indica News Bureau
A group of American Hindus traveled to Washington, D.C., in an annual effort to lobby elected officials to take legislative action and to promote strengthening US-India relations and condemn violence on the Indian subcontinent, according to the Hindu advocacy group organizing the trip
More than 80 members of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and its supporters on June 24, met with staff of more than 100 Senate and House to voice condemnation of what the group calls “Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir” and according to a statement released by the HAF.
“Our annual Advocacy Day is a great opportunity for HAF supporters to both connect directly with their elected Federal representatives, as well as get a first-hand, insider’s perspective on how Congress works,” said Jay Kansara, HAF director of government relations, said in the statement on June 24, the group’s 16th annual Advocacy Day, which was co-hosted by the Indo-American Kashmir Forum and the Kashmir Hindu Foundation.
The Kashmir Valley and surrounding areas have been going through a long-running dispute between India and Pakistan, which each control parts of the region.
During the meetings on Capitol Hill, HAF supporters urged the passage of House Resolution 408, introduced by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), that that condemns February 14, 2019, Pulwama terrorist attack by Pakistan-based militants in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir that killed 41 Indian police officers, according to the group’s statement.
HAF supporters also called for the passage of H.R. 2123, the US-India Enhanced Cooperation Act of 2019, introduced by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), that would strengthen US-India political and defense cooperation and elevate India to non-NATO ally status, which is reserved only for a few close allies, according to HAF.
On the Senate side, HAF representatives expressed support of two amendments to the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
One of the amendments would bolster US-India defense cooperation in the Western Indian Ocean, the group said.
HAF also called for Senators and Congress members to join their respective bodies’ India caucuses, which now have 108 Representatives and 38 Senators respectively. The legislative caucuses promote hared US and India interests on a variety of issues such as promoting democracy, economic development, human rights, scientific research, disaster relief, and fighting terrorism, according to the HAF.
HAF Executive Director Suhag Shukla declared the group’s efforts a success.
“The scale and scope of this year’s Advocacy Day is a testament to the emergent voice of the Hindu American community,” Shukla said in the release. “We look forward to continuing to work with Members of the House and Senate to strengthen US-India ties, highlight the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits, and address the ongoing threat of Pakistan sponsored terrorism in India’s state of Jammu and Kashmir.”