Pieter Friedrich – “Cultural Malware: RSS’s Infiltration from India to America”

Seminar on India’s RSS paramilitary hosted at UCLA

On 19 February, I’ll be delivering a lecture on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the 100-year-old, Nazi-inspired paramilitary that pulls the strings of the Indian government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regime. Topics covered will include:

– What is the RSS?

– What is Hindutva?

– How important is the RSS in India today?

– What kind of violence has the RSS committed?

– What else was happening in the world when the RSS was founded?

– What does the RSS believe?

– What did the Guru of the RSS teach?

– Who are the neo-Hindutva RSS ideologues today?

– What is the RSS’s international wing?

A short evening seminar hosted by Jakara Movement and the UCLA Sikh Students Association, “Cultural Malware: RSS’s Infiltration From India to America” will take place at:

UCLA’s Moore Hall 3340
2043 Portola Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095

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 pieterfriedrich.net.


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.


Scroll.in – ‘Ready to hold referendum in PoK, let people of Kashmir decide what they want,’ says Pakistan PM

Imran Khan invited people from all parts of the country to visit Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and assess the human rights situation there.

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 17 January 2019. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said Islamabad is willing to hold a referendum in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to give people the right to decide whether they want to remain in the country or be independent.

“Let the people of Kashmir decide what they want,” he said in an interview with Deutsche Welle. “Pakistan is ready for a referendum or a plebiscite. Let them decide whether they want to remain with Pakistan or to be independent. We are all for it.”

He said people from all parts of the country are invited to visit PoK to assess the human rights situation in the region. “Azad Kashmir holds free and fair elections and it elects its own government,” Khan said. “Like any other administration, they have their problems.

But as I said, let us invite observers from all over the world. I assure you that they can go to the Pakistan side of Kashmir but won’t be allowed on the Indian side.”

Khan lashed out at the Narendra Modi-led government and compared the ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to that of the Nazis. “Just as the Nazi ideology was built on hatred for minorities, the RSS ideology is also based on hatred for Muslims and other minorities, including Christians,” he said.

The prime minister said India has been taken over by an extremist ideology known as “Hindutva” and alleged that the country is also run by extremists. “It is a tragedy for India – and for its neighbours – that the country has been taken over by the RSS, an organisation which also assassinated the great Mahatma Gandhi,” Khan claimed.

“A nuclear-armed country is being run by extremists, and Kashmir has been under siege for over five months.”

He said the situation in Kashmir received little international attention, claiming that commercial interests are more important for Western countries.

“India is a big market and that is the reason behind the lukewarm response to what is happening to some 8 million people in Kashmir, as well as to minorities in India,” he said.

Khan also spoke about the Citizenship Amendment Act and said it was “blatantly against minorities”. He pointed that these matters were raised when he spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and later she issued a statement in November that the situation in Kashmir is “not sustainable”.

Tensions between India and Pakistan have ratcheted up since New Delhi abrogated Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5 and divided it into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Pakistan, which has fought three wars with India for Kashmir since Independence, did not take the decision well. Pakistan responded by suspending trade with India, downgrading bilateral ties and sending back its envoy. It also approached several international bodies, including the United Nations.


The Print – Modi wrongly quoted Mahatma Gandhi on Pakistan’s Hindu & Sikh refugees to defend CAA

Modi has always tried to appropriate Gandhi. The latest addition to this was the PM quoting Gandhi to taunt Congress on CAA.

Urvish Kothari

New Delhi – India, 25 December 2019. It is widely known that the Bharatiya Janata Party and its ideological parent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh don’t share the same views as Mahatma Gandhi on India’s Partition. So, it came as a surprise when Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently cited one of Mahatma Gandhi’s Partition-related quotes to defend his government’s amendment to the Citizenship Act.

Always eager to appropriate Gandhi, PM Modi taunted the Congress Sunday during his rally at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi, “Gandhiji had said that Sikhs and Hindus living in Pakistan will always be welcomed in India. This Act is in line with the promise the Government of India made in 1947. You believe me or not but at least believe Gandhiji.”

It hardly matters to the BJP’s propaganda machinery that it’s been 72 years since Gandhi made the remark and 48 years have passed since the collapse of ‘the two-nation theory’ with the formation of Bangladesh from erstwhile East Pakistan.

A booklet in circulation highlights Gandhi’s quote in a more asserting form, with a reference date and a photo of Gandhi to support the claim. The quote says, “Mahatma Gandhi announced openly in a prayer meeting that Hindus and Sikhs staying in Pakistan can come to India by all means if they do not wish to stay there.

