OFMI – “Fascist” Indian group’s presentation to police in Indiana sparks outrage

Carmel PD faces backlash for hosting RSS paramilitary’s international wing

Carmel – Indiana – USA, 12 February 2020. Although the Carmel Police Department was proud to host the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, social media outcry has been far less sweet to the Indiana law enforcement agency.

On 06 February, the HSS gave Carmel, Indiana police officers a presentation about the history of Hinduism and India. Presenters, however, may have neglected to mention that the HSS is the international wing of India’s Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

A uniformed paramilitary with an estimated six million members, the RSS has been accused of violence against Indian minorities, an allegation repeatedly raised by hundreds of furious commenters on Facebook and Twitter.

“The HSS/RSS was formed with inspiration from Italian fascists and the Nazi regime,” wrote Khalid Azam on Carmel PD’s Facebook post about the event.

A leader in the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), Azam added, “The founder of the Hindu nationalist movement met with Mussolini and collaborated with Nazis to establish a similar fascist movement in India, now represented by RSS and its overseas branch, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh.

These are the same people that burnt alive a Christian missionary family in India, have been attacking churches in India, and are currently sexually assaulting women in Delhi, India’s capital.”

Govind Acharya, a member of Amnesty International USA’s Board of Directors, commented on Twitter, “This seems rather troubling.” Navjot Kaur of California, who works with persecuted refugees from India, was more direct. Calling it a “massive misuse of taxpayers’ money,” Kaur wrote on Facebook, “Respected Carmel PD, I am sure you have lot better to do than wasting time on learning about a foreign paramilitary fueled by Nazi propaganda.”

Also on Facebook, North Carolina Democratic Party Executive Committee Member Elyas Mohammed wrote, “Police department is for public service and protecting citizens. Such departments shouldn’t associate themselves with controversial organizations such as RSS/HSS, which has some serious charges of hate and violence against minorities in India.”

Concerns over HSS’s involvement with American police stem from the RSS’s collaboration with police in anti-minority massacres in India.

In 2002, when approximately 2,000 Muslims were killed in the Indian state of Gujarat, Human Rights Watch reported that the RSS was the “umbrella group” behind the Hindu nationalist organizations responsible for the violence. Describing how the violence was “organized with extensive police participation,” HRW reported:

“In almost all of the incidents documented by Human Rights Watch, the police were directly implicated in the attacks. At best they were passive observers, and at worse they acted in concert with murderous mobs and participated directly in the burning and looting of Muslim shops and homes and the killing and mutilation of Muslims.

In many cases, under the guise of offering assistance, the police led the victims directly into the hands of their killers. Many of the attacks on Muslim homes and places of business also took place in close proximity to police posts.

Panicked phone calls made to the police, fire brigades, and even ambulance services generally proved futile. Many witnesses testified that their calls either went unanswered or that they were met with responses such as: ‘We don’t have any orders to save you’.”

The controversy in Carmel comes mere months after the city’s police department sparked similar outrage for hosting an HSS celebration of Raksha Bandhan, a traditional Hindu ceremony.

Commenting on Carmel PD’s Facebook post about the August 2019 event, IAMC founding member Shaik Ubaid wrote that “no US police department should have anything to do” with the HSS.

“The HSS is the international wing of the RSS, a violent and supremacist paramilitary in India whose founders praised Nazi racial policy and modeled themselves along the same lines as the Hitler Youth,” Ubaid explained. “They display pictures of these founders at most of their gatherings. They are a fascist organization, not a religious group.”

“Under the guise of celebrating Raksha Bandhan, the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh infiltrated the Carmel Police Department,” says Arvin Valmuci of Organization for Minorities of India.

“We are deeply disturbed that the HSS, which represents a violent Hindu nationalist movement in India, is now lecturing police in Indiana about Hinduism. The presence of the fascist HSS/RSS in an American police department frightens minorities of Indian origin and inculcates a feeling of deep insecurity.”

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. Visit OFMI.org for more information.

www.OFMI.org

OFMI – RSS Occupies San Francisco Indian Consulate Premises to Support Citizenship Law

Human rights group issues “Bloodshed Beacon” for social conditions in Modi’s India

San Francisco – California – USA, 29 January 2020. On India’s 70th Republic Day, the San Francisco Consulate hosted a small rally organized by local leaders in India’s powerful Hindu nationalist paramilitary, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), in support of the country’s controversial new Citizenship Amendment Act.

