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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

How Zee and ABP News sowed communal poison

Goddamned shame on these two channels, there are those who get cheap thrills in creating tensions between two communities and there are those who work on building bridges.  This article has clearly spelled out how they do that. 

How Zee and ABP News sowed communal poison

Their coverage of Ankit Saxena’s murder was a master class in hate-mongering. Reporting Communal Issues - Part I
JYOTI PUNWANI on how low they stooped

How many dimensions can there be to the Ankit Saxena story? The young photographer was brutally killed on February 1 by his Muslim girlfriend’s family. His throat was slit as her parents and brother attacked him in the middle of a crowded Delhi street outside his home. His mother, who came to rescue him, was also attacked. All the while, the girl, Shehzadi, was waiting for him at a metro station.
The English press fleshed out the context in which the horrific killing took place. We got a comprehensive picture that told us that the lower middle class, mostly Hindi-speaking neighbourhood where Ankit and his girlfriend fell in love, had enough young Hindu-Muslim couples for this couple not to stand out.
Ankit’s father’s plea not to communalise the killing was given wide publicity. He did not hate Muslims because members of that community had killed his only child, he said. He knew the family; they had been neighbours earlier.
The girl’s family had earlier thrashed a Muslim boy who they suspected of dating their daughter.  So obviously, this incident wasn’t merely a Hindu-Muslim issue, though that angle could not be ignored.
The killing could have been discussed on TV from many perspectives: the problems that hound Hindu-Muslim liaisons, feudal attitudes to daughters, the fact that an ``honour killing’’, hitherto not a widespread urban phenomenon, had taken place in the capital, the way murder was seen as the solution, etc.

Stoking hatred of Muslims
Instead, two of the most popular Hindi channels,  Zee News and ABP News, used the photographer’s killing to create an atmosphere of fear and hatred among their Hindu viewers vis-à-vis Muslims and to target Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the ``secular gang’’, both of whom they accused of remaining silent about the killing only because the victim was a Hindu.
Were these angles backed up by reporting from the ground? Did they reflect the concerns of the parties involved? No.
What these channels used were two tweets, both by Kejriwal’s opponents: Manjinder Singh Sirsa, a SAD MLA from Delhi, and former AAP MLA Kapil Mishra, who was expelled from the party after he made unsubstantiated allegations of corruption against Kejriwal.
Sirsa’s first tweet mentioned that Saxena had been killed ``in our own Delhi by so-called `minority and oppressed’ religion.’’ His second tweet requested Kejriwal to announce compensation of Rs 1 crore for Saxena’s family ``like he did for MM Khan.’’ Kapil Mishra tweeted: ``Had Ankit been Akhlaq, my city’s ruler wouldn’t have slept all night.’’
Was it necessary to take note of these tweets while covering the Ankit Saxena story? This is not what the family was talking about. Indeed, when the ABP News reporter went to their house, Ankit’s father told her he was sad at the way news channels were saying ``false things’’ about his son’s death.
"Two of the most popular Hindi channels, Zee News and ABP News, used the photographer’s killing to create an atmosphere of fear and hatred among their Hindu viewers vis-à-vis Muslims and to target Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal"

But that seems to have hardly mattered to the channel.
Surprisingly, even Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari stated that the murder must not be communalized. So why did Zee News and ABP News pay so much attention to the tweets of two lightweight MLAs, both of whom were bent upon communalizing the murder and using it to targeting Kejriwal?
In fact, on both channels, panelists plainly told anchors that their channels were making the murder into a Hindu-Muslim issue for their TRPs.

When anchors turn as hatemongers 
For these two channels, Arvind Kejriwal became the story. ABP News actually opened a show saying the ``badikhabar’’ was that Arvind Kejriwal wouldn’t go to Saxena’s house, but had sent his MP and MLA instead (February 4).The next day, the same channel announced: ``Bada sawaal-4 din baad kyon jaage Kejriwal?’’

