OFMI – India’s Lockdown: RSS Cadres enforce checkpoints

Paramilitary accused of pogroms assumes police role

Hyderabad – Telangana – India, 15 April 2020. India’s minorities are further terrified after the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a violent Hindu nationalist paramilitary which is the patron of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was pictured manning checkpoints on a highway near Hyderabad, Telangana.

“The stated agenda and practice of RSS is to assimilate or eliminate all non-Hindus and declare India a Hindu nation,” warns Arvin Valmuci of Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI). “It is written by its founders, preached by its leaders, practiced by its members.

RSS murders minorities, en masse, in pogroms. Indians are already so weakened by the Hindu nationalist agenda shoved on them with the Citizenship Act, lock-down in Kashmir, bans on religious conversion, prison penalties for eating beef, and RSS takeover of educational materials. Now they have Nazis as police.”

On 25 March, BJP Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a nationwide lock-down which has left India’s almost empty streets crisscrossed by police checkpoints. Viral videos show police beating anyone caught in public. In March, Telangana Chief Minister K C Rao threatened to “shoot on sight” anyone breaking curfew.

Yet pictures of masked and armed RSS members enforcing a checkpoint in Telangana raise concerns that Indian institutions are being operated by the paramilitary.

“It reveals who is in control when the RSS openly runs police checkpoints with impunity while every other Indian is locked down,” explains South Asian affairs analyst Pieter Friedrich.

“Nations of the world must recognize that the RSS holds the levers of power in India. It influences all major Indian institutions and controls much of the country’s media, bureaucracy, courts, and education system.

This year, the RSS even opened a military school to funnel officers into the army. It already infiltrated police ranks, but now footage of plainclothes civilians participating in police beatings indicate that active RSS units are embedded with law enforcement.”

The paramilitary’s founders called Indian Christians and Muslims “traitors” and “foreign races.” RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat calls it “non-negotiable” that India is a Hindu nation and describes non-Hindus as “property” that must be “taken back” by RSS. This religious nationalist ideology has led to many violent clashes.

In 2009, RSS groups staged a pogrom against Christians in Odisha, killing approximately 100. It is also implicated in widespread attacks on churches and killings of pastors, including the burning alive of two young boys and their father in 1999, also in Odisha.

Prime Minister Modi, an RSS member, is connected to instigating anti-Muslim pogroms in 2002 in Gujarat and across northern India in 1992. The paramilitary is also blamed for a February 2020 pogrom in Delhi sparked by a local BJP leader.

According to John Dayal, All India Christian Council, RSS was even complicit in the 1984 Sikh Genocide. “Everybody thinks that the perpetrators of the 1984 violence were Congress lots, which of course they were, but for every Congress lot his companion was an RSS lot,” said Dayal. “I’m an eyewitness.”

Released on Twitter on 09 April, pictures of the Telangana checkpoint were captioned “RSS volunteers helping the police department daily for 12 hours.” RSS members outnumber police at Telangana checkpoint.

Confusing statements make it unclear if RSS had government permission to run checkpoints in Telangana.

RSS-Telangana office claims its members “do not interfere with the work of the administration and perform activities only after getting proper and full concurrence from local administration.”

However, local police commissioner Mahesh Bhagwat said, “We don’t want to get associated with any religious or political group while doing law enforcement. This is the job of the police and we can do it. No permission has been given.”

“The Sangh’s lip service to operating only with police permission is a joke,” says OFMI’s Pawan Singh. “Permission was denied but the RSS ran the checkpoint anyways. It makes police look weak, like they’re not even in charge. The RSS is grabbing total control of all aspects of Indian life. Let the world take notice that the Sangh’s ambitions don’t stop at the borders of India.”

Emerging reports claim RSS receives emergency lockdown passes to provide various civil and social services. Accused of filling a police role in Hyderabad, RSS has reportedly mobilized thousands of members to distribute food in Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and other large cities.

Widely circulated pictures of uniformed members serving Muslims provide positive press for a paramilitary linked to multiple anti-minority pogroms.