Approximately 1000 Indian-Americans faced off against the consulate’s rally to protest for “Azadi” (freedom). “The RSS wants to make India a religious apartheid state,” warned Mohamad Khan as he held a sign: “#RejectCAA, make India secular again.”

Protestors in at least 30 US cities flooded the streets on January 26 to raise the alarm about risk to religious freedom under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration. All seven of India’s diplomatic mission in the US were protested. Standing on the fenced consulate grounds, around 50 people rallied in support of Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Demonstrators appeared led by Romesh Japra, a local newspaper publisher, and Chandru Bhambhra, the Bay Area president of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh. Bhambhra is also former president of the Overseas Friends of the BJP. The HSS is the international wing of the RSS; the OFBJP is the BJP.

“The consulate is sold out to the RSS,” said Balbir Singh Dhillon, president of West Sacramento Sikh Gurdwara. “Where is the democracy in letting partisan groups occupy a diplomatic office? The consulate let itself become a symbol of the RSS. The consulate represents Modi when it should represent all Indians.”

On January 29, Organization for Minorities of India issued a Bloodshed Beacon for India. The warning is issued when social conditions present a high risk for a state-sponsored massacre.

“Modi is sending his police out to murder anti-CAA protestors in India,” warned Arvin Valmuci, OFMI spokesperson. “BJP Minister Anurag Thakur was caught raising slogans of ‘Shoot the Traitors,’ meaning protestors.

We just saw how RSS demonstrators at the San Francisco consulate behaved like hired thugs. Indian social conditions currently present an extremely high risk situation for Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, and most minority communities.”

“The pro-CAA people were mostly all men who looked like they were operating under orders,” said Pieter Friedrich, an author who spoke at the protest against the CAA. “The group was being directed by Bhambhra and India Post publisher Japra.

The rally was obviously happening with the consulate’s sanction and played Bollywood tunes over a loudspeaker. The other side was a very mixed crowd. Lots of families with small children. They played live music.”

At the protest, Friedrich warned, “Under Modi’s iron-fisted regime, Christians, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and every Hindu who disagrees with the hate, violence, and supremacy of the RSS lives in fear of their lives.”

“The RSS is responsible for lynchings, assassinations, bombings, and pogroms against Christians, Muslims, and anyone who stands up against its xenophobic agenda,” explained Jada Bernard, an activist who recently protested Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard for her alleged ties to the RSS.

“This began as us speaking up for our neighbors across the globe, but now we have to protect our own children from these poisonous policies infecting our politics. We’ve got American politicians are actively backing the RSS’s foreign policy goals.”

In 2018, OFMI reported that at least 15 diplomats in nine countries had recently participated in RSS events abroad. Former Indian envoy Deb Muhharji called it “absolutely shocking.” Former foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon warned that “civil services are being politicized,” saying, “They are supposed to represent India, not any individual party or sect or group.”

In 2019, OFMI reported that the HSS was “infiltrating” government offices throughout the US, including those of two congressmen and nine law enforcement departments. “The presence of the RSS’s international wing in American police departments frightens minorities of Indian origin and inculcates a feeling of deep insecurity,” said Valmuci.

“This is an attempt by the HSS to legitimize a fascist paramilitary responsible for state-sanctioned pogroms against minorities in India.”

The 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. Visit OFMI.org for more information.

www.OFMI.org

OFMI – Tulsi Gabbard refuses invitation to “Howdy Modi” event in Texas

Gabbard drops out after Hindu-American congressman’s call to “reject Hindutva”

Houston – Texas – USA, 15 September 2019. An anonymous source within Tulsi Gabbard’s 2020 presidential campaign has confirmed to the Organization for Minorities of India that, despite widespread reportage by Indian media that she will attend, the US congresswoman has refused an invitation to join Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 22 September pep rally in Houston, Texas.

Gabbard’s decision to drop out of the event, dubbed “Howdy Modi,” follows on the heels of Congressman Ro Khanna’s statement, issued last month, that “it’s the duty of every American politician of Hindu faith to stand for pluralism, reject Hindutva, and speak for equal rights for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Christians.”

Her action marks a significant change in engagement with India’s controversial premier considering she has previously met with him on four occasions.

“Khanna’s statement was immediately recognized by South Asian politicos as a seismic shift in Indo-centric politics,” wrote Amar Shergill on September 3.

