US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Urged to Sever Ties with Indian ‘Hate Groups’

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11 South Asian diaspora groups challenge U.S. congresswoman’s Hindutva ties.

A coalition of 11 South Asian diaspora groups criticizes Gabbard for accepting an invitation to chair the upcoming World Hindu Congress (WHC) in Chicago, Illinois because it is being organized by Vishwa Hindu Parisha of America (VHPA).

Pieter Friedrich

CHICAGO, IL — A coalition of 11 South Asian diaspora groups is calling on U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) to publicly sever ties with Hindu nationalist organizations.

An open letter issued by the coalition criticizes Gabbard for accepting an invitation to chair the upcoming World Hindu Congress (WHC) in Chicago, Illinois because it is being organized by Vishwa Hindu Parisha of America (VHPA). According to the letter, “VHP-A is the American arm of the nefarious Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), an organization whose role in various incidents of communal violence in India is very well documented. VHP is also officially classified as a ‘militant religious organization’ by the U.S. administration.”

In November 2017, Gabbard released an official video stating, “I am so honored to be joining you as the chair of the upcoming 2018 World Hindu Congress.” International media outlets widely reported her involvement alongside news that Mohan Bhagwat, Supreme Leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), will keynote the WHC. The RSS is the parent organization of a family of Hindu nationalist groups known as the “Sangh Parivar,” which includes the VHP as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“The RSS is India’s version of the KKK,” remarks Pieter Friedrich, an analyst of South Asian affairs. “They press an agenda of Hindu supremacy which is practically indistinguishable from white nationalism. Unfortunately, the RSS has gained far more ground in India than the KKK has in the United States. Sangh Parivar groups preach that India is, and always has been, a Hindu nation for Hindu people and that non-Hindus don’t belong in the country unless they glorify Hinduism. Bhagwat’s comments over the past several years reveal that he advances this exact ideology. Appearing alongside Bhagwat is comparable to taking the stage with David Duke.”

In 2014, Bhagwat declared, “The cultural identity of all Indians is Hindutva and the present inhabitants of the country are descendants of this great culture.” In 2015, he said, “Hindustan is a Hindu Rashtra [nation], which is a fact.” In 2016, he claimed, “Our country is a Hindu Rashtra and our ancestors are Hindus.”

The coalition letter further details “Gabbard’s association with extreme right wing hate groups.” The coalition states, “We believe that an elected representative of the U.S. congress like Tulsi Gabbard getting involved with an event organized and attended by such extremist individuals will lend legitimacy to these despicable organizations.” They demand: “Tulsi Gabbard should issue a public statement clarifying that she will not be attending the WHC.” Groups endorsing the letter include:

Alliance of South Asians Taking Action, Ambedkar King Study Circle, Bhim Rao Ambedkar Sikh Foundation, Chicago Desi Youth Rising, Chicago South Asians for Justice, India Civil Watch, Indian-American Muslim Council, Organization For Minorities of India, Periyar Ambedkar Study Circle, Sadhana: A Coalition of Progressive Hindus, Sikh Information Centre.

Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI) has repeatedly spoken out about Gabbard’s links to Sangh Parivar groups. On June 11, OFMI reported that Gabbard would chair the WHC while Bhagwat would keynote. On June 13, OFMI issued an open letter to Gabbard urging her to end her relationship with groups that promote Hindu nationalism. On June 23, OFMI released a video asking when Gabbard will reject links to “fascist RSS/BJP.” On July 12, OFMI released a report and accompanying video entitled “Fascist Hindu Nationalism Besieges India’s Minorities” and distributed them as an an appeal to Gabbard to reject “fascist links.” Finally, on August 1, OFMI released a video entitled, “Does Tulsi Gabbard Represent India’s Religious Fanatics?”

The text of the coalition letter follows:

Subject: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s association with extreme right wing hate groups in India & the U.S.

