On July 22, 2020, San Francisco, CA City Council became the sixth US city council to pass Indiaphobic and Hinduphobic Anti-CAA Resolution condemning India for expediting citizenship to persecuted minorities in Indian Subcontinent. HinduPACT registered a strong protest against this resolution and urged mayor of San Francisco to veto the resolution. Mayor did not sign this resolution, however, since the Mayor did not actively veto the legislation, it was adopted after a waiting period.
The following letter was sent by HinduPACT to the Mayor of San Francisco.
August 5, 2020
Honorable London Breed,
Mayor, City of San Francisco,
1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl #200, San Francisco, CA 94102
For thousands of years, in India, religious edicts were not imposed on the population and the adherents of different religions chose 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.
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.
The San Francisco City’s resolution, claiming that the law is “discriminatory to Muslims, caste oppressed, women, indigenous peoples, and the LGBTQ community and any other efforts that render vulnerable populations anywhere to become stateless, scapegoated, and targeted for discrimination, violence and the abrogation of human rights”, is a myth perpetuated by those who want to malign Hindus, by the countries that are perpetuating terrorism in India and those who are politically opposed to the current leadership of India.
The Indian Citizenship 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 Citizenship 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 an illegal migrant for the purposes of this Act.”
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 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 as declared state policy. 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.
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 lie and describe a Democratically elected government with the world’s largest voter representation as a “government, with the alarming ideology that Hindus are racially and culturally superior to others”, shows the malafide intent of those who support this resolution.
The resolution calling the Government of India as “repressive and discriminatory actions of the BJP government and refusal to denounce violence, those inciting violence, and those officials evading their duties to keep order and peace;” is also misleading.
As a diverse country with fault lines, and challenges, India has had its share of violence and political disturbance. But, there has been no increase in such incidents against any specific community.
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 the population.
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.
San Francisco, as a sister city of Bangalore, 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 terrorism 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 ruled state.
We request you take immediate steps to investigate individuals and groups that promoted this malafide resolution.