In that case, it is primary duty of Indian Government to provide them employment and make their lives normal.” [Naagrikata (Sanshodhan) Adhiniyam-2019, Ek Parichay Kamal Sandesh, Dr. Mukerji Smriti Nyas, New Delhi, December 2019, page 9]

Gandhi on Pakistani refugees

Before we go ahead, it is imperative to note what Gandhi actually said about the treatment of minorities after Partition. He mentioned Hindus and Sikhs a couple of times in his post-prayer speech on 26 September 1947.

He talked about Pandit Thakur Datt who had to flee Lahore, and said that “he (Gandhi) wanted him and all the other Hindu and Sikh friends to help him in restoring real peace in Delhi. Then he would proceed to Western Pakistan with fresh strength.” (Delhi Diary, M.K.Gandhi, 26-9-1947, Page 38, Navjivan Publication, Ahmedabad, 1948)

On the role of the Indian government, Gandhi said, “To secure justice for the Hindus and Sikhs was the function of the Government.” (Delhi Diary, M. K. Gandhi, 26-9-1947, Page 39) This quote has been deliberately dug up and spiced up to buttress Modi government’s arguments in the CAA debate.

It is a travesty of truth to quote Gandhi falsely and that too in support of a law that discriminates against refugees from neighbouring countries on the basis of religion.

If one is really interested in knowing what Gandhi said during testing times, then his post-prayer speeches from September 1947 to January 1948 serve as a better guide. Just a day before the speech mentioned above, Gandhi dealt with the subject of ill-treatment of minorities with more force.

In reply to a question, he said he did not propose that the Indian government should ignore the mistreatment of Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan. The government was bound to do its utmost to save them. But his answer most certainly did not tell Indian authorities to drive away Muslims and copy Pakistan’s methods. (Delhi Diary, M. K. Gandhi, 25-9-1947, Page 35).

As a staunch optimist, Gandhi hoped that wiser counsel would prevail and Muslims, many of whom had possibly not migrated to Pakistan out of their own free will, should be asked to return to their homes in India with a sense of safety. (Delhi Diary, M. K. Gandhi, 17-9-1947, Page 18). He would express such a hope almost as an inevitable condition for peace in the future.

In reply to another question, Gandhi said that “his Hinduism taught him to respect all religions. In that lay the secret of Rama Raj.” Gandhi added: “If Pandit Jawaharlal, the Sardar and people with their ideas had forfeited their respect and confidence, they (people) could replace them by another team that had their confidence.

But they could not and should not expect them to act against their conscience and regard that India belonged only to the Hindus. That way lay destruction.” (Delhi Diary, M. K. Gandhi,7-10-1947, Page 69).

Unlike the popular perception that Gandhi appeased Muslims and Pakistan, he spoke frequently against Pakistan’s ill-treatment of its minorities. He said, “Pakistan has to bear the burden of its sins, which I know are terrible enough.

It should be enough for everybody to know my opinion (in so far as it has any value) that the beginning was made by Muslim League long before 15th of August…we of the union copied the sins and thus became fellow sinners. Odds became even. Shall we now awake from the trance, repent and change or must we fall?” (Delhi Diary, M. K. Gandhi, 24-11-1947, Page 202).

It would be interesting to note what ‘unfinished agenda of Partition’, a rhetoric common on both sides of the border, meant for Gandhi. He could never bring himself to accept the proposition of a permanent exchange of population. Even if the refugees were well settled, they would return to their old homes.

Therefore, Gandhi could not envisage real peace without the parties returning to their homes. (Delhi Diary, M.K. Gandhi, 31-12-1947, Page 296). He expressed this sentiment repeatedly during the last phase of his life in personal conversations as well as in public speeches.

The Modi government would do well to revisit the history before it thinks of incorrectly using Gandhi’s words to justify its divisive policies.

The author is a senior columnist and writer based in Ahmedabad. Views are personal.[centre/italics]

Modi wrongly quoted Mahatma Gandhi on Pakistan’s Hindu & Sikh refugees to defend CAA

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.

Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI) – Jammu and Kashmir in Chaos as India Strips Its Statehood

Move preceded by scrapping of state’s 70-year autonomy

Arvin Valmuci

Srinigar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 08 August 2019. The Kashmir valley was plunged into chaos this week after India’s Bharatiya Janata Party led Central Government rapidly scrapped the state of Jammu and Kashmir’s 70-year autonomous status on August 5 before stripping J&K of statehood.