We are writing to bring to your attention the horrific nature of the hate groups organizing the World Hindu Congress (WHC), and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s ties with these organizations. Our hope is that you, and other progressive voices persuade Tulsi Gabbard to not only withdraw from the WHC, but also to issue a public statement that she will not associate with such groups in the future. We feel strongly that such a statement is necessary given this video in which Gabbard states that she is honored to be the chair of WHC thus lending legitimacy, as a U.S. Congressperson, to the hate groups organizing the WHC.

What is the WHC?

The second World Hindu Congress is being organized in Chicago, September 7-9. The stated purpose of WHC 2018 is: “The World Hindu Congress (WHC) is a global platform for Hindus to connect, share ideas, inspire one another, and impact the common good”. Officially, the World Hindu Congress is being organized by the World Hindu Foundation (based in Gurgaon, India). But going through the names of WHC’s Organizing Council, it becomes amply clear that the real organization behind the event is Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (World Hindu Council of America, VHPA), along with the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh or HSS, the official U.S. arm of India’s Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS. The coordinator of WHC 2018, Dr. Abhaya Asthana, is also the president of World Hindu Council of America (VHPA), and Dr. Shamkant Sheth, the official conference host is also the president of VHPA’s Chicago chapter, while Mr. Shailesh Rajput, secretary of VHPA-Chicago, is listed on the WHC website as the main contact for the conference, with all queries being directed to . Further, Mr. Sanjay Kaul, a VHPA operative, is WHC’s East USA coordinator, while Mr. Darshan Soni and Mr. Moulik Shukla, WHC coordinators for Central and Western USA, respectively, are both members of the HSS.

VHP-A is the American arm of the nefarious Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), an organization whose role in various incidents of communal violence in India is very well documented. VHP is also officially classified as a “militant religious organization” by the U.S. administration.

Why should progressives oppose the WHC?

The VHP and its sister organizations, the RSS and Bajrang Dal are part of the Sangh Parivar, a network of Hindu nationalist organizations. They have a long track record of intimidation of minorities, incitement of hatred and violence, and are linked to many acts of terror in India which have been documented by the Indian and international media, as well as Indian and international human rights organizations such as Amnesty InternationalHuman Rights Watch, etc. The political party BJP is the political wing of the Sangh Parivar. Since the BJP came to power in India in 2014, there have been 100+ mob lynchings of minorities, including members of Dalit and indigenous communities, by these extremist organizations under the disguise of “cow protection”. In most of these instances, the perpetrators are roaming free while the victims, if they survive the lynchings, are being harassed with trumped-up cases for consuming or transporting beef. Elected officials from the BJP have been fostering this environment of hatred- in a recent instance of such brazen endorsement of this violence, a cabinet minister of the BJP was photographed garlanding 8 people convicted of lynching a Muslim man when they were released on bail a year after the incident. In fact, this endorsement of violence goes all the way up to the prime minister- Mr. Modi has continued to follow individuals on social media that celebrated the murder of an investigative journalist, even after that fact was reported and debated in mainstream media.

Many of the attendees of the WHC are elected officials from the BJP that either directly engage in hate speech or have silently endorsed hate speech inciting people to kill and rape minorities. Many instances of such hate speech have been captured on video. For instance, one of the invitees, Ajay Singh Bisht, known as Yogi Adityanath, who is the chief minister of most populous state in India, has many cases pending against him, including for murder and hate speech, and is also the founder of Hindu Yuva Vahini, a vigilante organization. Another attendee, Mohan Bhagwat, is the head of the RSS, an organization that was banned multiple times in India for its involvement in violent communal riots. The perpetrators of many terrorist attacks on minorities in India are either current or former operatives of the RSS. In fact, one of the masterminds of these attacks confessedthat WHC speaker, Mohan Bhagwat, directly ordered some of these attacks.

How is Rep. Tulsi Gabbard associated with the Hindu Right?