Kejriwal became for these channels, a symbol of the ``Muslim appeasement’’ practised by the ``gharwapasi gang’’.  In fact, at the end of a debate that lasted an hour and 20 minutes, ABP News anchor Romana Khan actually blamed ``secular politics’’ for Saxena’s killing, saying this kind of politics had ``sown the seed of hatred and now here was the harvest.’’
In the way they handled the killing, these channels committed offences under Section 153 A by promoting communal enmity and under Section 295 A by outraging religious feelings by insulting religion.
Sample these headlines and statements by anchors on both channels:
``Ankit ko pyar ki saza ya Hindu hone ki saza?’’
``Ankit ke murder par chuppi se Kejriwal banengey Muslimon ke masiha’’
``Kya mazhab dekhkar jagti hai secular gang?’’
``Kya hindu hatyaaon par secular gang ki chuppi ek saazish hai?’’
``Hindu hone ki vajah se ankit ki hatya?’’
``Sare aam beech sadak par gala kaatkar sazaye maut’’
In an ABP News discussion, senior journalist Abhay Kumar Dubey said that the direction of the discussion should be changed, and they should heed Saxena’s  father’s statement not to communalise the murder. At one point, he refused to answer anchor Romana Khan’s question, saying ``I’m not getting into this argument.’’
"In the way they handled the killing, these channels committed offences under Section 153 A by promoting communal enmity and under Section 295 A by outraging religious feelings by insulting religion"

But Khan continued in the style she shares with Zee News anchor Mimansa Malik: viz, ask provocative questions, get the Hindu and Muslim panelists angry with each other, and when the fight becomes too intense, admonish them.
In the ABP News discussion referred to above, titled: ``Badi Behes: Ankit ko Salima ke parivar ne kyonmara?”  
``Hindu activist’’ Jitender Khurana repeatedly ascribed the murder to the mentality bred by the Koran. Khurana’s FB page says he is the founder of the Hindu JagranAbhiyan. Among his latest posts are ``Hail Muthalik’’, a reaction to the acquittal of Pramod Muthalik, Hindu Sene founder, in the Mangalore Pub attack case.
So ABP News knew whom it was inviting for a debate on the sensitive subject of the killing of a Hindu photographer by a Muslim family.  Little wonder that the anchor did not stop him from describing the Koran as a text that preaches violence against other faiths, or asserting that while Hinduism was a religion, Islam could not be called one.
At one point, one of the two Muslim panelists was provoked enough to say that he did not want to mention the stuff written in Hindu scriptures, and indeed he didn’t. But this was the atmosphere of the debate. It finally forced panelist Rifat Javaid (founder of the website Jantaka Reporter) to say that it was debates such as this that led to enmity between Hindus and Muslims.
Indeed, the questions put to the Muslim panelists by Romana Khan made one’s jaw drop: ``Do you follow the Constitution or the Koran? If he’s a kafir, kill him –this is what your religion teaches?’’
In this discussion, Delhi BJP vice-president Rajeev Babbar was sanity personified, maintaining, despite the anchor’s provocative questions, that no one but the girl’s family was to blame for Ankit Saxena’s killing. At one point even he asked why the debate was being taken in a particular direction where entire communities were being blamed. Unable to get any rabid responses from Babbar, Romana Khan would turn to Jitender Khurana and the VHP’s Vinod Bansal.
Interestingly, ABP News Executive editor Vijay Vidrohi (seated at the back, where he could hardly be seen) asked Bansal the tough questions the anchor should have.
On Zee News,  murder was portrayed as representative of the condition of Hindus in the country. In a 40-minute discussion titled ``Muslim vote ke liye Ankit ki hatya par siyasi maun’’, which had two Muslims supporting the BJP line (one was a party member), anchor Mimansa Malik brought in the murder of Chandan in Kasganj, saying he had been killed for raising the national flag (a misleading description - the killing was a fallout of a Hindu-Muslim riot on Republic Day).
She read out a list of Hindus killed by Muslims in the last few months. ``Aur aap kehtein hain Hindustan secular desh hai aur musalman safe nahin?’’ she asked the two non-BJP Muslim panelists indignantly, following it up with: ``Kya hinduo ki jaan ki keemat nahin?’’
"A Google search showed that religion had played no role in what was called the ``serial killing of Hindus’’ by Muslims"

