Teaneck Democrat Municipal Committee says HAF, VHPA, and SEWA International are “domestic branches” of “foreign hate groups”
NEW JERSEY – A Democratic Party unit in a New Jersey town has passed a resolution calling out US-based right wing Hindutva outfits such as the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA) and SEWA International, a controversial charity, as “domestic branches” of “foreign hate groups”.
Condemning Hindu supremacism in the US, the resolution, passed by the Teaneck Democratic Municipal Committee (TDMC) this week, urged US Senators from New Jersey, Bob Menendez, and Cory Booker; Governor Phil Murphy; and Congressman Josh Gottheimer, to ask the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to “step up” research on these “foreign hate groups that have domestic branches with tax-exempt status”.
“Hindu nationalist organisations have infiltrated all levels of politics and were highly effective in blocking US House Resolution 417 which was a congressional attempt to warn against the Hindu nationalist movement,” TDMC said. “Now, most local American elected officials remain unaware and unprepared to deal with the Hindu extremists.”
Along with HAF, VHPA, and SEWA International, the resolution said Infinity Foundation and Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation, too, had “direct and indirect ties to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the rightwing Hindu nationalist paramilitary organisation in India whose ideology are part of Nazism and European fascism.”
The resolution urged Senators Menendez and Booker and Rep. Gottheimer to “revise the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 to address foreign violent extremists with speaking engagements in the US”.
“Extremists who routinely spew venomous hate towards minorities [in India] are invited to speak at large events and temples in the US,” it said.
The resolution noted that Sambit Patra, a “controversial” spokesperson of India’s ruling Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), “served as Grand Marshall” at a parade held in Edison and Woodbridge towns on August 14 to mark the 75th anniversary of India’s freedom.
“A bulldozer which has been weaponised against minorities” in India was part of the New Jersey parade with “giant pictures” of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath as ‘Daddy Bulldozer’. Saying that Adityanath was “responsible for demolishing homes of peaceful protesters,” the resolution added: “Condemning hate incidents is insufficient as hate groups are increasingly more organized, cause fear and harm to people, and need to be identified and monitored now for safety and security.”
Citing the attacks on members of the US academia, the resolution added: “One million emails, death threats and rape threats were sent by Hindu extremists to US Academic scholars, like Rutgers [University] professor Audrey Truschke, and their families when 50 universities supported [a] conference titled ‘Dismantling Hindutva’ [in 2021].”
The resolution said US lawmakers must help pass US House Resolution 1196 that urges the US Department of State to designate India as a Country of Particular Concern, as recommended by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
“Americans need to understand that the RSS’s roots stem from the same place as Italian fascism and German Nazism,” TDMC member Daniel Rosenblum, who voted for the resolution, told IAMC. Added Margot Fisher, another TDMC member: “People are confusing the teachings of Gandhi with Hindu nationalism and they are not the same.”
“When I first heard about [Hindu supremacism] I was aghast that yet another force for repression is reaching into the United States,” Jim Norman, TDMC member said, adding, “Most of us here in the United States are completely ignorant of the reach of these forces.”
Calling the use of the bulldozer at the parade as “horrifying,” Norman said “no one anywhere, including in the United States and here in New Jersey, is safe.”
Another TDMC member, Cheryl Hall, who is a Roman Catholic, said, “Religious extremism touches everywhere, and that needs to be addressed.”
In recent weeks, several rights organizations, including the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), the Council on American-Islamic Relations-New Jersey (CAIR-NJ), Black Lives Matter (BLM), American Muslims for Democracy (AMD), and Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) led a campaign to raise awareness among elected officials in New Jersey about the dangers of Islamophobic Hindu supremacism.