An attorney who serves as an executive board member of the California Democratic Party, Shergill continued, “He is the highest ranking American elected official of Indian origin, with a deep understanding of and connection to South Asian politics, and, yet, he stated in decisive moral terms that the dominant political ideology of India must be rejected as a matter of fundamental human rights.”

Hindutva, defined by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom as an ideology that treats non-Hindus as foreign to India, is the guiding philosophy of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

The BJP’s Modi, who campaigned as a Hindu nationalist, stated in 2013, “My identity is of a Hindutvawadi [follower of Hindutva].” V D Savarkar, who popularized Hindutva as a religious nationalist political ideology in his 1923 book of the same name, stated, “India must be a Hindu land, reserved for the Hindus.”

In 2014, Gabbard appeared at events celebrating Modi’s election, even wearing scarves bearing the BJP logo. Later, at their first meeting, Gabbard gifted Modi her childhood copy of the Bhagavad Gita on which she had taken the oath of office.

In 2016, she called Modi “a leader whose example and dedication to the people he serves should be an inspiration to elected official everywhere.”

Since 2018, the Hawaiian congresswoman has faced repeated protest for her long-term association with American Hindutva groups, particularly the Overseas Friends of the BJP and the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh.

HSS is the international wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a paramilitary founded on Savarkar’s Hindutva ideology and inspired by fascist movements in Europe. Gabbard’s oldest and most faithful donors include HSS Vice-President Ramesh Bhutada of Houston, who joined BJP (and former RSS) spokesperson Ram Madhav at her 2015 wedding in Hawaii.

Bhutada, as reported by a recent profile of Gabbard, worked from Texas to help elect Modi in India. He reportedly organized a phone bank of 700 volunteers and described US-based preparations for supporting Modi’s campaign as “almost like that for an Indian wedding.” He later called Modi’s election “a second independence for India.”

Several of Gabbard’s other Houston-based donors, such as Bhutada’s relative and business associate Vijay Pallod, traveled to India to campaign for the BJP.

“This is the second time I’ve seen Tulsi drop out of an RSS-sponsored event at the very last minute,” says Jada Bernard, an activist who has protested Gabbard on the presidential campaign trail. In September 2018, Bernard explains, Gabbard announced her withdrawal from the World Hindu Congress in Chicago just three days before the event began.

“Tulsi only withdrew after months of fierce protests by Indian minorities and her own constituents.” he adds. “Because the RSS chief was the keynote speaker, several other Hindu politicians also backed out. We’re seeing Hindus around the world speaking out against Hindutva and reject it as an embarrassment to their religion.”

“As the American public grows more knowledgeable about the violence and hate produced by Hindutva, Congresswoman Gabbard has faced increasing pressure to disassociate from groups that embrace this supremacist ideology,” remarks OFMI’s Arvin Valmuci.

“As Modi’s regime has done nothing except fuel the rise of the RSS and its vicious atrocities against India’s Dalits, Sikhs, Christians, and Muslims, we are encouraged to see Hindu politicians like Ro Khanna and Tulsi Gabbard rejecting association with him.
We call on all other American politicians of every background to follow their lead and abandon their support for Modi and his agenda of supremacy.”

Balbir Singh Dhillon, president of West Sacramento Sikh Gurdwara, says he wants more congressional representatives to speak out against Modi. “This is such a risky situation that Modi has created in South Asia,” comments Dhillon.

“Look at how his policy in Kashmir has caused tension between these three nuclear-armed powers: China, Pakistan, India. Standing up against Hindu nationalism is a matter of grave concern for American foreign policy.”

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.

Visit www.OFMI.org for more information.

India’s Caravan Magazine’s Cover Story on Tulsi Gabbard & Sangh Parivar

Pieter Friedrich 02 September 2019

“All in the Family: The American Sangh’s Affair With Tulsi Gabbard”

India’s only narrative journalism magazine, The Caravan, published an August 2019 cover story by Pieter Friedrich about USA Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a presidential candidate, and her extensive ties (financial and otherwise) to the American affiliates of the Sangh Parivar (the family of organizations springing from India’s Rashtriya Swamasevak Sangh – RSS).

Hidden behind a paywall for the month of August, the article is now free to read.