The VHP’s Vijay Shankar Tiwari went so far as to say that if ``Ankit, Santosh, Chandan had not been Hindus, they wouldn’t have been killed.’’
The mischief in this depiction was obvious. First, though one Salim was arrested for Chandan’s murder, an officer had posted on Facebook that it was ``Bhagwa that killed Chandan’’. 
In fact, Malik had no answer to Maulana Sajid Rashidi’s question about what made her so sure that Salim had killed Chandan. He also beseeched her not to compare Saxena’s murder to the Kasganj riot.
Second, a Google search showed that religion had played no role in what was called the ``serial killing of Hindus’’ by Muslims. One had been assaulted by his landlord over rent issues; another was killed by a Hindu with the help of a Muslim; while a third’s killing was the fall-out of Congress- BJP rivalry.

Targeting Kejriwal as an ‘appeaser’
Similar half-truths were telecast about Kejriwal’s reaction to Saxena’s killing. The premise on which both channels attacked Kejriwal was simple, and articulated by his arch-enemy Kapil Mishra: ``Had Ankit been Akhlaq, Kejriwal would have visited him immediately, and given him a compensation of Rs one crore.’’
The channels showed their malafides by refusing to telecast the entire story, reported in the press, that the delay in the CM’s visit to Saxena’s home was because the father was about to leave for Hardwar when Kejriwal wanted to visit him.
Both channels did long programmes on Saxena’s condolence prayer meet, using a video tweeted by Kapil Mishra. 
It showed Kejriwal abruptly getting up and leaving after someone there asked him about compensation, and he replied that this was not the occasion to argue about compensation.As he left, one could hear a male voice saying ``Mr Kejriwal…’’ but the CM paid no heed.
Initially, it seemed as if the person asking for compensation was the father. But the latter clarified on the debate that he was sitting at the back and couldn’t understand why the CM was suddenly leaving.
Zee anchor Aman Chopra tried very hard to goad the bereaved father into saying that he had been wronged and humiliated by Kejriwal, with no success. On the contrary, the father kept praising Kejriwal for the respectful manner in which the CM had met him in his office. All that the anchor could get out of the father was his plea, left unsaid after Kejriwal’s abrupt exit: ``Mr Kejriwal, don’t play games with poor people like me.’’
Here again, the channels’ malafides were exposed by the website Jantaka  Reporter which posted the entire video
The video showed the person demanding compensation introducing himself as a member of a Hindutva organisation and Kejriwal replying that he was in touch with the family, and had told them he would  meet their demands more than halfway. 
Three days after this prayer meet, the Delhi CM’s office wrote two letters to the India Today group and to ABP News, asking them to apologise. 
``The pattern of coverage of the condolence meet clearly shows that your channel tried to give the story of compensation  a communal colour with the intention of disturbing the social fabric of Delhi,’’ said the letter to ABP News.
The letter to the India Today group mentioned its news channel Aaj Tak as well as Mail Today managing editor Abhijit Majumder, and described their ``deliberate and malicious attempt to distort and communalise facts’’. It also asked that Majumder be sacked for tweeting that Kejriwal had left the condolence meet midway after the family asked for the same compensation that ``he paid to Muslim victims.’’
``How is it possible for a newspaper editor to spread blatant falsehood with a clear communal intent without even checking basic facts?’’ asked the letter, which then went on to clarify that Rs 1 crore compensation had been paid to personnel in uniform who died while performing dangerous duties and of the seven recipients of this compensation, five had been Hindus.
One wonders why the CM’s office didn’t write a similar letter to Zee News too.
Both Zee News and ABP News used similar tactics in their debates: out-shouting AAP panelists (the ABP anchor even shut off the AAP panelist’s mike); allowing their Muslim guests to be insulted; and agreeing with the most extreme Hindutva panelists.
Non-Muslim viewers of these channels must have been left with a simmering rage against a community which could ``cut a Hindu boy like a goat’’ and a contempt for Kejriwal’s pseudo-secularism. What of Muslim viewers? They too must have been left with rage, but against the channels.
Kejriwal dashed off a letter - which will probably be ignored. What can an ordinary offended viewer do?

