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

www.ofmi.org

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/