Rep. Gabbard participated, in multiple instances, in events organized by the Sangh Parivar in the US:
— Among others, she attended an ‘Overseas Friends of BJP’ (OFBJP) conference in Atlanta on 22nd August 2014, and was photographed wearing a BJP sash.
— In this video of her speech at the event, she admits that she is in touch on a “if not daily basis, a weekly basis” with HAF [0:52]. She also admits that she attended another event with the same group an year earlier [0:05].
— In the same video, she congratulates the audience for their efforts to get the BJP elected
— Another video of the same OFBJP conference, in which Dhiru Shah of the HAF encourages the audience to donate to Tulsi Gabbard’s campaign because they need her support [at 1:00].
— Attended and spoke at the World Hindu Economic Forum in Irvine, CA in November, 2016
— Criticized the testimonial that the vice-Chair of U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom, Katrina Lantos, offered to Tom Lantos’ Human Rights Commission regarding the impact of the BJP government on minority rights in India.
— In December 2013, prior to Modi’s election, Gabbard opposed HR 417, which praised India’s “rich religious diversity and commitment to tolerance and equality” but reaffirmed “the need to protect am the rights and freedoms of religious minorities,” specifically referring to incidents of deadly violence against minority Muslims in the Indian state of Gujarat in 2002, when Modi was the state’s chief minister.
— Attended and spoke at World Hindu Council of America (VHPA)’s Diwali celebration in Atlanta in 2013.

What are our demands?

We believe that an elected representative of the US congress like Tulsi Gabbard getting involved with an event organized and attended by such extremist individuals will lend legitimacy to these despicable organizations.

Therefore, we demand that —

  1. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard should not attend the WHC.
  2. Tulsi Gabbard should issue a public statement clarifying that she will not be attending the WHC.
  3. Politicians and media outlets should hold Tulsi Gabbard accountable for her association with these hate groups.

We look forward to hearing from you in response to the concerns raised above.

Sincerely,
Alliance of South Asians Taking Action, San Francisco, CA (asata.org)
Ambedkar King Study Circle, San Jose, CA (akscusa.org)
Bhim Rao Ambedkar Sikh Foundation, Kent, WA (brasf.org)
Chicago Desi Youth Rising (CDYR), Chicago, IL (chicagodesiyouthrising.wordpress.com)
Chicago South Asians for Justice, Chicago, IL
India Civil Watch, New York, NY
Indian-American Muslim Council, Boston, MA (iamc.com)
Organization For Minorities of India (ofmi.org)
Periyar Ambedkar Study Circle-America, San Jose, CA (pascamerica.org)
Sadhana: A Coalition of Progressive Hindus, New York, NY (sadhana.org)
Sikh Information Centre, Stockton, CA (sikhinformationcentre.org)

_________________________________________________________________

Pieter Friedrich is a Californian researcher, author, and speaker on the interconnections between historical and current affairs

24 COMMENTS

  1. Pieter the writer of this article supposedly speaks for religious minorities, instead, he is attacking a religious minority in America, using lies that are easily debunked using publicly available information.

    He wrote this article Aug 8th, Tulsi resigned from the 2018 World Hindu Congress days after Bhagwat became involved and several months prior to OFMI calling on her to do what had already been done.

    I reached out to Tulsi’s campaign with this question
    “Did the campaign contact OFMI, to correct this misinfo they are spreading?”

    Tulsi’s campaign manager Erika Tsuji responded with,
    “Unfortunately, this is mudslinging and Hinduphobia at its worst. Sadly, rather than celebrate love and aloha as Tulsi tries to do every day (and was demonstrated in her unifying keynote address at the Muslims for Peace Conference: https://youtu.be/HQ6_YdIsGi4), this group is more interested in spreading lies, hate, and division.

    We have reached out to OFMI to correct the misinformation, but they have been unresponsive because they are not interested in the truth—they only want to spread lies and are providing a great disservice to the people of Hawaii in their attempts to influence our primary election.”

    Because his attack was also sent via email to Democratic Party of Hawaii members, it is clear that this mainland group (whose address and contact information appear to be phony) is coordinating with someone here in Hawaii, most likely a candidate in the race who has access to the voter list and emails of Democratic Party members.