Jyoti Punwani is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.

Monday, March 19, 2018

RSS - Marketing Fascism as Hindu Nationalism

The title of the book may deter some of you from reading the book, and I hope you will make a point to read it.  It is in the interests of all people of a nation to learn each other’s point of view, to enable us to see the complexity of the issue and make decisions that are sustainable and beneficial to all Indians. What is good for you has got to be good for all to sustain. 

A majority of the people within the majority, any nation for that matter– regardless of their religion or race, are oblivious to the world around them.  In the US, a majority of white people don’t even know the apprehensions and fears the minorities endure. 

If you ask the Mexicans, Indians, Blacks, Arabs, Chinese, Somali, and the LGBT community, they can tell you the truth. Likewise, the majority community in Pakistan does not know the pain the minorities go through. Now, the same case is made with the Hindu majority of India; they just have no idea what difficulties, discrimination, and harassment the Dalits, Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs go through. They don’t even know that some of them, among them, are misrepresenting Hinduism. Hinduism does not suggest lynching of Muslims, raping Dalits, burning Adivasis and beating up on Christians.  It is time for the majority of Hindus to take back their religion, Hinduism is not about violence, it is about peaceful coexistence.  Muslims have endured that kind of label on them, but finally, they are regaining control of their religion.

The majority of Whites in America, Blacks in South Africa, Hindus in India, Atheists in China, Muslims in Pakistan and Jews in Israel assume that the other people who are less in number are living a secure life like themselves.    Since they don’t face the problems, they assume all are happy and should not complain. That is not the case; you have to be serious and read the issue to bring security to all people. You cannot be secure if people around you are not. 

Minorities are a group of people who do not have the votes to oppose or rectify the decisions of the majority that may be unjust to them.  As an example, Muslims are a majority in Pakistan and Hindus are a majority in India, Buddhists are a majority in Burma,  but in the United States, all are minorities.

The cover page of the book reads as follows: 
“Indian democratic-secular polity is passing through the most critical phase since its birth on August 15, 1947. Our constitutional polity has been taken over by RSS/BJP leaders committed to Hindutva politics which was neither part of modern India's its anti-colonial heritage nor have been faithful to the principles enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution. The Hindutva politics decried and continues to denounce democracy, secularism, egalitarianism and an all-inclusive India.

This book provides an insight into the philosophical moorings of the followers of Hindutva, and their action plans to convert India into a theocratic Hindu State. This insight is based solely on the internal documents of RSS/BJP and other fraternal Hindutva organizations. It is hoped that this Reader on RSS book will help researchers and common readers in getting acquainted with an ideology and its perpetrators who present the most lethal challenge to democratic-secular India.”

My goal in life is to open people's hearts and mind towards each other so we all can live cohesively and with least conflicts. I am pleased to offer pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. 

Mike Ghouse

Related Articles:

India Bulletin – March 18, 2018

India is at a dangerous curve now – you can laugh all you want to laugh. But if we don’t wake up and restore our democracy, each one of us will lose at the end. http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2018/03/india-bulletin-march-18-2018.html



Religious freedom in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh

There is a dire need to address the violations of religious and political freedoms in South Asia comprising the nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Full report  http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2018/03/religious-freedom-in-India-pakistan.html


Sri Sri Ravi Shankar owes an apology to Hindus

His statements are fodder for conflicts. To suggest that Indians will go to civil war, no matter how supreme court decides is ridiculous.  He does not respect the majority of moderate Hindus and Muslims who have accepted the verdicts of Supreme court in the past without creating a mess.  http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2018/03/sri-Sri-Ravi-Shankar-owes-apology-to.html

Saturday, March 17, 2018

India Bulletin, March 18, 2018

What can we do for India?