“RSS praises itself for serving food but only do so when it has a monopoly on serving food,” says OFMI’s Valmuci. “Free kitchen is such an old practice in the Indian subcontinent and even part of how Sikhs practice their religion. Sikhs do it to recognize equality of all, but RSS’s only reason for doing it is to control people’s food source during lockdown.

One day, RSS poses for a picture putting food in the hands of a Christian or Muslim. The next day, they rape, dismember, and burn alive whole families of minorities. It’s just like invaders first bombing and killing, then snapping pictures of themselves as occupiers putting candy in the mouths of kids.”

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.

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OFMI – India plunged into chaos by Modi’s nationwide lockdown

21-day curfew threatens human rights weeks after Delhi pogrom

New Delhi – India, 08 April 2020. Millions are facing starvation while minorities are being accused of spreading COVID-19 after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a 21-day nationwide lock-down a month after his political party staged an anti-Muslim pogrom in Delhi.

Modi announced the lock-down only four hours before it went into force on 25 March. All Indians are banned from exiting their homes without a police pass. All services, shops, schools, and places of worship are shuttered except for those labeled essential.

As transportation was shut down across India, millions of migrant workers flooded out of the cities to return to their villages on foot.

“Masses of India’s common people are facing starvation as they’re stripped of their livelihoods and forced to flee the cities to survive,” says Arvin Valmuci of Organization for Minorities of India.

“Faced with the responsibility to flatten the curve to slow the spread of the corona-virus, the Modi regime instead inflicted the lowest of the low with circumstances that place them not only at greater risk of contracting the disease but of starving to death before they do.

His Hindu nationalist regime is taking advantage of the public health crisis to move forward its communal agenda of cleansing communities it considers undesirable, even blaming the virus on minority populations.”

Hundreds of COVID-19 cases were recently linked to a Muslim religious conference at the Nizamuddin Markaz Mosque in Delhi.

Although the event occurred two weeks before the lock-down began, some social media users responded by trending the hashtag #CoronaJihad. Their attempts to link the spread of the novel corona-virus to Muslim communities was fueled by India’s Minister of Minority Affairs, who called the gathering a “Talibani crime.”

A leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, a political party with historical links to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh paramilitary, called for shooting on sight those who attended the gathering. On 04 April several men opened fire on a mosque in Gurgaon, Haryana. After their arrest, the attackers revealed they believe Muslims are responsible for spreading the virus.

Earlier, Sikhs were accused of spreading the virus as the government in Punjab reportedly compared Non-Resident Indians in the state to “time bombs waiting to explode.” The government further circulated fake news accusing a Sikh preacher returning from Italy of defying quarantine orders and infecting large numbers before dying of COVID-19.

It later emerged that the preacher had not been ordered to quarantine nor was he tested until after he died of a heart attack.

“It was mere weeks ago that we warned about the looming threat of genocide after the Bharatiya Janata Party led a pogrom that left over 50, mostly Muslims, lying dead in the streets of Delhi,” comments Pieter Friedrich, an analyst of South Asian affairs.

“With the Kashmir region on lock-down since last August and Modi brutally repressing dissident movements against his attack on citizenship rights, we talked about how the BJP was turning all of India into Kashmir. Fascism was not rising in India, but already risen.

There are legitimate concerns that Modi is using the necessity of confronting COVID-19 as an opportunity to make his authoritarian nightmare a reality. As he turns the entire country into a black zone, many fear that he can get away with almost anything in total secrecy and with absolute impunity.”

Draconian measures have shocked Indians.

Telangana Chief Minister KC Rao threatened to “shoot at sight” anyone caught breaking curfew. Viral videos showed police throughout India beating people caught in public the day after the unexpected curfew.

One man in West Bengal was beaten to death after leaving home to buy milk. Police in several states filmed themselves forcing curfew violators to perform often humiliating exercises as punishment. Karnataka’s BJP-led government demanded that those on home quarantine send selfies every hour to prove they are staying quarantined.

“It is a mammoth task anyway to put a country of India’s size on siege for three weeks, but to make it worse the announcement was done hastily without proper and elaborate planning,” reports Dr Ashok Swain, a professor of peace and conflict studies at a Swedish university.