    He is doing a disservice to his organization, damaging their credibility with his misinformation.

    It appears that he’s just another political hit man not actually seeking religious freedom but criticizing another’s religious freedom. The height of hypocrisy.

    if you want to know Tulsi’s stance on religious freedom I suggest you watch Tulsi’s keynote speech at the 2016 Reason Rally.
    This speech goes into depth as to how she strongly stands for secularism and religious freedom for all:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsOS-YiXXB8

    • Is Pieter a white supremacist or hate monger ? This article manifests nothing but bitterness and hate. The very people who say they stand opposed for hatred spew venom, that is the Irony.

      Hinduism/RSS/VHP are religious and social service organizations like any other religious organizations. The lies perpetrated are preposterous and obviously these people do not have a worldly view nor understanding of what faith and God stand for.

      Under the guise of victimization and minority status, each one is filthy rich and milk the provisions, support, nurture provided by the Indian government yet incite people against the state. These are not victims but people with radical communist and radical ideology that can not stand other groups that are much better, positive and compassionate.

      Infact, the organizations listed are no different than the radical Muslim organizations that come under terrorism laws and should be blacklisted.

  2. ” celebrate their identity and proudly display the diversity in this country. Such a vibrant minority in this country, helping take it to new heights with their hard work and peaceful demeanor, and then this article comes along, spewing all kinds of hatred on such a wonderful component of American democracy.

    It is actually anti-American to try to attack and dismantle such a key component of this great country’s pluralistic assemblage of folks from all over the world. Shame on these special interests.

  3. The author is a Hindu phobic. He relied on left liberal and Nexali narrative. He should have listened to the other side also.

  4. Comparing RSS with White nationalist is like comparing Obama with Osama bin laden . RSS is a organization made for social service and promote the Indian Cultural Idea. It has its own minority wing and also is very diverse , It has members from every caste of India. Further it is also very tolerant of new idea. But you are attacking it just because it is against the ideas of “leftists”. RSS is a organization I am proud of . And anyone who really wants to know about RSS should visit a “shakha” . Unfortunately , It is not very active online so such blatant lies are propogated against it.

  5. This article is purely a hate speech against Hindus and certainly show the contempt writer has for Hindu minority(basically all Hindus) in America
    But what can i say that haven’t been said before you can howl all you guys want but you can’t intimidate us anymore
    This is the language White colonizers used to speak just half a century ago but not anymore,no one gonna tell us Hindus who to support or who to condemn it’s totally upon as whom we choose our leader and whom we wanna follow and which event we gonna organized so kindly buzz off
    And by the way 90% of these charges are “what he said /she said” they ain’t have any legal ground so basically this guy is spewing as many lies as he can in this article hence, his condemnation need to be submitted in harshest of the word
    By the way organizations which this guy is tagging actually many of them had terrorist link and if sources of their funding be tracked we gonna have not so surprising results of those organisation being terrorist/radical’s/Evangelistic funded and this reporter guy being devil’s advocate

  6. Most of these organisations that are opposing the WHC at Chicago are anti-Hindu. They can be ignored. RSS has nothing against it anywhere and is a nationalistic organisation.

  7. The heading should hate groups ask Tulsi to severe ties with Hindu groups. All the organizations listed have hatred for Hinduism.

  8. What a joke this Pieter Friedric guy is. He references himself in his own article. “The RSS is India’s version of the KKK,” remarks Pieter Friedrich, an analyst of South Asian affairs. Not only is this completely incorrect, it is a pure concoction by the author. Without a shred of evidence he is writing absolute bunkum, playing minion to the leftist cabal. Shame, shame, shame. Atrocious journalism without an ounce of respect for truth.

  9. u ppl try to undermine our hindu civilization. and also try to convince the world about AIT. u ppl will get a befitting reply now. u ppl are terrorist sympathizer and breaking india forces.