India is at a dangerous curve now – you can laugh all you want to laugh. But if we don’t wake up and restore our democracy, each one of us will lose at the end.

Here are a few things we can do;

The survival of democracy hinges on accountability of the actions of the elected, and that will remain intact with significant opposition.  Whether it is the US, India or any democracy, evil decisions have been made when the same party runs the admin and the two houses. We are responsible for making sure checks and balances are in place. I urge even the BJP members to vote for opposition parties just so we have strong opposition. Democracy is what has allowed everyone to flourish, and we cannot abandon that value by giving a landslide victory to any party anywhere.

India has a bad reputation with the US Commission on Religious Freedom (USCRIF). India has not allowed the commissioners to visit India to verify the "alleged” violations of religious freedom in India.  If the government has not done anything wrong, we will get a clean chit, and if we have wronged, we have to fix it.  We are a democracy; we should not prevent anyone from an inquiry.

India risks in-flow of foreign directs investment, if Modi government does not take the responsibility to stop the lynching, harassment, rapes, and injustice to fellow Indians, the investors may pull out of India, as they did with the Apartheid South Africa.  There is a word brewing out there that someday the conservatives want to test our loyalty. They want to know if ever India and US were to be at odds, would we be loyal to America? I know, most of us were not loyal when the US levied sanctions on India upon Pokhran blast, I did a three-hour radio talk show on the topic and was embarassed with the attitudes of fellow Indians Americans. 

What makes you invest in a community or a nation? Apparently, profits and security for your investments are the essential reasons.  If a country is messed up with civil strife and religious conflicts, it is bound to create chaotic situations caused by lynching, harassment, and discrimination of people.  It is in our interest to work for religious freedom across the globe. Let every Indian has the freedom to eat, drink, wear or believe whatever the hell he or she wants to feel.  If you make life difficult for one, all will be paying for it.

We need to reign in on loonies like Yogi Adityanath, in his Raj, you will see more farmers will be committing suicides.  Their bread and butter income comes from selling the animals they raise, if they are afraid to sell it or walk with the animal, their source of income is cut off – giving them no choice but commit suicides.

 On the other hand, the Cows are considered mother by the Hindu community, but they show utter disregard for her.  The farmers will chase them out of their crop fields which will put them on the streets eating trash, and when they die, they will rot on the streets. No one will dare take the cow anywhere for fear of lynching.  However, the beneficiaries are a wealthy few BJP members who will sell the animals to the slaughterhouse for export income. What a hypocrisy! The farmers will lose out both ways as more arable land will be out of crop productions.

 Modern India was built on freedom, a great foundation that gave people the freedom to get along with each other.  But with the injection of religious politics by that infamous Rath Yatra by Advani, Indians were pit against each other for political gains.  A few Hindus may rejoice lynching Muslims, raping Dalit women, burning Adivasis, beating up on Christians – but at the end, the ones who cheer will also meet the same fate in the hands of the tyrants.  We need to have a strong opposition that pushes the government to do the work and not dupe Indians about things that don’t put food on their tables.

The majority of Indian Americans enjoy the freedoms we have in America; we have complete freedom to eat, drink, wear and believe whatever the hell we want, let's work on the similar liberties to our fellow humans in India.  None of us like to be discriminated, why should we allow that to happen to others?

I have urged the Hindu America Foundation to take the lead and work on getting the visas to the commissioners. If they don't want to do it, then the average Indian American needs to take up the issue. We have to save India by doing the right thing and free ourselves from lousy label put on us.