The article details how and why hundreds of Indian Americans affiliated with Sangh groups, including nearly 60 executives in organizations like Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, and Overseas Friends of the BJP, donated extensively to Representative Tulsi Gabbard’s congressional campaign.

It documents how she received over 20% of her congressional campaign financing from these sources during 2013, her first year in office, rising to nearly 25% in 2014.

It further explains how Gabbard’s rise in US politics is inexplicable until one considers how Sangh donations gave her a leg up when she was a virtual unknown.

The first Indian-American donors to her congressional campaign are top executives in RSS affiliates in the US. Gabbard emerged on the US political scene at a pivotal moment for the Sangh’s aspiration to see Modi as the Indian prime minister.

Many of her most generous oldest and most generous Sangh-affiliated donors were the key organizers of a US campaign to assist Modi’s election, several of them even traveled to India to campaign for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in person.

The greatest diplomatic triumph for the Sangh was rehabilitating Modi’s reputation in the US. Gabbard played a significant part in that.

Comments About Caravan profile on Tulsi Gabbard

“Important article. It’s the duty of every American politician of Hindu faith to stand for pluralism, reject Hindutva, and speak for equal rights for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Christians.” — Congressman Ro Khanna

“For anyone STILL lionizing Tulsi Gabbard, this article… detailing how US affiliates of RSS, Hindu nationalist paramilitary in India, financed her rise should disabuse you of any confusion.” — Azadeh Shahshahani, social justice attorney

“Extremely detailed piece.” — Shaukeen Phoenix, journalist

“Reminder that Tulsi Gabbard’s rise in American politics is based on a blood-stained foundation of Hindu nationalism.” — Dr. Alf Gunvald Nilsen, professor

“How (extreme) right-leaning Indian-Americans are a big financial backbone for the 2020 Presidential aspirant.” — Raju Narisetti, journalist

“Interesting – very long read.” — Harini Calamur, filmmaker

“This looks like a really fascinating long read about Tulsi Gabbard and her relationship with American Hindutva organizations.” — Hari Prasad, Middle East & South Asia researcher

“A deep probe.” — Richard Fox Young, professor

“A timely reminder of Gabbard’s deep ties to the diaspora Hindu right.” — Anjali Kamat, journalist

“Fascinating.” — Caroline Gray, policy program coordinator

“A fascinating story of how Indian Americans and Hindu nationalists in India are backing Tulsi Gabbard.” — Darryn Boodan, writer

“In the race to be the US Democratic Presidential candidate, but being promoted by India’s Hindu Supremacists.” — Ashok Swain, professor

Pieter Friedrich is a South Asian Affairs Analyst who resides in California. He is the co-author of Captivating the Simple-Hearted: A Struggle for Human Dignity in the Indian Subcontinent. Discover more by him at

www.pieterfriedrich.net.

OFMI – International Wing of RSS Penetrates Government Offices Across America

USA affiliate of Indian paramilitary hosts events with police, fire departments, and elected officials

USA – 26 August 2019. Since 09 August, the international wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has hosted events in at least 17 government offices throughout the US, including those of two congressmen and nine law enforcement departments, in a coordinated campaign which a US-based human rights group warns is “an attempt to legitimize a fascist paramilitary responsible for pogroms against minorities in India.”

“Under the guise of celebrating Raksha Bandhan, a traditional Hindu ceremony, the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh infiltrated multiple government offices, including many police departments,” says Arvin Valmuci of Organization for Minorities of India.

“Leaving aside the question of whether or not these government agencies should officially participate in a religious ceremony, they should absolutely have nothing to do with the HSS, which is the international wing of the RSS. This is an attempt by the HSS to legitimize a fascist paramilitary responsible for pogroms against minorities in India.”

Participating government agencies include nine law enforcement departments in eight states, four fire departments in four states, and four elected officials in four states. US Congressional Representatives Bill Foster (D-IL) and Scott Peters (D-CA) are among the participants.

In Texas, Fort Bend County Commissioner Andy Meyers faced outcry on Facebook after sharing pictures of his participation. He subsequently revised his post to note that he was approached by a charter school requesting that he meet with local students, implying that he was not informed that the event would be hosted by the HSS. He has since deleted the post entirely.

“The HSS is the international wing of the RSS, a violent and supremacist paramilitary in India whose founders praised Nazi racial policy and modeled themselves along the same lines as the Hitler Youth,” wrote Haziq Jeelani on the Facebook of New Jersey’s Woodbridge Township Mayor John McCormac.