A proverbial darkness hangs over the region as it remains cut off from the outside world. India has moved 46,000 troops into J&K in the last two weeks alone. Residents have been under curfew since August 4.

A handful of videos obtained by Western media show deserted streets covered in barbed wire and patrolled by heavily-armed soldiers. The few reports emerging from Kashmiris indicate they are starving as supermarket shelves lie bare and ATMs are empty.

“Kashmiris have been forbidden from choosing their own future for over 400 years,” remarks Arvin Valmuci, a spokesperson for Organization for Minorities of India. “Since 1947, they had some autonomy under Article 370 of India’s constitution.

In the space of two days, without any discussion or warning, the Hindu nationalist regime in Delhi rammed through a bill that obliterated the 70-year deal under which J&K agreed to join the Republic of India.”

Article 370, adopted in 1949, permitted J&K to handle its own affairs with the exception of matters relating to defense, foreign affairs, and communications. The article was based on stipulations laid down in the 1947 Instrument of Accession agreed to by J&K’s last ruler.

Kashmiris generally considered the article as the primary legal justification for their state’s alignment with India. After it was revoked, former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti stated, “This constitutional relationship has been turned into an illegal occupation.” She is now under arrest.

Following the BJP’s actions, J&K’s autonomy and statehood have been revoked. The region is partitioned into two territories: Ladakh and a reorganized J&K. Both territories will be subject to direct rule by Delhi.

“What we are now witnessing in Indian-administered Kashmir takes what was already a bit of pattern to a whole new level,” said a spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on August 7.

“I would refer you back to our 8 July 2019 report on the human rights situation in Kashmir, which documented how authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir have repeatedly blocked telecommunications networks to muzzle dissent, used arbitrary detention to punish political dissidents and employed excessive force while dealing with protests, leading to extrajudicial killings and serious injuries.”

The US State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs reported that the US government was not informed prior to Delhi’s shocking move. “The US is closely following India’s legislation regarding the new territorial status and governance of Jammu and Kashmir,” said a State Department spokesperson.

“We note the broader implications of these developments, including the potential for increased instability in the region. The US calls for calm and restraint by all parties.” The spokesperson also urged “respect for individual rights.”

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he was in talks with India’s foreign minster, commenting, “We’ve expressed some of our concerns around the situation.” In Canada, the New Democratic Party said it was “deeply concerned by reports of the Indian government’s crackdown in recent days in Kashmir.”

The NDP warned, “We are troubled by such actions, which provide fertile ground for more human rights abuses in a region where the people of Kashmir regularly suffer abuses such as excessive force, arbitrary detention and the lack of due process, and communications blackouts.”

“The Indian Government’s revocation of the autonomy and special status of Jammu and Kashmir violates the rights of representation and participation guaranteed to the people of Jammu and Kashmir under the Indian Constitution and in international law and is a blow to the rule of law and human rights in the state and in India,” stated the International Commission of Jurists, a human rights NGO based in Geneva, Switzerland.

In a statement, the Indian American Muslim Council noted that the BJP’s action “lends credence to the fears of India’s 180 million Muslims that Mr. Modi’s rightwing administration has a vile agenda to victimize and brutalize them in fulfillment of the long-held vision of Hindu supremacists to convert India into a Hindu nation.”

The full region of J&K is split into three sections controlled by India, Pakistan, and China. About two-thirds is administered by India, which has fought three wars with Pakistan for control of the region.

Both Pakistan and China have sharply contested India’s latest actions.

Pakistan responded by expelling India’s ambassador and suspending its already limited trade relations. In an August 5 statement, the Pakistani foreign ministry said, “The Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir is an internationally recognized disputed territory. No unilateral step by the Government of India can change this disputed status.”

China echoed that sentiment. “It is an international consensus that the Kashmir issue is an issue left from the past between India and Pakistan,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on August 6. On August 7, China’s ambassador to Pakistan called J&K an “internationally recognized disputed territory.”

“The BJP’s devil-may-care actions, taken without any consideration for international opinion let alone the well-being of Kashmiris, places the Indian subcontinent in a very precarious position,” says OFMI’s Valmuci.

“Wherever the Hindutva ideologues take power, they use the harshest dictatorial methods without mercy. This totalitarian and arrogant action is purely anti-democratic.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which is guilty of so many direct and indirect attempts to ethnically cleanse India of non-Hindus, is the architect of this assault on the rights and very lives of Kashmiris. We only hope that war will be averted.”

