September 17, 2018 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
CHICAGO,IL :— Over the two days leading up the launch of the World Hindu Congress (WHC) 2018 in Chicago, delegations from Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI) visited U.S. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi’s (D-IL) district office in Schaumburg and his Capitol Hill office in Washington, D.C. to register protest against the congressman’s presence at the event.
“The World Hindu Congress is a point of concern for us as citizens, as voters, and also as advocates of those who are underrepresented because the World Hindu Congress, under the guise of a religious event, is actually a partisan political event,” remarked activist Jada Bernard in a September 6 meeting at the Schaumburg office.
In conversation with Staff Assistant Yasmeen Bankole, he said the WHC was organized by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and featured Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders as its keynote speakers. Describing how these groups fall under the umbrella term “Sangh Parivar,” he explained, “Sangh Parivar groups represent Hindutva, which is Hindu supremacy. That ideology is responsible for violence in the past, and because it’s responsible for violence in the past, any association with this group in the present could damage elections in the future. That’s pretty much our warning. Voters care about lives, even if the Sangh Parivar groups don’t.”
On the previous day, Pawan Singh visited Krishnamoorthi’s D.C. office. In a meeting with Legislative Director Sam Morgante, he explained how the RSS engages in violence against minorities in India. Discussing the groups involved in the conference, Singh named Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA) and Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), pointing out that the HSS is the international wing of the RSS.
“When Mr Morgante asked me if the RSS in India is any different from the HSS, I told him no,” says Singh. “Everything falls under the RSS shell organization. I told him our concern is that events like this are trying to legitimize the genocides of minorities committed by the RSS. Our concern is that these terrorist groups should not be given a platform on American soil.” Speaking in Illinois, Bernard added, “We also want to make other congressional representatives aware of this, but we also want to kind of give a warning because, when congressional representatives show up at events like this, it associates them with the ideology.”
Both Bernard and Singh presented the offices they visited with an 18-page information packet. The executive summary of the packet states, “The organizers and many keynote speakers are part of a militant religious nationalist movement which, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, ‘holds non-Hindus as foreign to India.’ As per reports from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the U.S. State Department, these groups persecute India’s minorities (especially Muslims and Christians), sponsor pogroms, and are implicated in daily acts of violence against marginalized peoples who do not participate in their supremacist agenda.”
On Capitol Hill, Singh also visited the offices of Representatives Ro Khanna (D-CA), Ami Bera (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Jeff Denham (R-CA), David Valado (R-CA), John Garamendi (D-CA), and Tom McClintock (R-CA), and had a brief personal meeting with Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI).
Subsequently, on September 8th and 9th, protestors demonstrated outside the WHC for several hours each day. One protestor, a local Muslim man, commented on a placard which read, “VHP, RSS, BJP carried pogrom of Gujarat.” Describing how the Sangh Parivar groups perpetrated violence against Muslims, he said, “I would like the city of Lombard and our congressman, Raja Krishnamoorthi, to not share the dais with these killers and hate-mongers.”
Adding that he had previously voted for the congressman, he said, “I was very much impressed when he came out at O’Hare to talk about anti-immigration when Trump administration banned visas for six Muslim nations. I like the speech which Raja Krishnamoorthi gave at O’Hare. I’m a big supporter of his speech.” In conclusion, he suggested that “I would, definitely” continue supporting the congressman if he had withdrawn from the WHC, as did Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who called it a “partisan Indian political event.”