IAMC and civil rights groups meet with federal and state agencies to discuss the growing threat of Hindutva in the United States.
EDISON, NEW JERSEY – A coalition of leading New Jersey-based civil rights organisations have held several meetings with federal and state law enforcement agencies and sought action against Hindu supremacist groups indulging in anti-Muslim hate and bigotry.
In the wake of several incidents of open display of Hindutva hate in multiple counties across New Jersey over the last two months, the coalition met with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the US Attorney General’s Office, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the NJ Attorney General’s Office, and several other local and national officials with an appeal to initiate an investigation into the Hindu hate groups in the United States.
The coalition included Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) New Jersey chapter, Council on American Islamic Relations-New Jersey (CAIR-NJ), Black Lives Matter (BLM), American Muslims for Democracy (AMD), and Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR).
The IAMC has specifically requested for an investigation into prominent US-based groups with ties with Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) in India. This includes the Indian Business Association (IBA), which was responsible for allowing the use of hate symbols by the Overseas Friends of the Bharatiya Janata Party (OFBJP) during the Indian Independence Day parade in Edison, NJ, in August. OFBJP is the registered foreign unit of Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Most notably, the coalition met with US Department of Justice Community Relations Service representatives Benoy Thomas and Harpreet Singh Mokha, US Attorney General’s Office attorney R Joseph Gribko, and an FBI Special Agent. IAMC has also corresponded with NJ Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, both of whom have condemned the IBA’s use of a bulldozer as an anti-Muslim hate symbol in their parade.
Representatives of the US Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Justice, who met jointly with the delegation, stated that the Edison incident was a “case of intimidation and bias” and offered to help facilitate mediation within the community, including through school programs to foster inclusivity.
“As displays of Hindu extremism in the US become bolder and less apologetic, it is of utmost importance that national law enforcement becomes aware of the hateful roots and rhetoric of Hindutva, a movement that is completely antithetical to the values of American democracy,” said Syed Ali, President of IAMC.
“We are grateful to these law enforcement agencies for taking these threats seriously and hope that this is the beginning of a thorough investigation into US-based hate groups that are directly connected to extremist groups in India,” Ali added.
In each of these meetings, the IAMC and its coalition partners discussed the fascist roots of US-based Hindutva groups having connection to fascist groups in India, which openly commit violent and systemic atrocities against religious minorities. The coalition stressed that affiliates of such groups maintain a growing support base in the United States and are becoming a direct threat to Muslims, Christians, and Dalits within the Indian Diaspora.
The IAMC and allies also held meetings with the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the NJ Governor’s Office, the NJ Human Relations Council, Middlesex County Chairman Kevin McCabe, Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac, and Edison Mayor Sam Joshi to discuss the recent spike in hate and bigotry directed at Indian origin Muslims in particular and American Muslims in general.
Apart from the bulldozer parade in Edison, a local Hindu group in Woodbridge attempted to hold an event in a church featuring Sadhvi Rithambara, a violent Hindu extremist leader and member of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). Rithambhara’s hateful speeches have been described as “the single most powerful instrument for whipping up anti-Muslim violence” in various Indian states. She is understood to have played a prominent role in demolishing the historic Babri Mosque in Uttar Pradesh state.
In Teaneck, following a resolution passed by the Teaneck Democratic Municipal Committee (TDMC) against some of the US-based Hindutva groups, a Hindu radical attended a City Council meeting, where he referred to Muslims as terrorists and rapists. He claimed that Muslims had “enjoyed” 9/11 and immigrated to the United States and India to “destroy” these countries.
“Unfortunately, New Jersey has become the site of some of the most jarring occurrences of hate-Muslims incidents in the country, and we will not allow our peaceful and tolerant communities to be disrupted by the open flaunting of hate symbols and hate speech,” said Minhaj Khan, representing IAMC’s NJ chapter.
“We will continue to work with federal and state law enforcement agencies to hold hate groups accountable because this is not what America stands for,” Khan added.
Photo, courtesy Hindus for Human Rights, used for illustartive purposes