“The real problem arose when millions of India’s migrant workers became jobless and homeless overnight as factories and business establishments they used to work in closed down for the lockout.

Despite police brutality and lack of transportation, many of these desperate migrant workers are on the move and that has led to a certain possibility of spreading the coronavirus faster and particularly in interior parts of India, where medical facilities are almost non-existent.

India is most likely staring at a major outbreak of coronavirus and if that takes place, a large share of the blame has to go to Narendra Modi and his government.”

Atrocities continue as migrants in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh were sprayed with a bleach-based disinfectant while Muslims displaced by the February 2020 Delhi Pogrom now face homelessness after the relief camps set up to host them were dismantled in the wake of the lockdown.

Citing rushed BJP actions like passage of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act and the annexation of Kashmir, journalist Sidharth Bhatia said, “This is the third instance of an official act that has caused hardship and misery to a large number of people at the same time,

The common elements in each instance are peremptory decision making, lack of planning and shoddy execution. There’s another, the complete lack of concern over the human cost, which has been colossal.”

Social activist Harsh Mander criticized implementation of the lockdown. “The entire plan had the imagination of a middle-class person: people were asked to maintain social distance, wash their hands and stay home assuming they have homes and salaries going into bank accounts,” said Mander.

“You can’t have policies directed to protect the rich and middle class on the backs of the intense suffering of the poor. Police treat poor people trying to survive as though they are criminals because that’s how they’re encouraged to think about them.

Even the middle classes are stigmatizing them for spreading the virus. The worst in society is emerging because the leadership is not leading with compassion.”

“Ramped-up efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in India need to include rights protections,” said Human Rights Watch’s South Asia Director Meenakshi Ganguly. “The Indian government’s responsibility to protect its people from the outbreak should not come at the cost of human rights violations.”

“We’re seeing COVID-19 blamed on Indian Muslims while the fascist RSS appears free to operate with exemption from the lockdown,” remarks OFMI’s Pawan Singh. “While Indian police murdered a man for leaving his home to buy milk, it appears the RSS has been given a near-monopoly on food distribution in many parts of India.

The vast majority of Indians lack the basic resources to survive the order to stay off the streets for three weeks. Social organizations must step in to help feed the hungry, but we’re concerned that the RSS is using this as an opportunity to exercise control over the population and boost its public image after its involvement in the recent Delhi Pogrom.

When even the country’s minority affairs minister is spreading Islamophobia during this pandemic, there’s a horrible risk that this lockdown by a RSS-controlled government that already has blood on its hands will lead to far more egregious violations of human rights.”

“This mass migration in India today is reminiscent of the bloody days of the subcontinent’s partition,” adds Valmuci. “As the Hindutva regime grabs power, we are also seeing a Nazi-style approach of total control over the population. Their food, their movement, everything about their lives is subject to the whims of the Modi government.

As the RSS is entrusted with distributing food, and we hear reports that others like gurdwaras are prevented from helping even though they distribute irrespective of religion, we are peeking into a terrifying vision of the future where everything in an Indian’s life will be dependent on the RSS.”

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.

www.OFMI.org

OFMI – Ro Khanna Calls India’s Proposed National Register of Citizens “Absurd”

Congressman warns about NRC’s potential for “extraordinary discrimination” against Muslims

Santa Clara – California – USA, 11 March 2020. Speaking at a constituent town hall at Santa Clara University, Congressman Ro Khanna denounced India’s proposed National Register of Citizens as “absurd” and warned it could lead to “extraordinary discriminations against Muslims in India.”

“You expressed a commitment towards pluralism and for protecting the rights of religious minorities in the face of rising Hindutva,” a Muslim constituent said to Khanna at the February 21 event.

“I’m wondering if you will show that commitment to your Muslim constituents by condemning the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Registry of Citizens, both of which are an extension of Hindu nationalism.” The congressman responded:

“I have spoken out against both the Citizenship Act and also the National Registry. The National Registry is absurd.

No country should have a national registry where they’re asking for people to give documentation and prove that they’re part of the country. I fear any kind of national registry could lead to extraordinary discrimination against Muslims in India.