“They display pictures of these founders at most of their gatherings. They are a fascist organization not a religious group. They are trying to normalize themselves and lend credibility to themselves by such photo ops. Please refrain from associating with them.”

“Hi, actual person with ties to Coppell here,” wrote Sai Chimata on the Facebook of Texas’s Coppell Police Department. “Why the hell did y’all take these people seriously? Next time, do your research!

The HSS is a foreign offshoot of the RSS, a militant Hindu nationalist organization in India, a literal paramilitary that’s been involved in some of India’s worst riots and pogroms. HSS-USA is essentially engaged in whitewashing Hindu nationalism abroad and promoting it among the diaspora.”

On the Facebook of Illinois’s Naperville Police Department, Khalid Azam wrote, “What a disgrace!” Azam, a founding member of Indian American Muslim Council, continued, “This is a fascist organization (fascist is not being used as a slur here), HSS and its parent org, RSS, was founded by Moonje and others who visited Mussolini and Hitler and sought advice on how a similar organization and movement rooted in Fascism can be created in India.

These founders have statements on the record defending fascism and Hitler’s treatment of Jews.”

“Seems RSS Hindutva Fascists, who are killing innocent Christians and other minorities, wanting an all Hindu state, are preparing groundwork in the US,” wrote Ranjit Singh on the Facebook of California’s San Ramon Police Department. “It seems they have vested very heavily into pulling this off in all police stations in the US. Wow, watch out!”

“Clearly, the Howard County Police Department is not aware that the HSS is the international wing of the RSS,” wrote Miriam Joseph on the Facebook of the Maryland law enforcement agency. “They are extremist Hindu supremacists who regularly lynch and kill Christians and Muslims in India. It was one of their members who shot and killed Mahatma Gandhi.”

In the 21st century, the RSS is most notorious for staging two major pogroms against Indian minorities.

In 2008, around 100 Christians were massacred in the Indian state of Odisha. Their churches and homes were burned and tens of thousands were made refugees. Odishan Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who was in office during the pogrom, reported, “Members of RSS were involved in the violence.”

In 2002, around 2000 Muslims were massacred in the Indian state of Gujarat. Reporting on the violence, Human Rights Watch stated, “The groups most directly responsible for violence against Muslims in Gujarat include the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal, the ruling BJP, and the umbrella organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps, RSS), all of whom collectively form the Sangh Parivar (or ‘family’ of Hindu nationalist groups).

These organizations, although different in many respects, have all promoted the argument that because Hindus constitute the majority of Indians, India should be a Hindu state.”

HRW’s report was entitled “We Have No Orders To Save You,” which is what several witnesses reported the police told them when they appealed for rescue from their attackers. Graffiti discovered on torched Muslim institutions declared, “The police are with us.”
After the violence ended, many testified that police refused to file charges on behalf of the victims or record the names of the accused.

Award-winning Indian author Arundhati Roy explains that, in the years before the pogrom in Gujarat, “the police, the administration, and the political cadres at every level” were “systematically penetrated.” Roy states, “The RSS runs a shadow government that functions through tens of thousands of shakhas (branches) and other ideologically affiliated organizations with different names, some of them astonishingly violent, spread across the country. The RSS today has white supremacists and racists from the United States and Europe circling around it.”

“We appreciate the open welcome government agencies in America provide to people of all religions, races, and backgrounds,” comments OFMI’s Valmuci. “Yet the RSS is, by its very nature, opposed to diversity and multiculturalism. The presence of the RSS’s international wing in American police departments frightens minorities of Indian origin and inculcates a feeling of deep insecurity.

We want these government agencies to apologize for hosting the HSS, to issue statements distancing themselves, and to disavow all future events with this international wing of a supremacist paramilitary.”

The full list of government offices which participated includes: Coppell Police Department, Carmel Police Department, Dunwoody Police Department, Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department, Howard County Police Department, Naperville Police Department, San Ramon Police Department, Tredyffrin Township Police Department, and West Des Moines Police Department; Arlington Heights Fire Department, Harrisburg Fire Department, Louisville Fire Department, and Phoenix Fire Department; Fort Bend County Commissioner Andy Meyers, Woodbridge Township Mayor John McCormac, and US Congressmen Bill Foster and Scott Peters.

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.

Visit www.OFMI.org for more information.