A US-based Hindu-American group has launched a mass campaign against a Congressional resolution on religious freedom and human rights in India and urged the US government to continue its policy to not to grant visa to Narendra Modi,the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.
The legislation (HR 417),introduced on November 18,by Congressmen Keith Ellison and Joe Pitts,praises India’s “rich religious diversity and commitment to tolerance and equality,” while raising concerns over the erosion of religious freedom.
It also highlights the alleged role of Modi in the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat.
The resolution has so far been co-sponsored by nearly two dozen lawmakers. Washington-based Hindu American Foundation has described the legislation as flawed.
HAF argues that the resolution blames only Hindu nationalism for communal violence and ignores the fact that 80 per cent of attacks in India in 2012 were carried out by the Indian Mujahideen,an India-based Islamist terrorist group,with much of the remaining 20 percent carried out by Maoist.
“Supporters of this legislation have hired a lobbying firm to encourage Congressmen to support it. We need YOU to counter their efforts by calling your Representative TODAY. We have till Friday 5:00pm to make a lasting impact,” the HAF said in a email to its supporters.
In a statement,HAF said that the resolution fails to mention the attacks on Akshardham,Bodh Gaya,and others in India as well as the communally charged public statements by Islamist leader Akbaruddin Owaisi,Andhra Pradesh MLA,in 2013 against Hindu deities and practitioners.
In its email,HAF urges Hindu Americans to approach their Congressman not to co-sponsor the resolution. On the other hand,the Coalition Against Genocide (CAG) has welcomed the resolution.
“It is a sad day for all Indians,that a man whose complicity in mass violence and suppression of minorities is acknowledged internationally,happens to be the Prime Ministerial candidate of a major political party in India,” said CAG spokesman,Kannan Srinivasan.
“The fact that threats to our secular polity and traditionally rich diversity are now an international concern,should cause all Indians to reflect on the direction ourcountry has taken in recent years. Thankfully,this trend is not irreversible,” he said.
Highlighting the violence that took place against Muslim,Christian and Sikh minorities,the resolution calls on the Indian Government to take steps to stem the erosion of religious freedom and urges Gujarat and other states to repeal anti-conversion laws.
It also calls on the state department to continue the policy of denying Narendra Modi,the Gujarat Chief Minister,a visa for entry into the United States.
The bipartisan resolution calls on India to protect the rights and freedoms of religious minorities,and urges US government to include religious freedom and human rights as part of the strategic dialogue between the two countries.