If the investors pull out of India, every Indian will be hurt. We have the responsibility to correct ourselves and ensure prosperity to India for ages to come. 

Mike Ghouse

Pluralism News from the Center for Pluralism, March 18, 2018


Religious freedom in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh

Friday, March 9, 2018 –Washington, D.C., -- The South Asia working group’s initial report to the International Religious Freedom Round-table. There is a dire need to address the violations of religious and political freedoms in South Asia comprising the nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Full report   http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2018/03/religious-freedom-in-india-pakistan.html

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar owes an apology to Hindus

His statements are fodder for conflicts. To suggest that Indians will go to civil war, no matter how supreme court decides is ridiculous.  He does not respect the majority of moderate Hindus and Muslims who have accepted the verdicts of Supreme court in the past without creating a mess.  http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2018/03/sri-sri-ravi-shankar-owes-apology-to.html

Nupur Sharma’s take on Aamir Khan

It was a delight to hear about Mahatma Gandhi, my take is fairly identical to yours.  I am inspired by him – saw him in my dream twice, way back in early 70’s and again early 90’s., both the times, he pats on my back and say, beta tujhe bahut kaam karnay hain. Every year on his birth and death, I publish something or the other about him.  My work on Pluralism is inspired by him.  https://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2018/03/nupur-sharmas-take-on-aamir-khan.html

BJP and Congress Trolls

The difference between BJP and Congress parties is same as between GOP and Democratic party in America.   For example, the Republican would say, “We will win the war, chase Bin Laden to the far ends of the world and catch him” They display confidence, even though they know they cannot do it, but the frightened public falls for that line. On the other hand, Democrats will not exhibit that confidence; because their reasoning minds hold them from making tall claims, but Obama got Bin Laden without making a big deal, but Democrats would not have made the statement about GOP.  Check out every statement made by both sides and study it yourselves.  Both are wrong; there should be a right mix of optimism and pragmatism. https://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2018/03/bjp-and-congress-trolls.html

Meaning of the sound OM (Aum)

I am pleased to share the “Aum” or “Om” sound and its essence. Every faith has evolved over a period of time and has gained wider meaning as the societies interact with each other. http://centerforpluralism.com/hindu-the-meaning-of-om-aum/

Caste Systems – books to read

Caste System in India may have originated with the idea of division of labor, that each person will do what he is capable of. However, it was really a piss poor attitude of men in power to keep the others oppressed to serve them in a variety of ways. The Caste system is an instrument of oppression. Eleven books are recommended to understand it. https://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2018/03/caste-system-books-to-understand-it.html

Democracy in Peril by Swami Agnivesh

A democracy is in peril when the people believe, willingly and eagerly, in illusions and falsehoods. This happens because they renounce the rational outlook and embrace a magical worldview in which someone with a magic wand comes and solves their problems. 

Asaduddin Owaisi – The villain of Indian Democracy and Indian Muslims

Tipu Sultan could have chased the British out of India but for Purnaiah, who compromised Tipu’s position. Now,  Asaduddin Owaisi of AIMM is doing precisely that; weakening the rightful Muslim representation in governance.  Of the 29 Muslim contestants in Uttar Pradesh, 19 could have easily won had Owasi not poked the elections with his divisive candidates. Look at the chart how thin the losses are. He is pure rhetoric and that will not change the lives of Indian Muslims but generate ill-will  http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2018/03/owaisi-villain-of-indian-democracy-and.html

I am offended by your attitude.

If you criticize India, I have a problem, not with you but with your attitude. But, I have no problem if you criticize the governments run by Congress or BJP. Governments come and go, Prime Ministers come and go, but India remains a nation, and a nation is made up of people, and we have come a long way – to the point of respecting the otherness of others, giving dignity to each human. 