I’ve spoken out against the Citizenship Act, just like I’ve spoken out against the ban in our country, and I said, ‘You can’t discriminate people coming into our country based on their religious faith.’ I don’t think India should be discriminating who they’re going to give expedited citizenship [to] based on faith. I think both of those policies are wrong.”

When India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party passed the Citizenship Amendment Act in December 2019, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom warned that the law “enshrines a pathway to citizenship for immigrants that specifically excludes Muslims, setting a legal criterion for citizenship based on religion.”

On 23 February, USCIRF further warned, “There are serious concerns that the CAA serves as a protective measure for non-Muslims in case of exclusion from a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC), a proposed list of all Indian citizens.

This purpose is evident from BJP politicians’ rhetoric. With the CAA in place, Muslims would primarily bear the punitive consequences of exclusion from the NRC which could include ‘statelessness, deportation, or prolonged detention,’ according to three United Nations Special Rapporteurs.”

“America needs more people in Congress with the courage and honesty of Ro Khanna,” says Arvin Valmuci of Organization for Minorities of India. “As a Hindu-American politician, his outspokenness against the Hindu nationalist agenda that is bringing misery to so many Indians is truly historic. We urge Congressman Khanna to continue to champion the human rights of all, especially the oppressed people of India.”

Khanna’s remarks came shortly before an anti-Muslim pogrom broke out in Delhi on 23 February. Over 50 people were killed by mobs acting in collaboration with the police. The violence began after a BJP leader threatened to “take to the streets” to clear away sit-in protests against the CAA and the NRC.

“This deadly surge of religious intolerance in India is horrifying,” said Hindu-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal on February 25. “Democracies should not tolerate division and discrimination, or promote laws that undermine religious freedom. The world is watching.”

Last year, Khanna made headlines when he stated, “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, Buddhist[s], & Christians.” Hindutva is the BJP’s religious nationalist political ideology which treats non-Hindus as foreign to India.

According to India Abroad, Ritesh Tandon, who is challenging Khanna for his seat in Congress, “was motivated to run by Khanna’s alleged anti-Hindutva comments.” Referring to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh paramilitary, which is the parent group of the BJP, Tandon says his father was “a strong RSS person.”

Tandon has faced accusations that he was recruited and promoted by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, the international wing of the RSS. In October 2019, the HSS had organized a protest against Khanna over his statement against Hindutva.

“We want more than lip service from Ro Khanna,” says West Sacramento Sikh Gurdwara President Balbir Singh Dhillon.

He recalls his experience being falsely arrested in India in the 1990s. Held for two months, he was tortured in custody and only released after over 50 US congressional representatives signed a letter to the US State Department that pressured India to admit it had no proof he committed any crime.

“The Indian government’s long track record of violating human rights with impunity has escalated into the Delhi Pogrom against Muslims that we saw in late February,” says Dhillon. “The time for denouncing its atrocities without acting to prevent them passed long ago. We want Khanna to act to get the US government to sanction individuals like Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.”

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.[centre/italics]

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OFMI – Hundreds in California Protest India’s New Citizenship Amendment Act

“Fascist forces” trying to “break India” on religious basis, warn protestors

Santa Clara – California – USA, 16 December 2019. Over 200 people gathered in Northern California on 15 December to protest a controversial new citizenship law in India which is sending shockwaves across that country.

“These fascist forces who are trying to break India on the basis of religion need to be stopped,” Ahsan Khan, president of Indian American Muslim Council, told protestors in Santa Clara, CA. “You have seen how people in India are coming on the streets. It is our duty here to come out in large numbers.”

On 09 December, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom warned that the Citizenship Amendment Bill “enshrines a pathway to citizenship for immigrants that specifically excludes Muslims, setting a legal criterion for citizenship based on religion.”

After the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) passed CAB on 11 December, protests against it are spreading across India. On 14 December, hundreds of students in New Delhi were injured after police attempted to disperse largely nonviolent protests.

