With international solidarity pouring in amid the ongoing anti Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) agitations and against violence against students in universities, thousands of Indian Americans along with American civil rights activists have pledged to mark January 26, India’s Republic Day as a “Day of Action” with protests in 30 cities across the United States of America.
The protests are being held to condemn the rising fascism and police brutality in India; apart from being a call to get the Indian administration to safeguard India’s Constitution and civil liberties and repeal the CAA and NRC.
In a press statement released by Stop Genocide in India, the protests are organized under the banner “Coalition to Stop Genocide”, in the wake of the Indian government’s relentless undermining of India’s pluralist and secular Constitution. The intention of holding these protests is to call on Congress and the Trump administration to censure India for passing the CAA and its continuing attacks on religious minorities and the caste oppressed.
Keeping in mind the current human rights crisis, Genocide Watch had also issued a formal genocide alert for India on January 7, 2020.
The press statement read, “The CAA applies a religion based criteria to grant citizenship to immigrants. In combination with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR) the CAA lays the legal foundation to potentially denaturalize millions of people who have been Indians for generations. Detention centers being built across India are explicit proof of the government’s intent, given its ideology of Hindu nationalism and its abysmal track record on human rights and religious freedom.”
The organization asked organizations and individuals participating in the international campaign to “urge the US State Department to heed the recommendation of the US Commission for International Religious Freedom and impose sanctions India’s Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The rallies are intended to also urge the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to include India in the list of 10 countries guilty of severe religious freedom violations.
Thenmozhi Soundararajan – a coalition member from Equality Labs said, “The Hindutva brigade that is currently ruling India has grossly underestimated the resolve of millions of Indians to safeguard their country from hate and bigotry. The time to stop a genocide is before it starts.”
Talking about a phenomenon reminiscent of the ethnic cleansing of Uighur Muslims in China, Dr. Shaikh Ubaid, another coalition member said, “We will commemorate January 26 as a day of resolve and action to demonstrate solidarity with the anti-CAA movement in India. The threat of ethnic cleansing of millions of Indian Muslims needs to be recognized by the international community as one of the top human rights issues in the world.”
Syed Ali, from a member from the Indian American Muslim Council echoed the sentiments of lakhs of people opposing the CAA. He said, “A global resistance is rising to hold the Modi administration accountable for its gross violations of human rights and religious freedom, and for leading India down the path of fascism.”
In September last year, Congressman Ro Khanna (D-Fremont) had reacted to an article by Caravan that analysed the history of Hindutva organizing in the US and how the ultra-right organizations cultivated political allies. In a tweet he’d 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, and Buddhist & Christians. This is the vision of India my grandfather Amarnath Vidyalankar fought for.”
While Khanna’s words were loved and hated in equal measure, they did depict his courageous stance; especially at a time when the right-wing brigade are on a path to influence US policy from within the system.
However, the efforts of Stop Genocide in India, coupled with the comments of Khanna and the work of Sadhana, a group that works to mobilize Hindus in the US against Hindutva, seem like a ray of hope that may work to dispel the dark narratives and myths about minorities and get the administration to treat all the citizens of India as equal.