Two Indian American organizations condemn Biden’s choice of Amit Jani as homeland security liaison


Two Indian American nonprofits – Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) and Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) – have issued a statement condemning the appointment of US President Joe Biden’s associate Amit Jani as acting White House liaison to the Department of Homeland Security. They said Jani is closely tied with Hindu extremist organizations in India.

Hindus for Human Rights advocates for civil and human rights in South Asia and North America while Indian American Muslim Council is an advocacy organization for Indian American Muslims.

“Given his documented links to Hindu nationalism, Jani’s appointment sends a deeply worrying message to the Muslim community, in particular Indian American Muslims, and it continues the Biden administration’s disturbing trend of elevating individuals with Hindu nationalist ties to key positions,” said Indian American Muslim Council President Syed Ali.

Jani’s appointment comes just a few months after the appointment of Sonal Shah, an Indian American economist to the Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council. Shah, HfHR and IAMC claim, has ties to Hindu extremist organizations.

Jani was closely associated with Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign as the National Asian American Pacific Islander Director. In a statement, HfHR said that Jani and his family support Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and India’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, and have deep-seated family ties to Hindu nationalist organizations.

“Amit Jani’s refusal to renounce his past support for Narendra Modi is yet another disturbing example of the Biden Administration’s disappointing silence on the rise of violent Hindu fundamentalism and the growing human rights crisis in India,” said HfHR’s Advocacy and Outreach Coordinator Pranay Somayajula.

In 2019, The Intercept reported on Jani’s Hindu nationalist links saying, among other things, Jani himself had celebrated Modi’s reelection on social media. “It was subsequently revealed that Jani had posted photos with Modi on multiple occasions, and that his name had appeared on the poster for an event celebrating the Modi government’s August 2019 revocation of Kashmir’s constitutionally-guaranteed autonomy,” HfHR said.

In a 2014 op-ed ahead of Modi’s visit to the United States, Jani praised Modi as a visionary leader with a “fresh voice” and “creative ideas,” and favorably compared him to President Barack Obama. In response to these revelations, a petition demanding Jani’s removal from the Biden campaign garnered nearly 7,000 signatures.

HfHR’s statement said, “As a Hindu and a Muslim organization dedicated to fighting all forms of hate and exclusion—including Hindu nationalism—Hindus for Human Rights and Indian American Muslim Council strongly condemn Amit Jani’s appointment to this key position in the Department of Homeland Security, particularly given the department’s role in setting and administering the United States’ immigration policy.”

HfHR Policy Director Ria Chakrabarty said, “Muslims fleeing violence around the world, including Afghanistan, need a strong advocate for generous immigration policy at the White House, and Jani’s support for Modi makes him an unreliable advocate for Muslims living in the United States.”