“CAB is a technique used by the BJP to exterminate minorities,” declared Father Steve Macias at the Santa Clara protest. An Anglican priest, he said, “We represent 30 million-strong in India. The BJP wants one thing, the extermination of Christians.” Referencing the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a paramilitary considered the BJP’s base, he warned, “The RSS and the BJP is behind the killing of men, women, and children in our communities.” He demanded the US government “force sanctions against Modi and India to stop this happening.”

Father Steve Macias

Cheering protestors welcomed Macias’s speech with chants of “RSS out of India.” Other slogans raised included “we are united,” “we stand for freedom,” “stand with Kashmir,” and “hey hey, ho ho, CAB has got to go.”

Speaking on behalf of Stand with Kashmir, a global citizen action group, Ahmad said, “We come together against fascism in the world.” He explained, “What’s happening in India today to minorities, Muslims, Hindu Dalits, Sikhs, Christians, and against activists, leftists, the media, it’s something that has been happening in Kashmir for 72 long years. Kashmiris have been the test tube of Indian fascism.”

“CAB is only the latest in a line of recent fascist actions in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘New India’,” said Pieter Friedrich, an analyst of South Asian affairs. “The BJP’s next goal is to implement a National Register of Citizens across the whole country. This puts all residents of India in the position of having to prove their citizenship.

CAB and NRC combined provide a legal route for the BJP to begin cleansing the land of Muslims, and, ultimately, of all non-Hindus. That’s the goal of the BJP — and the Nazi-inspired RSS paramilitary that controls it.”

Pieter Friedrich

Navjot Kaur, who works with persecuted refugees, said, “The world is progressing and India is going backwards. Whatever our forefathers achieved by getting rid of the colonizers, they are bringing everything back.” She compared her experience growing up in Panjab to the current situation in Kashmir. “Everything was banned,” she said. “Reporters, journalism, everything was banned. We as children were trained to just restrict ourselves in the house. Being a seven-year-old, the first political term I learned was ‘curfew’.”

Brian Wright, a director of Organization for Minorities of India, said stories of religious persecution in India “just grip my heart.” He added, “Being just brothers and sisters in faith, but even more just all of us in humanity, this is something that just needs to stop.”

Brian Wright

“Modi is leading India as a Hitler,” declared Gurmit Singh Khalsa, a leader in the San Francisco Bay Area Sikh community. “Muslims have the right to live on that soil. Sikhs have the right. Christians. All people have the right to live on that soil and enjoy the God-gifted liberty we have as humans.”

He told protestors, “Your souls, in this dark time, have the ability and the courage to sacrifice your time and come forward to say what is wrong, what is right. Faith and perseverance moves a mountain.”

The rally was organized by the Bay Area Coalition of Concerned Citizens. Participating groups included Indian American Muslim Council, Organization for Minorities of India, and Stand With Kashmir.

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. OFMI believes in cultivating an appreciation for personal liberty, individual sovereignty, and the truth as counter-measures to corruption, discrimination, and persecution. [centre/italics]

http://www.ofmi.org/hundreds-in-california-protest-indias-new-citizenship-amendment-act/

OFMI – Minorities infuriated by India’s new Citizenship Bill plan California rally

Californians stand in solidarity with millions protesting in India against CAB

Santa Clara – California – USA. 14 December 2019. Indian minorities infuriated by India’s recent passage of a controversial citizenship bill that excludes Muslims will rally against it on December 15 in California’s San Francisco Bay Area.

“The Citizenship Amendment Bill passed this week foretells a fatal blow to a secular society in India,” warns Arvin Valmuci of Organization for Minorities of India. “CAB opens the door for a full-scale persecution of all minorities in India.

It will soon be followed by a national law banning religious conversion, which will impact Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, and all others as it outlaws religious freedom. Millions in India are taking to the streets to protest the CAB Act.

We call upon all soul mates around the world to rally to save India’s soul and hope many will join us to stand against CAB on Sunday.”

The CAB Act, explained Human Rights Watch, “discriminates on religious grounds in violation of international law.” It provides a swift path to citizenship only for non-Muslim irregular immigrants. On Dec. 9, the US Commission on International Freedom stated, “CAB enshrines a pathway to citizenship for immigrants that specifically excludes Muslims, setting a legal criterion for citizenship based on religion.”

