HinduPACT has issued a point-by-point rebuttal to the Hinduphobic resolution being proposed at the Chicago City Council. Not only is this proposal misleading but it is part of a larger conspiracy to deprive Hindu refugees that are persecuted in their own countries from seeking refuge in India, putting their lives in a grave danger.
Chicago Resolution and the Rebuttal
“RESOLUTION HONORING INDIA’S INDEPENDENCE AND DEMOCRACY”
A RESOLUTION REAFFIRMING THE CITY OF CHICAGO AS A WELCOMING AND INCLUSIVE CITY,
EXPRESSING THE CITY COUNCIL’S SOLIDARITY WITH CHICAGO’S SOUTH ASIAN COMMUNITY REGARDLESS OF RELIGION AND CASTE,
HONORING INDIA’S 74TH INDEPENDENCE DAY,
AND URGING THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA TO CONDEMN VIOLENCE IN THE NAME OF ANY FAITH WHILE UPHOLDING THE DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES AND SECULAR PROVISIONS OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION
- WHEREAS, recognizing that the City of Chicago is a sanctuary city, welcomes all regardless of their background; and
- WHEREAS, the Chicago City Council expresses solidarity with Chicago’s South Asian community regardless of religion and caste; and
- WHEREAS, India will celebrate its 74th Independence Day on August 15, 2020, is the world’s largest democracy, and has long shared a unique and important relationship with the United States in promoting common democratic values and human rights; and
- WHEREAS, India is the birthplace of four major world religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism, is home to the world’s second-largest Muslim population, and has historic Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian populations, with three of India’s 29 states having a majority Christian population; and
The faiths born in India are collectively described as “Sanatana Dharma,” or “dharmic traditions.” For thousands of years, in India, the religious edicts were not imposed on the population and the adherents were allowed to choose their own form of faith and practices, including atheism. This openness of dharmic thought, led Zoroastrians to seek refuge when they fled the Islamic persecution in Iran. India was the only country where Jews were not persecuted in over two thousand years of presence. Christianity has existed in India almost since its inception and has flourished based on the increase in the number of its adherents.
- WHEREAS, India’s Constitution mandates a secular state that upholds the rights of all citizens to the freedoms of religion, expression, and speech and to equal treatment before the law; and
- WHEREAS, President Trump’s bigoted policies within the U.S. including discriminating on religious grounds, targeting vulnerable communities, stripping citizenship, fabricating crises, and stoking hatred, have been mirrored by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Hindu extremist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, and their alarming ideology that Hindus are racially and culturally superior to others; and
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for the first time in independent India’s history, brought a law that gives citizenship and equal rights to persecuted religious minorities from countries that constitutionally treat those minorities as second class citizens. Vice President Joe Biden and many lawmakers from the Democratic and the Republican Party have gone on record supporting similar support to those same minorities.
- WHEREAS, across the country, there has been a surge in the number of mob lynchings of minorities, mostly Muslims, Dalits and Christians, under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership; and
This is a myth perpetuated by those who want to malign Hindus, the countries that are perpetuating terrorism in India and those who are politically opposed to the current leadership of India. Here are the actual numbers from Wikipedia and World Bank:
Communal Incidents in India
This chart demonstrates the number of communal incidents, injuries and deaths in India. These numbers have not seen any significant changes as a percentage of population. While every life is important, the preamble to the resolution as written is factually incorrect
- WHEREAS, the Indian parliament under the leadership of the BJP government and Prime Minister Modi passed the inherently discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which actively creates an unconstitutional, religion-based criteria to grant citizenship to select immigrants – the first instance of religion being used as a criterion for Indian citizenship; and
Indian Constitutional Amendment Act (CAA), passed in 2019 passed by the Indian Parliament is consistent with the American values of compassion for the victims of religious persecution. Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) passed by the US Congress, provides a pathway to permanent residence for Cubans who were victims of communist oppression. The Lautenberg Amendment to the Jackson–Vanik amendment to the Trade Act of 1974. Enacted on November 21, 1989, specifically provides refugee status in the United States for nationals from the Soviet Union and later the former Soviet Union, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania who are Jews, Evangelical Christians, Ukrainian Catholics or Ukrainian Orthodox; as well as nationals of Vietnam, Laos, or Cambodia; and Jews, Christians, Baha’is and other religious minorities from Iran.
Indian Constitutional Amendment Act (CAA), expresses very similar sentiments. India, the largest democracy in the world, with its tolerant Hindu ethos has stood as a beacon of hope for persecuted minorities. The CAA declares India a sanctuary country for persecuted minority refugees from their tormentors driven by extremist Islamic religious frenzy and grants them priority immigration status. It states:
“Provided that any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into India on or before the 31st day of December, 2014 and who has been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 or any rule or order made thereunder, shall not be treated as illegal migrant for the purposes of this Act.”