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.


Change.org – After RSS HQ Visit, Walter Lindner must resign as German ambassador to India

Pieter Friedrich
28 Jul 2019

As the center for all things related to the #ResignLindner movement, we have launched


Please visit to see recent links and news related to the issue.
As always, please share this petition with your friends and family.

German Ambassador Walter Lindner must resign.

Please sign the petition !


The Hindu – Time to rebuild India’s secularism

The central idea of the Republic, that the country belongs to all equally, is in tatters today

Harsh Mander

Op/Ed, 22 May 2019. There is much that lies badly broken in India today. The economy desperately needs to be repaired, as do rural distress, the job crisis and the free-falling rupee. The country’s institutions demand urgently to be rebuilt, the media, police, judiciary, universities, the planning process, the Election Commission of India.

But above all, if there is one thing that stands most dangerously damaged, it is our constitutional pledge of a secular democracy. What are the prospects of rebuilding this?

Shrill, divisive campaign

Listen carefully to the speeches in the shrill summer election campaign which has just come to a halt. From their podiums, Opposition leaders spoke of everything else, the agony of farmers, unemployed youth, suspect defence deals, crony capitalism and indeed crony institutions.

But rarely did they speak of lynching, of violence against Muslims, Christians and Dalits, of the fear which has become normalised in their daily lives, of our wrecked social contract of equality and harmony. And never did they speak of secularism.

The imagination of secularism in the Indian Republic was rooted in its singularly pluralist civilisational ethos, in the lives and work of Ashoka and Akbar, in the teachings of Buddha, Kabir and Nanak.

It was illuminated by our struggle for freedom, in the humanist and egalitarian convictions of Gandhi and Ambedkar, Maulana Azad and Nehru. It was the central iridescent idea: that this newly-freed country would belong equally to all its people. People of no religion, no language, no caste, no ethnicity, no gender, no class would be entitled to lay claim to the country more than any other.

Secularism is the soul of India’s Constitution. Today the letter of this Constitution still remains unaltered, but its soul is mangled and choked. Not just the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP); even Opposition parties seem to have accepted that India is no longer the secular country born of the legacy of India’s freedom struggle, but a majoritarian Hindu country.

In this new India, people of minority religions, castes and gender are second-class. Their safety and well-being are dependent now on the consent and will of the majority upper-caste, patriarchal Hindu, and the dictates of this Hindu are interpreted and violently mediated by the ideology of Hindutva.

It is a grave mistake to frame the 2019 general election as a battle of Narendra Modi against the rest. This is how Prime Minister Modi, referring to himself repeatedly in the third person, has framed this bitter electoral contest.

This is how the Opposition has fought the electoral battle, of Mr. Modi versus the rest. This is how the majority of Indian voters view this combat.

RSS versus Constitution

However, the electoral battle waged around the country is truly a different one. On one side stands the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and on the other is the secular idea of the Indian Constitution. Mr Modi is a formidable, pugnacious, tireless and immensely popular mascot of the Hindu supremacist ideology of the RSS; and his image is powerfully buttressed by a pliant corporate media and dizzying levels of spending on a public relations blitz to manufacture consent.

But the central danger to secular India is not the personality of Mr. Modi. It is the penetration of the RSS into every institution of the country, into every political party, the media, the university, the judiciary, the civil services, and most dangerously into mainstream everyday social life of every ordinary Indian.

In the RSS worldview, Muslims and Christians are not authentically Indian, their loyalty to the Indian nation is and will always remain suspect; therefore, they need to be tamed, to be continuously shown their subordinate status in the Indian polity and society.

It is for this reason that virulent hate speech was so central to this election campaign, with Mr Modi mocking his rival, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, for seeking election in a constituency in which he would have to depend in part on Muslim and Christian voters; and other BJP leaders and candidates raging against the threats of the ‘green virus’ and ‘termites’.

It is for this reason that BJP president Amit Shah pledges to extend the National Register of Citizens to all parts of India, while ensuring citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists from other parts of the subcontinent; in this way brazenly turning on its head the core constitutional idea that a person’s religion is irrelevant to her rights to equal citizenship.

And it is for this reason that lynching of Muslims and attacks on Christian places of worship, openly valorised by ruling party leaders, became the overarching symbols of the newly forged relationship of the majoritarian Hindu state with its now inferior religious minorities.