The group recommends sanctions on Indian politicians responsible for passing the bill.

The US House Foreign Affairs Committee also spoke out against CAB, stating, “Religious pluralism is central to the foundations of both India and the United States and is one of our core shared values. Any religious test for citizenship undermines this most basic democratic tenet.”

On 13 December the UN Human Rights Office denounced the bill as “fundamentally discriminatory,” explaining, “The amended law would appear to undermine the commitment to equality before the law enshrined in India’s constitution and India’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, to which Indian is a State party, which prohibit discrimination based on racial, ethnic or religious grounds.”

Protests against CAB are currently expanding across most of India. Five states, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Panjab, and West Bengal, have announced their refusal to implement the law.

In response to protests in India’s northeast, where pushback is most intense, India has shut down internet in four states. “This makes India the internet shutdown capital of the world,” reported CNN on Dec. 14. “The world’s biggest democracy leads in digital authoritarianism, and by some margin.”

“The CAB Act is a key part of the ruling BJP’s Hindu nationalist agenda,” Pieter Friedrich, an analyst of South Asian affairs, told OFMI. “Annexing Kashmir and securing judicial approval to build a temple on the same site where a mob violently demolished a mosque were long-standing BJP demands achieved in the past few months.

The BJP’s next goal is a National Register of Citizens that requires every resident of India to prove their citizenship. Combined with CAB, the NRC provides a legal route for the BJP, and the Nazi-inspired RSS paramilitary that controls it — to begin cleansing the land of all non-Hindus.”

In California, anti-CAB protestors will rally at the Civic Center Park in Santa Clara, CA at 4pm on Sunday, December 15.

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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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.

Visit OFMI.org for more information

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OFMI – Proposed Gandhi bust in Georgia protested for Indian icon’s racism

“He thought of Africans as subhuman,” say Gwinnett County residents

Lilburn – Georgia – USA, 08 October 2019. A diverse coalition of residents of Gwinnett County, in northern Georgia, united on 06 October around the common cause of opposing the proposed installation of a Gandhi bust.

“We’re going to stop it from happening,” Cheryle Renee Moses told the local CBS news channel at a rally held in the City of Lilburn’s Bryson Park. The park is the planned location for the proposed bust, which is intended to be installed on October 19. Residents upset about the bust, however, are relying on more than public pressure.

They are hiring an attorney and hope to file a lawsuit to block the bust. Last year, similar action stopped a proposed Gandhi statue in the southern central African country of Malawi. Activists there protested Gandhi for the same reasons.

“Gandhi’s statues are being taken down all around the world,” said Moses, who was the Democratic nominee for Georgia State Senate District 9 in Gwinnett County. “He thought of Africans as being subhuman.

African-Americans are the majority-minority in Gwinnett County, so to put up a statue of a person who was racist against Africans is insulting to many of the citizens that live here. These are their tax dollars going to maintain the erection of a man who cannot stand us.”

On 03 October Dr Charles Steele Jr, president and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, commented on the controversy. “He’s been called a racist here in the last few weeks,” said Dr Steele, speaking from the SCLC headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

“The University of Ghana just removed his statue. It’s so deep in terms of racism. You’re talking about America, but it’s all over the world. What we have to do is address it, we have to confront it, and we can’t hide it under the rug.”

The bust, proposed by non-profit Indian Friends of Atlanta, has faced protest for at least the past two weeks. On 01 October, Moses appeared at the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners’s public hearing to speak against the project. Earlier, Jerry Jones and Nanak Singh registered opposition from Organization for Minorities of India at a September 24 Board of Commissioners’s hearing.

“Statues installed around the world have provoked international headlines and protests as many continue to confront the facts of Gandhi’s hard reputation as a racist, sexual deviant, and religious extremist,” said Jones at the September 24 hearing. “Not only did Gandhi harbor racist opinions, but he enthusiastically acted upon them by promoting racism during his time in South Africa.

He demanded segregation of blacks and Indians and even served as a Sergeant-Major in the British war against the black Africans. His efforts in India have been undermined by his sexual abuse of teenage girls from his own family.”