- WHEREAS, in August 2019, Prime Minister Modi’s extremist government forced nearly 33 million people in the northeastern state of Assam to prove Indian citizenship or face detention at mass prisons and detention camps that the Indian government has begun to build and fill; and
The Indian judiciary is an independent body. The Supreme Court of India in 2013 had directed any government (irrespective of political affiliation) to pursue the National Register for Citizens under which this provision is being requested. So it is disingenuous to blame PM Modi and slandering him with the term “extremist”.
- WHEREAS, nearly two million people were left off the state’s citizenship rolls and a nationwide expansion of this policy could strip hundreds of millions of people (disproportionately Muslim, oppressed castes, women, indigenous groups known collectively as Adivasi, and LGBTQ+ communities) of their citizenship rights creating stateless individuals with no option to be re-naturalized; and
This is a red herring. On 6 September 2018, with full support of the Solicitor General of India, representing the Government of India, a 5-judge constitutional bench of Supreme Court of India invalidated part of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, making homosexuality legal in India. In striking down the colonial-era law that made gay sex punishable by up to 10 years in prison, one judge said the landmark decision would “pave the way for a better future.” [Ref: Time Magazine]
Modi brought Transgender protection rights act in 2019. The ruling party, insinuated as homophobic in this resolution supported the decriminalization, Bharatiya Janata Party senior leader Arun Jaitley stated in February 2014 that he supported decriminalisation of homosexuality. On 13 January 2015, BJP spokesperson Shaina NC, appearing on NDTV, stated, “We BJP are for decriminalising homosexuality. That is the progressive way forward.” [Ref: Mint] The text of NRC in Assam makes no mention of LGBTQ, or any of the population segments mentioned in the above preamble statement. The Indian Supreme Court mandated NRC in the Indian state of Assam was a result of decades old struggle and legal remedies sought by the people of the state of Assam, who were being rendered minorities in their state by the onslaught of illegal Bangladeshis, who were overwhelming the indegenous population, This clause perpetuates the philosophy of those who seek the divide India further.
- WHEREAS, in April 2019, the Indian Home Minister, Amit Shah, compared undocumented individuals to “infiltrators” and “termites”, vowed a BJP government would “throw them into the Bay of Bengal,” and called to expand the citizenship law used in Assam to other states in India; and
The Home Minister of India was referring to criminals and terrorists. Many of the infiltrators are part of transnational criminal gangs who traffic in women, especially underaged girls and children for child labor. They also traffic in dangerous drugs, explosives and weapons that are known to have been supplied to terror organizations. Some of these terror organizations have targeted the American consulates and citizens in the Indian subcontinent.
- WHEREAS, protests in India against these policies have faced violent repression including: police fatally firing live ammunition at demonstrators and arresting thousands — tactics the Modi government and Indian Army have used gratuitously in Kashmir; police attacks against peaceful protestors at several prominent universities; and reports that police destroyed Muslim homes in several cities; and
Kashmir has been besieged by state sponsored terrorism. Hindus were brutally raped and killed by those who claimed their allegiance to terrorists like Osama bin Laden and the Islamic State (ISIS). Hundreds of thousands of Hindus were brutalized and driven out of the state and rendered refugees as part of the Hindu genocide that began in 1989. Pakistan has vowed to take Kashmir from India in any way possible. This agenda driven statement that there were 80 civilian deaths in 2019, where 19 died during the protests where they were hurling projectiles and fire bombs at the local police, 17 killed by shelling by the Pakistani armed forces along the border, while 28 civilians were killed by terrorists who did not succumb to their dictate.
- WHEREAS, the government use of police to brutalize peaceful protestors violates fundamental democratic principles; and
The Government of India allowed protests at the Shaheen Bagh protest to continue for 101 days. This protest blocked a major arterial road in the Capital of the county. This disrupted not just daily life, but also prevented ambulances from reaching hospitals for those who were critically ill. The protest, despite being violent at times towards ordinary citizens and law enforcement was tolerated by the government, and only ended when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the Capital. Contrast this with the situation in CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone) in Seattle, WA, which neither blocked a major arterial road, nor did it impact a million lives, and was dismantled after 23 days. This points to the tolerance of the Government of India.
- WHEREAS, the Modi regime’s repressive and prejudiced policies are inconsistent with Chicago’s values as a welcoming and inclusive city that embraces South Asian communities of all castes and religions; and
India is the world’s largest democracy with an impeccable record of free and fair elections, and a democratic political process. In fact it is the ONLY country in South and SouthEast Asia, that has never been ruled by a military regime. To describe a Democratically elected government with the world’s largest voter representation as a “regime”, shows the malafide intent of those who support this resolution.
