Indian American coalition calls on India's Election Commission to take decisive action; urges Hindu American Foundation to condemn hate speeches
Maryland, USA (April 22, 2014): The Coalition Against Genocide (CAG) today condemned statements by senior leaders of Hindu nationalist organizations, collectively known as the Sangh Parivar, openly inciting people to violence against religious minorities. These leaders also claimed that all Indians who are opposed to the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi will be driven out of India into neighboring Pakistan after the ongoing parliamentary elections.
Hindu nationalism, also known as Hindutva, is a supremacist ideology that aims to establish a theocratic Hindu state in India. It is different from the religion of Hinduism which espouses pluralist traditions. The founding fathers of Hindutva visited Mossoulini's Italy to study Fascism and borrowed the concept of religious nationalism from Fascism and Nazism.
In a clear manifestation of the outlines of fascism driving the Hindutva supremacist movement, four senior Hindutva leaders - two from the BJP, another from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), and the fourth from the Shiv Sena, unambiguously stated their position with regard to the fate of Modi's critics and that of India's 200 million religious minorities.
The season of vitriol was opened by Modi's campaign manager and BJP strongman Amit Shah, currently out on bail for staging fake encounter killings of Muslims and banned by the Supreme Court from entering Gujarat. Shah delivered a speech in a village near Muzaffarnagar, which was the site of a bloody anti-minority pogrom last year. Shah described the elections as an opportunity to seek "revenge" against the minorities. The fact that the Election Commission initially banned Shah and then lifted the ban, opened the doors for more hate speeches to follow.
Shiv Sena MLC Ramdas Kadam while sharing the stage with Prime Ministerial contender Narendra Modi himself, yesterday threatened revenge against Muslims and assured the audience that Modi would "destroy Pakistan in six months of assuming power." It is worth noting that Narendra Modi himself had given a speech in which he stated that "Pakistan will be wiped off the world map".
In a recent public election rally in Jharkhand, Giriraj Singh, a senior leader of the BJP had stated, "Those opposing Narendra Modi are looking towards Pakistan. In the coming days, such people will have no place in India. They will only find a place in Pakistan."
A few days later Mr. Pravin Togadia, a man infamously associated with decades of violent incitement and hate speeches, was caught on camera calling for the eviction of all Muslims from areas where Hindus live. In the same speech he gloated about having used violence to drive Muslim families out of their homes.
Addressing a gathering in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, Togadia said, "We should have it in us to take the law in our own hands in an area where we are a majority and scare them." Togadia further suggested that another option is to occupy a Muslim's property by force and confound the owner in a legal case that could take years to resolve.
"Messrs. Shah, Giriraj, Togadia and Kadam have given all Indians a chilling reminder of the violent and repressive agenda of the Sangh Parivar organizations and of the Hindutva ideology in general," said Mr. Alex Koshy, a CAG spokesperson.
CAG has called on the Election Commission to impose an immediate ban on any more speeches by these leaders, and also called on the government to initiate criminal proceedings against them for inciting people to violence. "Even before the election is complete, Hindutva supremacists are letting the world know about their intentions," added Mr. Koshy.
In another development that is deeply reflective of the violent payload carried by a potential BJP-led government, four veteran MLAs were replaced in the state of UP, to allow individuals accused of mob violence in Muzaffarnagar to contest the elections as BJP's candidates.
Over the last decade, CAG has called attention to the immense danger posed by the growing prominence of the supremacist Hindutva movement. Although the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi can potentially lead his party to power in New Delhi, it bears reminding that the dangers posed by the Hindutva movement to the democratic and pluralistic fabric of Indian society is undeniably real.
Hindu Nationalism in the United States
Over the last one year, CAG has warned about organizations in the United States attempting to make Modi and Hindutva palatable to the American public. Outfits such as the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), have remained steadfast in defending Hindutva, by serving as apologists for Hindutva violence across India, and obscuring Mr. Modi's role in the 2002 genocide in Gujarat. The organized pogrom of 2002, in which more than two thousand Muslim men, women and children were brutally massacred under Mr. Modi's watch, was masterminded by the very organizations that are now promising more of the same, should the BJP come to power. The threat to India's democracy and secularism posed by Hindutva supremacists was brought to the fore during the recent Congressional hearings on the plight of religious minorities in India. Organizations with global credibility such as Human Rights Watch, The Advocates for Human Rights and the US Commission for International Religious Freedom testified to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission about the Hindutva organizations' history of repression against religious minorities in India.
Despite overwhelming evidence available to charge Modi with crimes against humanity, a lower court in Gujarat has protected Modi from prosecution by completely ignoring the evidence amassed by lawyers representing victims and survivors, human rights activists, eyewitness accounts, and even whistle-blower testimonies. During this time CAG warned that the real danger posed by Modi is the fact that his entry into the mainstream would endorse and empower the violent extremism of the RSS which he aptly and loyally represents. The HAF has done its part as part of the Hindutva mosaic, by maligning Mr. Modi's critics, and smearing human rights activists as "anti-India."
The uncritical support given by HAF to Mr. Modi and the Sangh is essentially an affirmation of HAF's Hindutva links that CAG had established through its reports, titled "Affiliations of Faith (Parts I and II)." CAG calls upon the HAF to publicly condemn the hate speeches made by Mr. Giriraj, Mr. Togadia and Mr. Kadam, and to take a stand against the Sangh Parivar actively fanning the flames of acrimony and hate against minorities in India.
"There could not be a clearer sign of the danger posed by the Modi-led Hindutva movement to a US-India relationship founded on a shared common democratic culture and pluralistic ethos," said Dr. Raja Swamy, also a CAG spokesperson. "Now that Hindutva leaders have gone public with their agenda, in all its terroristic malevolence, HAF's silence should convince everyone that it represents neither Hinduism nor mainstream Indian Americans of any faith including Hinduism," added Dr Swamy.
US Congresspersons are urged to act decisively to ensure that this chauvinistic movement whose leaders clearly espouse a desire to conduct violent politics of hate and domination, abrogating the principles of constitutional democracy and citizenship, be treated as such, and not as falsely portrayed by the likes of the HAF. By co-sponsoring House Resolution 417, the US Congress can take a principled stand against attempts to subvert India's longstanding secular Constitution.
The Coalition Against Genocide is composed of a diverse group of Indian American organizations and individuals that have come together in response to the Gujarat genocide to demand accountability and justice.
Source: The Milli Gazette