In a place of fear

If Mr Modi is returned with an emphatic majority when ballots are counted on May 23, as many exit polls predict, this will herald that India has fallen deep into a cold hard place of hate and fear. It will signal that a significant majority of Hindus endorse the Hindu supremacist ideology of the RSS.

It will indicate the popular abandonment of the secular and humane vision of India’s Constitution, and its replacement by a violent and chauvinist majoritarian Hindu nationalism, which is suspicious and hateful in its relations with people who follow minority religious faiths.

This outcome would also further imperil all left, liberal and democratic dissenting voices, in civil society, in the media, in universities, and in letters and the arts.

A second scenario, anticipated by a much smaller number of political commentators, is of reduced support for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), its tally falling short of the half-way mark. In such a situation, they anticipate the possibility that many regional parties could be persuaded to support an NDA government only if it is led by a less belligerent leader than Mr. Modi, possibly Nitin Gadkari or Rajnath Singh.

Many are relieved by the possibility of such an outcome: anyone other than Mr Modi would be welcome, they reason. But it would be a dangerous mistake to believe that such a choice would pull India out of the dark abyss into which it has slipped.

Even with a more acceptable face, as with Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the RSS would use political power to further penetrate all institutions, and enfeeble what survives of secular practice.

The least expected scenario, of the victory of the United Progressive Alliance or a federal front of regional parties, cannot be ruled out yet. After all, the BJP has lost no exit polls since 2004, but it lost many elections. However, even with such an outcome, the crusade against secular democracy waged with such vigour by the RSS will not be won.

The appetite and moral courage to fight majoritarian politics head-on stands perilously weakened among Opposition political parties. Whatever the final outcome, this fight to salvage, defend and fortify secularism will have to be fought by the Indian people.

India is today a wasteland of compassion. It will take generations to clean out the toxins of hate from Indian society. It is a battle that must be waged with courage, with perseverance and with love. History in the end is on our side.

Harsh Mander is a human rights worker, writer and teacher.


The Telegraph – What soured the promise of Kashmir

The Centre’s impositions erode Jammu and Kashmir’s guaranteed autonomy

Sunanda K. Datta-Ray

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 09 March 2019. It’s a paradox of politics that the world’s largest democracy should rely on a feudal fiat in the grim battle against terrorism. In bombing Balakot so that terrorists can never feel secure even in Pakistan’s remote and rocky Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, India should have enjoyed the vigorous support of the 14 million inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir.

Instead, it can cite only an authorization by the flamboyantly styled “Shriman Inder Mahander Rajrajeswar Maharajadhiraj Shri Hari Singhji, Jammu and Kashmir Naresh Tatha Tibbet adi Deshadhipathi, Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir State” on what a British historian called “no more than a printed form, not unlike an application for a driving licence”.

Whether Hari Singh signed the accession document on October 26 or 27, its legality is above question. Its moral validity isn’t. People can depose a ruler; no ruler can abolish the people. Some of the assumptions on which the decision was based no longer exist. The maharaja was desperate to save Kashmir from the savagery of the Pakistan-backed invaders.

His prime minister, Mehr Chand Mahajan, warned Jawaharlal Nehru that if India didn’t respond, he would go to Mohammed Ali Jinnah. “Of course, Mahajan, you are not going to Pakistan,” retorted Vallabhbhai Patel. He could say that with confidence because he knew Nehru had forced Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, the Dogra dynasty’s sworn enemy, on the ruler.

Abdullah didn’t get on with Jinnah either. Jinnah, in turn, had been advised that Kashmiris weren’t “true Muslims”. Hari Singh must have signed the accession instrument and appointed his arch-enemy to head the government (relations were “tense and antagonistic” says Karan Singh) with gritted teeth.

The Sheikh supported him because he felt that the new nationalism called Kashmiriyat “which posited that Muslims and Hindus in the Kashmir region shared a distinct Kashmiri identity” would be safer in liberal, secular, democratic India than in a dominion born in the crucible of Jinnah’s two-nation theory.

The success of Kashmiriyat explains Kashmiri refusal to support Pakistani infiltrators in the Kargil war.

As grenades burst, blood flows and Kashmiris are beaten up, India needs popular sanction for its policies. According to some estimates, the terrorism, insurrection, rebellion, call it what you will, killed 80,000 people between 1989 and 2002 alone.

The return to ‘normalcy’ indicated by the promised resumption of talks on the Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims doesn’t translate into peace on the ground. Villages along the Line of Control report intensified firing. India accuses Pakistan of violating the border ceasefire three to four times a day on average.

