indica News Bureau-
Hindu and Muslim group leaders jointly met US Congressman Rohit ‘Ro’ Khanna Monday and thanked him for rejecting the Hindutva political ideology and speaking out for pluralism.
Rasheed Ahmed and Ajit Sahi of the Indian-American Muslim Council joined Sunita Viswanath of Hindus for Human Rights at Khanna’s office in Washington, DC, and “expressed solidarity and support for his commitment to pluralism and justice for all”.
They thanked Khanna for his Aug 29 tweet, in which he had said: 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.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom defines Hindutva as an ideology that treats non-Hindus as foreign to India. Hindutva is the guiding philosophy of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and its ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
“Modi’s political party [BJP] and its cultural counterpart organizations [RSS, VHP, etc] form the backbone of the Hindutva movement,” noted Amar Shergill, an attorney who serves as an executive board member of the California Democratic Party, last month.
Shergill added, “Hindutva is a fascist and supremacist movement similar to white supremacist movements in the US. It mobilizes around a virulent religious ethno-nationalism, holding that India is a homeland for only Hindus, and uses violence to intimidate compliance around its economic and political policies.”
Not everyone has backed Khanna’s stand and the Democratic politician came under attack at a town hall event near San Jose, California, Oct 3. About 30 people, mostly from the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, overseas wing of the RSS, protested against Khanna, who represents the 17th congressional district of California, at the event.
The protestors also held signs denouncing Shergill and Pieter Friedrich, an analyst of South Asian affairs. Khanna’s call to “reject Hindutva” was posted in response to a cover story by Friedrich in the Caravan magazine about Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s dalliance with Hindutva organizations.
“Congressman Khanna set an example for his colleagues by braving the heat to stand strong against supremacy,” said Organization for Minorities of India spokesperson Arvin Valmuci. “He should do much more. The best way to reject Hindutva is to lead the charge against its devious agenda.”
Valmuci called on Khanna to join his colleagues like Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal in challenging the Narendra Modi administration’s devastation of human rights in Jammu & Kashmir.
“We also urge Khanna to take action to expose the foreign interference of the Overseas Friends of BJP in America’s sovereign elections, such as the way they have meddled with the campaign of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard,” he said. “Words speak louder than actions.”
“Hindutva is responsible for an endless cycle of violence against non-Hindus in India,” said Brian Isai, an OFMI activist. “The United States needs to make human rights the touchstone of a relationship with India. Congressman Khanna should put his money where his mouth is and introduce an updated version of 2013’s House Resolution 417, which would require US government dialogue with India to be based on religious freedom and related human rights issues.”
OFMI was founded in 2006 to advance individual liberties of Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs and all aboriginal people of South Asia by encouraging secularism, progressive human rights, liberation of oppressed peoples, and universal human dignity.