July 29, 2021 - Hindus for Human Rights
Press Contact: Nikhil Mandalaparthy, Hindus for Human Rights Advocacy Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
A coalition of right-wing Hindu American organizations barred HfHR’s Advocacy Director from attending their event about Kashmir near the U.S. Capitol this morning. The event did not include any Kashmiri Muslim speakers, and rather served as a gathering for far-right, xenophobic individuals and organizations such as the Middle East Forum.
© 2021 Hindus for Human Rights
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 29, 2021) – This morning at the Capitol Hill Hotel in Washington, DC, a group of right-wing Hindu American organizations held a closed-door event titled “Kashmir: Moving Forward in a Dangerous Region.” The event was branded as “a discussion on the impact of growing Pakistan-China-Taliban nexus in the region.”
The event was organized by the World Hindu Council of America (Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, or VHPA) through their political advocacy initiative, HinduPACT (Hindu Policy Research & Advocacy Collective). Additional organizers included the Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora and Dharma Sentinel, an organization with no discernable online presence.
HfHR Advocacy Director Nikhil Mandalaparthy was an early registrant for the event. Less than 12 hours before the event began, the organizers rescinded his registration, saying that “we have reached full capacity at our venue, and cannot honor your registration due to COVID protocols.”
A closer look at the event speakers and attendees reveals a conspicuous absence: that of Kashmir’s Muslim population, who make up the majority in the region. The VHPA and other event organizers did not include any Kashmiri Muslim speakers or organizations in their event. How do the event organizers hope to “move forward” without the participation of Kashmir’s largest community?
It is clear that rather than focusing on the ongoing human rights violations faced by over 8 million Kashmiris, the event served as a gathering for far-right, anti-democratic speakers and attendees, including a Hindu nationalist leader who participated in the January 6th riot at the United States Capitol Building.
One such speaker was Cliff Smith, Washington Project director for the Middle East Forum (MEF), a conservative think tank that has been described as “the center of the Islamophobia network” in the United States. According to Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative, MEF “spreads misinformation, creates ‘watchlists’ targeting academics … provides funding to numerous anti-Muslim organizations and has provided legal services to a number of anti-Muslim activists.” The Bridge Initiative notes that MEF and its founder Daniel Pipes “were cited numerous times in Anders Breivik’s manifesto detailing the far-right mass murderer’s motivations for his July 2011 attack that resulted in the death of more than 70 Norwegians.”
These far-right connections extended to some of the event attendees as well. One notable individual who had registered for the event was Krishna Gudipati, a Hindu nationalist who shares close ties with VHPA itself and other Hindu nationalist organizations, including Vishwa Hindu Sanghatan (VSS). Gudipati was one of the rioters at the United States Capitol Building on January 6th, 2021, and notoriously waved an Indian flag at the riot.
This isn’t the first time that the VHPA has hosted speakers with a history of anti-democratic and anti-Muslim views. In April 2021, the VHPA announced a series of virtual events featuring Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, a hate-mongering Hindu extremist leader in India who has called for the “eradicati
on” of Islam and Muslims in India. Within two days of a public petition and awareness campaign launched by Hindus for Human Rights, the VHPA cancelled their virtual events with Saraswati.
Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit nonpartisan organization founded in 2019. We advocate for pluralism and civil and human rights in South Asia and North America, rooted in the values of our Hindu faith: shanti (peace), nyaya (justice) and satya (truth). We provide a Hindu voice of resistance to caste, Hindutva (Hindu authoritarianism), racism, and all forms of bigotry and oppression. We work with a broad coalition of partners to educate elected officials and the public in the United States about civil and human rights issues in South Asia.
© 2021 Hindus for Human Rights