If you don't criticize your government, it amounts to giving them free reigns and amounts to chamchagiri. By criticising Rahul or Modi, we will be putting them on their toes to do the right thing.  We do have a percent of bad guys like all other nations, but they are less than one percent of the population. The country is not the same as the government. We have had crooks as ministers, religious men, teachers, generals, business and civic leaders; they are exceptions and not the rule. So, if you criticize India, you are barking at the wrong tree, you are wasting your time. Criticize the individuals; I am okay with it, and not their nation, religion or race. If not, be ready to engage in a dialogue. If you cannot, take a hike.

Mike Ghouse

Religious freedom in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka

A Summary of Religious Freedom concerns in South Asia.   
Friday, March 9, 2018 –Washington, D.C., The South Asia working group’s initial report to the International Religious Freedom Round-table.
There is a dire need to address the violations of religious and political freedoms in South Asia comprising the nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
A critical note – when a reference is made to the Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, India, Russia or others, it is not “all” people of that faith or country.  It is usually a small percent of disaffected people from among the majority who feel threatened about their future and their way of life.
The Center for Pluralism offers a solution to counter that – We need to reassure each other in conflict, particularly those who may be troubled by the changing paradigms and demographics of the society that we are committed to safeguarding the way of life for everyone.  As Citizens of a given nation, we uphold, protect, defend and celebrate the values of liberty and freedom enshrined in the Constitution. We acknowledge that not all constitutions have the element of freedom embedded in it – an example would be the rights of Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan and rights of Arab Israelis.
There are pending issues that are simmering and may boil over one day. We hope to understand these issues and do our share of reporting them to the International Religious Freedom Round Table, an informal group.
This group will identify problems and offer recommendations and possible solutions, and they are;
  1. Monitoring to ensure the individual rights of people are protected.
  2. Facilitate democratic values and hoping for stable political and economic climate
  3. Secure our long-term interests of the safety of Americans and their investments
Governor Sam Brownback, the newly appointed Ambassador for religious freedom, said in the inaugural reception.  The essence of which was -if you want a nation to have peace, give the people their freedom, but if you push them to the corner, their anger will morph into extremism, and everyone will lose in the end.
Here is a summary; a detailed report is in the making and will be produced upon a request.
There is no doubt a lot of good things are happening, but our focus is how to identify exceptional violations of human rights and religious freedom.
The commissioners of USCRIF have been the denied visa to India to investigate, among other things; Sikh Genocide, Massacre of Muslims in Gujarat, the plight of Hindu Pundits and the caster system that mistreats the Dalits who are shamefully called untouchables. Most of the Hindu American organizations have an affiliation with the ruling party in India; we need them to stand up for the religious rights of the people and work on getting the Visas to the commissioners for an honest evaluation of the situation.
The policies of the government will lead to mass suicides by the farmers. The Farmers raise the cattle to sell and eke out a living.  Now, they are afraid to sell the cattle for fear of being killed by the vigilantes and the Government does nothing.  The Cows have gone astray and are eating the farmer’s crops and eating trash on the streets – the cows are treated with disrespect and left on their own, its gross violation of animal rights.
In India currently, you do not have the freedom to eat, drink, wear or believe in the pursuit of your happiness.
A Dalit* groom rode a horse on his wedding Baraat (Procession) in the state of Uttar Pradesh last month; the upper caste Hindus could not stomach the “neech –i.e., the low caste untouchable” ride above them and they ended beat him up. Last week an Adivasi (Tribal) Girl was burnt alive. The upper caste Hindus feel entitled to the Dalit women for their pleasures.  It is an endless agony for the Dalits. They cannot even convert to other faiths to escape these attitudes due to enforced anti-conversion laws.
Here is a report from the Dalit Leaders in India.