No doubt the other side paints an equally grim picture. The young mother and her two children aged five years and 10 months who were bombed out of existence on March 1 in Salotri village of Poonch or the 17-year-old youth who was blasted to death in Jammu on Thursday do not interest the applauding galleries packed by a well-heeled business community that has calculated it can maximize profits while the sun of the National Democratic Alliance shines.

In a sense, the problem is self-perpetuating. Separatist sentiment can claim to derive legitimacy from Article 35A and even a drastically attenuated Article 370. But the massive upheaval their abolition is bound to provoke might make the present conflict look like child’s play.

The solution (which China has tried in Xinjiang and Tibet) of letting Kashmir be “overrun by people whose sole qualification might be the possession of too much money and nothing else, who might buy up, and get the delectable places”, as Nehru put it when defending Article 35A, could mean worse bloodshed.

Ignoring the Pandits’ eviction in 1989-90 and the 2008 furore over allocating 99 acres of forest land in the valley for Hindu pilgrims, the NDA tested the waters three years ago.

A think tank reportedly with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh links challenged Article 35A in the courts. The controversy over the citizenship (amendment) bill confirms that the northeastern states would also resist an influx of outsiders.

But Sheikh Abdullah didn’t see accession in respect of only communications, defence and external affairs as the end of the road.

Whether or not he was engaged in conspiracy, two American diplomats he spoke to, Loy Henderson, ambassador to India, and Warren Austin, Security Council representative, confirmed that Indian suspicions about his political ambitions were not unfounded.

It may be relevant in this context that he turned down Nehru’s request to place the accession instrument before the constituent assembly in August 1952, probably fearing it might be rejected, a fear Nehru shared.

The assembly itself was of dubious standing since the election to it was widely criticized and the ruling National Conference held all 75 seats. This flawed institution finally voted on February 6, 1954 to ratify an instrument that had been signed seven years earlier.

Much water had flowed down the Jhelum and Chenab in those seven years. The Sheikh had been ousted and imprisoned. The wits said his successor, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed, was Delhi’s golam.

Very little remains of the original compact between India and Kashmir. “Article 370 has been reduced to an empty shell, whereby 260 out of 395 Articles of the Indian constitution, 94 out of 97 entries in the Union list and 26 of the 47 entries in the concurrent list, have been extended to the state of Jammu and Kashmir in a brazen manner,” the state High Court Bar Association lamented.

The latest affront is from the extension to Kashmir of the new 10 per cent quota for economically weaker sections as well as the Central law making Dalit and tribal state employees eligible for reservation in promotions.

The objection is not to the substance of these measures but that such impositions erode Kashmir’s guaranteed autonomy. What P. Chidambaram calls today’s “muscular, militaristic and majoritarian” approach shows no trace of the enlightenment of P V Narasimha Rao who replied “the sky’s the limit” when asked how much autonomy Kashmir should enjoy.

There are many reasons for revisiting the circumstances that soured the promise of Kashmir as an enthusiastic junior partner in realizing Nehru’s dream. As A S Dulat, the former chief spy, stresses in his book, Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years, “[T]he reason that people in Delhi have reservations about talking to separatists and Pakistanis are the very reasons we need to talk to them for.”

There is no other way. Despite Arthur Moore’s claim, which I have quoted before, that “there will never be satisfactory relations between India and Pakistan till the Kashmir issue is amicably settled”, long-embedded communal antagonism is unlikely to ever allow a normal diplomatic relationship between the two countries.

The Hindu-Muslim animosity no one mentions will ensure that if it’s not Kashmir, it will be something else. But, yes, Sheikh Abdullah had a point in claiming, “Unless India and Pakistan come close the Kashmir problem will remain.” It’s another way of saying Pakistan can always play the spoiler.

That remains a fact of life but the spoiler’s role would be less potent if pitted against an India backed by the popular will in the troubled state.

Kashmiris had no say in the decision that created what a Kashmiri calls “the most densely militarized zone in the world”. That answers Dulat’s question “Why can a Kashmiri not be an Indian?” Lord Mountbatten has been blamed for much, especially over Kashmir.

But his reply to Hari Singh accepting Kashmir’s accession makes the sound point that “it should be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of the state” Timor Leste and Bangladesh showed that it’s never too late for people’s power to assert itself. That is something New Delhi should bear in mind. It’s also worth asking amidst the din of controversy whether India can’t survive without a reluctant and recalcitrant Kashmir.