- Whereas, the United States has a deep history of individuals protesting against hate, injustice, and government action;
As a country which gained independence through non-violent means, and which constitutionally guarantees freedom and equality to all its citizens, and mandates diversity and inclusion of all, India has set an example for other countries around the world on how peaceful protests and nonviolence should be used to achieve political goals. India’s nonviolent movement inspired leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr and Nelson Mandela. No government can take these Hindu philosophy driven freedoms that are enshrined into the socio-cultural DNA of India.
- Whereas, local, state, and federal government bodies in the United States have supported the right to peacefully protest against unjust policies;
- WHEREAS, the City Council recognizes that citizens of Chicago of all backgrounds have regularly peacefully protested in Chicago to condemn these developments in India; and
- NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the City Council condemns President Trump’s support for the repressive and discriminatory actions of Prime Minister Modi and his BJP government. It also condemns President Trump’s refusal to denounce violence, those inciting violence, and those officials evading their duties to keep order and peace.
- RESOLVED, the Chicago City Council rejects violence in the name of any faith, condemns all supremacist thought, calls for an end of divisions along faith lines, and believes it is the duty of all people to oppose hatred, racism, and authoritarianism around the world.
- RESOLVED, the City Council go on record urging the Government of India to:
- Respect the human rights of all people and adhere to international human rights law,
- Condemn, at the highest levels, all religiously motivated violence, including violence which targets religious minorities,
- Prosecute anyone actively inciting violence, including violence against peaceful protestors and journalists,
- Uphold the Indian constitution by repealing the Citizenship Amendment Act, stopping the National Register of Citizens, and taking steps towards helping refugees by ratifying various UN treaties on refugees.
- RESOLVED, That the City Council go on record urging our congressional delegation to support legislation censuring the Republic of India for adopting discriminatory policies such as the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship Amendment Act; and be it further
- RESOLVED, That the City Clerk be and hereby is requested to forward a suitably engrossed copy to Chicago’s Congressional Delegation on behalf of the entire City Council.
In a statement, Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna has stated that, “Because the rampant religious violence against Afghan Sikhs and Hindus poses an existential threat for them, I urge the US Embassy in Kabul to refer Sikhs and Hindus still in Afghanistan for emergency refugee protection under the USRAP and for the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security to accept this referral without objection to ensure their safety […]. There are deeply troubling reports of ties between the Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence and the terrorist organizations that carried out the 2018 and 2020 attacks, which warrant thorough investigation. […] As US forces complete our departure from Afghanistan, I am deeply worried about the health and safety of Sikhs, Hindus, and other religious minorities under threat of religious persecution and genocidal violence in Afghanistan.”
India’s neighboring Islamic countries persecute minorities with impunity. Recently, a Hindu girl was abducted from her own wedding venue in Sindh province of Pakistan, converted to Islam and forcibly married to a person she never knew. Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, Pakistan deprived Hindu and Christian minority of food, unless they converted to Islam. A couple of months ago, a Hindu temple was ransacked in Pakistan, and the local Hindus were intimidated and forced to withdraw their complaints against four miscreants. In 2010, Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian had a simple argument with a coworker who then accused her of blasphemy. Without any proof, Bibi was sentenced to death. Due to immense international pressure she was finally released in 2019.
Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Jews and other minorities have been killed, forcibly converted or driven out of their homes. Since India’s independence, the Sikh and Hindu population in Afghanistan has dwindled from over 200,000 to fewer than a couple thousand. The Hindu population in Bangladesh has decreased from 30% to 7%. In Pakistan, it has been reduced from 12.9% to 1.6%.
Statements by Vice President Biden and Congressman Ro Khanna are consistent with the American values of compassion for the victims of religious persecution. Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) passed by the US Congress, provides a pathway to permanent residence for Cubans who were victims of communist oppression. The Lautenberg Amendment to the Jackson–Vanik amendment to the Trade Act of 1974. Enacted on November 21, 1989, specifically provides refugee status in the United States for nationals from the Soviet Union and later the former Soviet Union, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania who are Jews, Evangelical Christians, Ukrainian Catholics or Ukrainian Orthodox; as well as nationals of Vietnam, Laos, or Cambodia; and Jews, Christians, Baha’is and other religious minorities from Iran.
Chicago, as a sister city of New Delhi, should respect the sovereignty of India and the democratic values of the largest democracy in the world, which has faced the external threats in the form of terrorims and destabilization by the intelligence agencies of its neighbors. The speeches during the anti-CAA protests explicitly called for the division of India, and cutting off the North Eastern part of India from the rest of the country. Pakistan’s stated attempts to snatch the state of Kashmir, and recent attempts by China to grab lands in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, India is legitimately sensitive to foreign intervention to alter its territorial integrity. This resolution is driven by those who have vested interest in breaking democratic India and converting it to a theocratic state and a one-party rule state.