“The many millenia old caste systems and the ‘unparalleled social abuse of untouchability (A.J.Toynbee)’ are based on religious doctrines of Brahminical Hinduism. Thus, caste based violations of human rights in India are expressions of the utter lack of religious freedom.
This perilous situation is aggravated by anti-conversion laws that have been passed in many states of India. Their purpose is to prevent Dalits from converting to other religions where they would not be considered untouchable’.https://www.loc.gov/law/help/anti-conversion-laws/india.php
The inferior status that Hinduism accords to Dalits, in spite of the equalities guaranteed by the constitution of the country, reflects in severe social, economic, and educational inequalities.
Dalits continue to suffer extreme prejudice and deprivation, apart from institutional harassment. Violence against Dalits – public shaming, beatings, rape, murder – is a daily occurrence. The law enforcement agencies, police and the judiciary, largely remain mute spectators, if not actively conniving in the violence.
Statistics show that violence against Dalits has only increased in recent years. Religious freedom and equality thus remain a mirage for 200 million Dalits in India. ”
The Muslims are lynched and killed for doubt of possessing beef; fake encounters is common practice to trap the young Muslim boys; RSS (political Hindus in the guise of culture) set the bomb blasts in Mumbai and other places and blamed Muslims.  Muzaffarnagar and other riots were created to pit Hindus against Indians.
Christian Nuns are raped; pastors are chased and beat up in the public. The Christians Churches are burned, and the couples are constantly harassed on Valentine’s Day and Christmas Day. The Dalits are forced to convert back to Hinduism.
Justice to Sikhs is not done yet; mothers are still waiting for their unaccounted children from the Sikh Genocide of 84 where in three days, the extremists among Hindus butchered about 3000 Sikhs.
Blatant discrimination births frustration leading to violent expressions, when that happens the foreign investors will pull out, who wants to invest in a place where their investments are not secure.  It’s happened in India in the mid-60’s, mid 70’s and it has happened in South Africa. The consequences do not bring goodwill.
There is a significant crisis brewing in India, and the Supreme Court will render a judgment about the disputed land and authority to build or not build a Hindu temple, where a 500-year-old Muslim Mosque was razed to the ground.
The Supreme Court of India would review the documents if that Mosque were built razing a temple.  The internationally famed Guru of Art of Living, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has sowed the seeds of discontentment.  Instead of suggesting the public to respect the Supreme Court’s decision, he has predicted civil war if the Court decides one way or the other. He has shown disrespect to the average Hindu and average Muslim who have demonstrated respect to the decisions of the Apex Court, several times in the recent past.
We pray that the Modi government and the State Government will offer strong safety protections to the public at least for a few months after December 5, 2018, the new date of the verdict.
Harassment of all minorities continues unabated. Ahmadiyya Muslims are denied their right to call themselves Muslims. There are numerous billboards that proclaim that it is legitimate to kill Ahmadiyya. The Hindu population is steadily declining as a percentage of the overall population with forced conversions. Christians are targeted with blasphemy and apostasy laws; these are the fake encounters. The Apostasy and Blasphemy laws were created to appease the tyrant kings and have no basis in the religion of Islam, and both are tools of oppression.
The Atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, and Ahmadiyya Muslims live in apprehension; the Atheist bloggers have been killed.  There is a deficiency of law and order.
Sri Lanka
The ethnic violence continues between the Buddhists and Hindus and Buddhists and Muslims. Sri Lanka’s president declared a state of emergency Tuesday amid fears that anti-Muslim attacks in several central hill towns could spread. The emergency announcement came after Buddhist mobs swept through the cities outside Kandy, burning at least 11 Muslim-owned shops and homes. The attacks followed reports that a group of Muslims had killed a Buddhist man. Police fired tear gas into the crowds, and later announced a curfew in the town. The government will “act sternly against groups that are inciting religious hatred,” Cabinet minister Rauff Hakeem said after a meeting with the president.
It seems this nation is free from religious strife at this time, as it has undergone tumultuous political conflicts including a change in the form of Government from Monarchy to a democratic Republic.
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A full report will be made available upon request.
Mike Ghouse
IRF Roundtable – South Asia working group.
(214) 325-1916