Students of ivy league colleges in the United States have written an open letter to the US Congress demanding targeted sanctions on Indian government officials until the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens are repealed and invited American universities and student groups to mark #HoliAgainstHindutva in March 2020.
The letter, expressing solidarity with the civil disobedience protests in India and condemning the treatment of Indian Muslims by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was penned by Yale South Asian Society political chair Shreeya Singh and edited by Yale Muslim Student Association member Ziad Ahmed. The letter was signed by students and members of around two dozen associations, including the Yale College South Asian Society, Harvard College US-India Initiative, Columbia University South Asian Law Students Association and Cornell University South Asian Law Students Association, among others.
The open letter to the US Congress began: "On December 11th, the world’s largest democracy passed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), an illegal and unconstitutional law aimed at excluding Muslims from Indian citizenship. By dividing Indians into Muslims and non-Muslims, the bill explicitly enshrines religious discrimination into law."
The open letter further alleged that since Modi's election as the Prime Minister in 2014, he and the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party have "championed a hardline and revisionist brand of Hindu nationalism, known as Hindutva". "Hindutva aims to erase India’s diverse myriad of cultures and faiths, redefining the country into a Hindu civilization and promoting violent and exclusionary attitudes toward Muslims. BJP leaders have normalized inflammatory and dehumanising language, such as the BJP President describing Muslims as “termites.” The BJP’s parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is a Hindu extremist group that drew inspiration from fascism since its founding in 1925," the letter stated.
The students in the open letter claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Bill is just the latest of India’s many steps to marginalise its population of 200 million Muslims. "The government has imposed a lockdown and communications blackout on Kashmir’s predominantly Muslim population for over four months, and recently released the National Registry of Citizens (NRC) [sic], which will strip hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Assam of their citizenship. Those who are not listed on the registry can be put in mass detention camps and made stateless persons. Meanwhile, rates of violent hate crimes against Muslims, such as mass mob lynchings, have increased exponentially across India after 2014," the letter read.
"We, concerned students: Condemn Hindutva ideology and the Modi government’s fascist and exclusionary treatment of Indian Muslims. Stand in solidarity with the brave civil disobedience movement in India and condemn the horrific police brutality against protesters. Call for the Indian government’s immediate withdrawal of the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Registry of Citizens. Ask the American House of Representatives to immediately pass House Resolution 745, urging the Republic of India to end restrictions on communications in Jammu and Kashmir and preserve religious freedom for all residents. Call on the US Congress to formally express disapproval through targeted sanctions on Modi government officials until the CAA and NRC are repealed, and urge the United Nations to take action against India on the basis of its undemocratic and unconstitutional treatment of Muslims," the students said in the letter.
The students added that the fight for equal treatment for India's Muslims is also fundamentally a fight for India’s foundational values of secularism and democracy. "This is a fight for the future, which must be led by those who will inherit the future. Therefore, we invite American universities and youth organizations to mark #HoliAgainstHindutva in March of 2020. Holi is the traditional Indian festival of colors, which celebrates the country’s vibrant diversity and culture in a spirit of inclusiveness. This Holi, join us in celebrating India’s colorful democracy and protesting the Modi government’s undemocratic treatment of Muslims," the letter concluded.
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Updated Date: Dec 24, 2019 08:00:12 IST