OFMI – Gandhi Interrupted: “What have you done for India’s minorities?”

Rajmohan Gandhi challenged on his grandfather’s racism and sexual abuse

Berkeley – California – USA, 23 October 2019. As Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of the iconic Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi,” appeared at University of California, Berkeley on October 22, his presentation was interrupted by a man challenging Rajmohan about his grandfather’s alleged legacy of racism and sexual abuse.

“We politely presented the organizers with a prepared list of seven questions about Gandhi,” says Bhajan Singh, who disrupted the event. “They ignored our questions and made it clear that Rajmohan would not entertain any criticism. I felt the only way to draw attention to these issues was to stand up and just start speaking.”

Singh, a former director of Organization for Minorities of India, did just that.

He began by explaining that he was speaking in support of movements against Gandhi statues in Malawi, Ghana, and Gwinnett County, Georgia. “They are opposing the legacy, the racist legacy, of your grandfather,” said Singh.

“They are also opposing that why you continue to promote this racist man, who was responsible for the pre-apartheid era?” He continued, “This is my question: why are you apologetic? He raped your own grand-cousins, Manu and Abha.”

As he spoke, Singh unfurled a sign reading: “Gandhi was a sex-offender.”

“Gandhi is no role model,” comments OFMI spokesperson Arvin Valmuci. “It is well-documented that he conducted so-called celibacy tests by sleeping naked with his teenage grandnieces, Manu and Abha, an action which would generally be interpreted as sexual molestation.

That was at the end of his life, but from the beginning and well into his 40s, he actively and successfully campaigned for racial segregation in pre-apartheid South Africa.”

Referring to Rajmohan’s past explanation that the “younger Gandhi” was sometimes “ignorant and prejudiced about South Africa’s blacks,” Singh asked at the event, “You keep saying he was young and naive, but at what point did he change?”

Rajmohan Gandhi was present at UC Berkeley to discuss the issue of “Hindu Nationalism in Gandhi’s India.” Yet Valmuci notes that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party lays claim to Gandhi’s legacy.

“In Gandhi, we have the best teacher to guide us,” Modi recently wrote in an 02 October published in The New York Times in honor of Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary.

“We don’t need to hear from you,” Singh told Rajmohan at the event. “We can Google. We can Google what Modi’s doing. What are you doing over there? What have you done for the minorities of India? What have you done for the people who were killed, who were lynched? What have you done?”

“It is for the people of America to talk about Gandhi’s sexual abuse of women,” concluded Singh as he was escorted out of the event. “I came to speak for the victims of the sexual abuse of Gandhi. I speak for Manu and Abha.”

Brian Isai, an associate director of OFMI, says that two things struck him about Singh’s protest. “It was very odd how Rajmohan Gandhi remained a mute spectator throughout the whole incident, but one man in the audience stood up and said that he would give an answer for Rajmohan regarding the question of Gandhi’s racism,” comments Isai.

“Another thing is that Mr Singh, during his protest, answered a question that Rajmohan failed to properly address. A member of the audience previously asked about who India’s Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh looks to for inspiration in the outside world. Rajmohan hemmed and hawed, but Mr Singh clearly and correctly stated that the RSS looks to Hitler for inspiration.”

“We applaud Bhajan Singh, our former director, for his passion for the truth,” concludes Valmuci. “It’s important to remember that the BJP stands for Hindutva, but Gandhi and his legacy represents soft Hindutva.

India’s oppressed minorities find no balm for their wounds in the assimilationist rhetoric of Gandhi.” Asserting that Gandhi shared the RSS’s goal of turning India into a Hindu nation, Valmuci points to a comment by Gandhi made in 1947, where he stated:

“It cannot be said that Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism are separate religions. All these four faiths and their offshoots are one. Hinduism is an ocean into which all the rivers run. It can absorb Islam and Christianity and all the other religions and only then can it become an ocean. Otherwise it remains merely a stream along which large ships cannot ply.”

“With the tensions between India and Pakistan creating a risk of a nuclear flashpoint, minorities are apprehensive about both Gandhi and Modi,” explains Balbir Singh Dhillon. A former victim of torture by Indian police, he now serves as president of the West Sacramento Sikh Gurdwara.

“Rajmohan Gandhi wants us to pick the convenient choice, but his lip service for peace shows how he is just another player in the game of smoke and mirrors. If Rajmohan is serious about stopping Hindu nationalism, why doesn’t he take some initiative in India instead of hoodwinking masses here in America?”

The seven questions presented to the organizers at the outset of the event were printed in a pamphlet which was widely distributed to those in attendance. They were as follows:

  1.  Why did your grandfather never admit to or apologize for working for racial segregation in colonial South Africa, which laid the foundations for full-blown apartheid? You can argue that he was “young and naive,” but his track record of anti-black racism continued into his 40s.
  2. South African author Ashwin Desai writes: “Gandhi believed in the Aryan brotherhood. This involved whites and Indians higher up than Africans on the civilized scale.” Gandhi himself said that he believed the “white race… should be the predominating race.” Was Gandhi a white supremacist?
  3. During the Bambatha rebellion in South Africa, which led to a massacre of Zulu tribesmen, why did Gandhi encourage Indians to take up arms against Africans?
  4. Why did Gandhi lie in his autobiography about his reasons for joining the British Army to fight Zulus? His autobiography says he joined to nurse wounded Zulus, but his writings before the war say he joined because “there is hardly any family from which someone has not gone to fight the Kaffir rebels” and also because “now is the time when the leading whites want us to take this step.”
  5. There is a mountain of evidence showcasing how Gandhi was racist and casteist, both in South Africa and India, from the age of 23 until his death. When did he admit his faults? When exactly did he change his views?
  6. Why did Gandhi call the caste system “scientific” and do you agree with him that “one acquires one’s caste by birth”?
  7. If a 77 year old man in America forced his teenage nieces to sleep with him naked, he would be arrested for sexual abuse. If he argued that he was only doing it to test his celibacy, he would be considered crazy. What compassion do you feel for your very own cousins, Manu and Abha, who were abused by your grandfather? Why do you continue propagating a sexual predator?

Organization for Minorities of India was founded in 2006 to advance individual liberties of Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and all Mulnivasi people of South Asia by encouraging secularism, progressive human rights, liberation of oppressed peoples, and universal human dignity.

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