebration of the inclusion and diversity of cultures and religions.

“Unfortunately there was a bulldozer among the floats in the parade which is a divisive image that did not reflect our mission,” it said. “Our parade should never be about politics and should never include these blatant divisive symbols. Our parade should recognise us as South Asians living in two of the best towns in the country.”

On August 16, the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relation along with rights groups Indian American Muslim Council and Hindus for Human Rights issued statements against the use of the bulldozer in the parade, describing it as a “brazen display of hate”.

Samip Joshi, the mayor of Edison township in New Jersey, criticised the inclusion of a bulldozer by Hindutva groups saying that “any symbol or action that represents discrimination is unwelcome”. He added that the parade was not sponsored by the township.