  10. Many lies on this article RSS is parent of VHP. RSS never wanted non Hindus to be outside India. Hindu is a cultural term and not religious as per RSS. Dr. BR Ambedkar himself said every person will get to vote in Hindu Rashtra with equal rights and will not in Islamic Pakistan. See misinterpretation is the reason for writing such articles

  11. You people working with a group of Urban Naxals of India who support killing of 4 years old kids with hammer by Naxals in tribal areas of India are the real problem. Every Penny that you sick people obtain from good heart but naive American for your humanitarian causes in India goes into arming Naxals and killing civilians.

    If there’s any phobia, it’s Hinduphobia not Islamophobia. For what have we done to anyone in the world? But yet we get demonised by these Communists group of India on world platform.

    And RSS is not KKK. RSS has every religious members in all its branches and 6 million members. It recently saved and served Kerala flood victims. It’s nationalist organisation and unlike you people, we don’t hate nationalism.

  12. Hi
    I am Hindu from India and not part of any major religious or political group. This article is purely based on misinformation and hate against Hindus.
    I would urge the readers to distance from such articles and condemn such writers.
    Hindus have shown exceptional tolerance towards Minorities- be it Muslims, Parsis or Christians.
    Muslims and Christians has huge population in Bharat(2nd largest Muslim population we have), but now Wahabi and extremists of Islam are a danger for our nation and you guys also feeling heat now.
    So please wake up and counter the false narrative of Communists and fake Liberals.

  13. RSS is the only organisation in the world working with moto of vasudhaiv kutumbakam, i.e. entire world is one family. There are many Christian and Muslim who attends RSS Shakha regularly.
    Hate organisation are those who comes up with ” holier than thou” attitude. They think there way in the only way and others are uncultured primitive who needs to be converted. If these people look back just 5 centuries back then with same attitude they have done genocide of millions of native red indian in North America , south america, Australia. Hindus have never done genocide of anyone in history , they have suffered genocide for last 1200 years, still they never think of any revenge.

  14. Is ‘Caravan Daily’ on the forefront of Hindufobia?
    Good on you guys, for helping!
    You are helping in increasing the Awareness. Come One, Come All and make this a Success!👍👌💐

  15. Despite multiple calls to her office from OFMI and others, Tulsi Gabbard has never issued a public statement clarifying about her attendence of WHC. She previously released a video declaring she was honored to attend the WHC: https://youtu.be/GeSji115-9M . To this day, it is not clear whether or not she will be attending the WHC, and if not, why she changed her stance after the video above, other than random commenters in online forums making unsubstantiated claims that she will not be attending. For all we know, she might still be attending WHC as a delegate to please her sanghi donors.

  16. The mention and comparison of KKK in the same article is really the height of misinformation in addition to all other allegations being untrue and baseless. These seem to have been simply picked off “Hate India ”/ Hinduphobic groups / sites.

    I urge Pieter Friedrich to try an get the right understanding about India , hinduism , hindutva , VHP and RSS through a non-western lens that this is perhaps one of the the most liberal, inclusive & secular approach in today’s world.

    I have no idea or interest in Pieter Friedman’s political leanings / agenda , but the viciousness of the article does indicate extreme right bigotry under the misleading garb of a liberal. Rather ironic !!

  17. Hinduphobia at its zenith. Please stop taking sides and drive your agenda. If you are sharing only one side of the story and urging people to take a stand then it is simply a prejudiced mind overworking. Be honest to your profession. Present both the story from both the side.

  18. Has any one seen the language used by Periyar Ambedkar Study Circle members? Actually they are the real fascists. In the name of minorityism and `Human Rights’, Leftists, evangelists, Jihadists and similar forces are out to spread Hinduphobia and to Break India. Has any one seen similar outrage against any Muslim meet in the U.S.? It is clear who all are behind this sinister campaign, but it will not succeed.

  19. OFMI denies ever receiving any kind of contact from Tulsi Gabbard’s of by phone, email, or any social media platforms, or any methods.

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