“The world must learn and evolve and reevaluate the people it puts on pedestals,” remarks Arvin Valmuci, a spokesperson for OFMI. “Gandhi was viciously and unapologetically racist against black Africans. Besides the problem of promoting a racist, we must also consider what message putting up a statue of Gandhi sends about how we should treat women.

Gandhi molested his teenage grandnieces while they were in his power. In this age of the Me Too movement, we must listen to the cries of the women who were abused by Gandhi. We stand against all commemorations of Gandhi everywhere because his life represented a rejection of the values of love, peace, and nonviolence.”

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.

http://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.

OFMI – Democratic Party’s “Silence” on Tulsi Gabbard’s RSS links condemned

Over 120 Indian academics and journalists call
US Congresswoman to denounce RSS

New Delhi – India, 14 September 2019, Over 120 Indian academics and journalists have issued a statement denouncing US Congresswoman and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard’s “sullied association” with the RSS, an Indian paramilitary, and demanding that the Democratic Party “cut all ties with her” unless she denounces it.

“We, the undersigned, condemn the immoral silence of the Democratic Party and its members on Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s association with the Hindu-militant organization, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and its American affiliates,” says the statement.

Signatories include Ashok Swain (Professor, Uppsala University), Richa Nagar (Professor, University of Minnesota), Chaman Lal (Retired Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University), Ram Puniyani (Retired Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay), Umar Khalid (United Against Hate), John Dayal (Spokesperson, United Christian Forum), and Shabnam Hashmi (social activist).

“The rise in the world of politics for Gabbard, who projects herself as a progressive espousing ‘American liberal values’, was made possible by a network which unapologetically professes an ideology of hate-and-divide which is enshrined in their supremacist beliefs,” continues the statement.

Citing a recent profile of Gabbard published by India’s Caravan magazine, it explains, “Since the beginning of her political career, Gabbard has been funded by members of groups like Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, Overseas Friends of the BJP, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh and Ekal Foundation, which have direct links with the RSS.”

Noting that Gabbard “benefited from her close association with BJP-RSS and their affiliates,” the statement argues, “It would be a moral failure of members of the Democratic Party to have within their ranks a person like Gabbard who has supported and is backed by a network under whose rule India has witnessed increasing violence against Christians, Muslims and Dalits, disenfranchising of minority groups, illegal detention and clampdown on human rights of Kashmiris, and crushing of rational and progressive voices.”

The statement concludes: “We demand that unless Gabbard unequivocally and publicly denounces the hate politics of RSS, the Democratic Party leaders hold her accountable for being hand-in-glove with forces of hate and cut all ties with her.”

“We welcome this broad coalition of voices from India speaking out against Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s extensive ties to the RSS,” comments Arvin Valmuci, a spokesperson for Organization for Minorities of India. “The RSS has led pogroms against minorities in India on multiple occasions and is responsible for the gruesome massacre of Christians and Muslims.

It has a vast network within the United States which has worked closely with Gabbard to whitewash its crimes in India. The Democratic Party must speak out against her association with these supremacist groups.”

Gabbard, who is also known for her close association with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will join Modi in Houston, Texas on September 22 for a pep rally organized by various US affiliates of the RSS.

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.

Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI) – RSS Paramilitary’s affiliates pressure US lawmaker into withdrawing Kashmir support

Jagdish Sewhani, executive in RSS’s international wing, condemns representative Tom Suozzi.

Sent to me by Arvin Valmuci arvin.v@ofmi.org

Huntington – New York – USA, 13 August 2019, Following pressure by affiliates of India’s Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh paramilitary, US Congressman Tom Suozzi has withdrawn and apologized for a letter about the Kashmir issue in which he asked the Department of State to support “the human rights of all people.”

Last week, the Bharatiya Janata Party led Indian Government scrapped constitutional articles providing Jammu and Kashmir with autonomy in domestic affairs and subsequently stripped J&K of statehood. The BJP additionally deployed nearly 50,000 additional troops to the disputed region, imposed a curfew, and cut off all communications, including phone and internet.

On August 12, Human Rights Watch denounced the continued Kashmir blackout, stating, “Unless it wants to inflame tensions in Kashmir for another generation, the Indian government needs to step back, and fast.”

In an August 9 letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Representative Suozzi wrote, “I am concerned that Prime Minister Modi’s recent actions in Kashmir have contributed to tensions that are now higher than ever.”

He noted, “The Modi government’s move could embolden Hindu nationalists to engage in acts of violence and discrimination against India’s minority religious groups, including Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs.

We must, as you know, hold true to our values of respecting the human rights of all people, including religious minorities, and we must use our influence to encourage our allies to do the same.”

Suozzi’s letter prompted an outcry led by Jagdish Sewhani. “We Indian Americans are very upset with Congressman Suozzi,” said Sewhani on August 11. “We are demanding that he withdraws his letter written to Secretary Pompeo. Kashmir is an integral part of India and it is India’s internal matter.”

The New York based Sewhani apparently spoke on behalf of Indian-American activists who, reported NDTV, “played a key role in [Suozzi’s] election and fundraising.”

Reportage surrounding the incident failed to note that Sewhani is a top executive in US affiliates of the RSS who has repeatedly campaigned for Modi’s election. In an interview in the May 2019 edition of The South Asian Insider, Sewhani is described as “a proud Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Karyakarta [officer] and an ideologue.”

In 2015, India West described him as Coordinator of Community Reach for Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, the international wing of the RSS. He has also served as General Secretary of the Overseas Friends of the BJP, the BJP’s international wing, and is reportedly a founding member of the group.

Sewhani is a close associate of Modi. In 2013, he inaugurated the launch of the Overseas Friends of Narendra Modi in New York. In 2014, he traveled to Gujarat, India, where he says he was “part of Modi-ji’s campaign team” and was “privy to the brainstorming sessions during the campaign.”

In April 2019, he inaugurated a BJP campaign kickoff event in New York to support Modi’s re-election. As reported by The Organiser, the RSS’s official media outlet, he “urged the Indian American Community to call, email their friends and relatives in India and tell them to vote for Modi.”

“We are agitated by the tone and tenor of the letter,” stated Sewhani in an August 11 meeting with Suozzi. “We demand that the Congressman withdraw this letter.” On August 13, Suozzi stated, “Based upon my meeting, it is clear that it was a mistake to not consult with some of my Indian-American friends and supporters before I sent the letter.

Moving forward, I will make sure to solicit the input of all of my constituents who have a vested interest in Kashmir.”

“Those who have a vested interested in Kashmir are Kashmiris,” comments Arvin Valmuci of Organization for Minorities of India. “We are shocked and saddened that Congressman Tom Suozzi allowed himself to be bullied into retracting his support for human rights by people who have a vested interested in pushing the RSS’s agenda.

We encourage Representative Suozzi, who is the son of an Italian immigrant father, to learn how the RSS was inspired by fascist movements like Mussolini’s and Hitler’s.”

Suozzi’s letter had expressed support for “hundreds of American citizens visiting the territory who have been left stranded with limited options to communicate and leave the territory, and the Kashmiri families of thousands of American citizens [who] remain cut off from communication with their families.”

He had further warned that the situation in J&K is “a potential flashpoint for conflict between nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan, who have a long history of tension and war.”

“We applaud Representative Suozzi for issuing the initial letter and plead with him to disavow extremist elements associated with India’s violent and fascist RSS paramilitary, a group which is responsible for pogroms and lynchings of India’s minorities,” concludes Valmuci.

“We remind him that Jagdish Sewhani, aside from being a key executive in the RSS’s international wing, is also a leader in Indian political groups like the OFBJP and thus a partisan figure who cannot speak for Indian-Americans as a whole.

We further remind Representative Suozzi that the content of his letter harmonized with statements by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.”

USCIRF, in its 2019 report on the status of religious freedom in India, stated, “Over the last decade, conditions for religious minorities in India have deteriorated. “A multifaceted campaign by Hindu nationalist groups like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to alienate non-Hindus or lower-caste Hindus is a significant contributor to the rise of religious violence and persecution.”

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

http://www.ofmi.org/