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Indian-Americans protest against the increasing Hate Crimes in the US

Indian-Americans protested in front of the White House following the hate crime incidents seeking the President’s support

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A peaceful protest by Indians; (representational Image), Wikimedia

Washington, Mar 20, 2017: Indian-Americans held a rally in front of  the White House to raise awareness against the increasing hate crimes, seeking some acknowledgement on the matter from President Donald Trump. They said that Indian-Americans, Hindus and Sikh in particular have become victims of xenophobia and Islamophobia in the US.

“Hindus have been recently affected and victimised (in the US) as a result of Islamophobia. It does affect our community as well,” Vindhya Adapa, 27, a Virginia-based corporate lawyer, told PTI outside the White House on Sunday.

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A few dozen Indian-Americans including Adapa, representing different Indian-American groups from in and around Washington, following the recent increase in Hate Crimes, carried out a peaceful parade.

A young Indian-American doctor, S Seshadri said, “A recent example of it is the recent shooting and murder of an IT personnel in Kansas, after he was mistaken for an Arab or Muslim. In my view, the current political climate is going to eventually target all communities including Hindu-Americans.”

“We are here today to spread awareness against hate crimes specifically against Indian-origin people. This is not essentially a demonstration against Trump and his administration. We are here seeking support against the hate crimes that has recently been happening against Indian-Americans,” said Adapa who urged the President to intervene in the matter.

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“ i would say what is happening against the Indian-American community today is a result of xenophobia, islamophobia and the anti-immigrant statements that have come out from the administration,” she claimed.

A petition Memorandum has been submitted to the President, by the recently established Coalition of Indian American Organisations of the USA, urging him to  interfere in this matter and take measures to punish the culprits under the federal hate crime law.

It also urged President Trump to eliminate the fears of the Indian-American community and show his support, taking steps to eliminate the hate.

The petition read,” A message should go out to the people of this country from the administration that no citizen should take the law into their hands and it will not be tolerated by the government.”

-Prepared by Nikita Saraf, Twitter: @niki_saraf

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Indian-Americans Slam Singer Mika Singh for saying ‘Humara Pakistan’ in an Independence Day Video

In spite of the controversies, Mika Singh performed in Houston and Chicago

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Mika Singh faces wrath for saying humara Pakistan
Mika Singh faces wrath for saying humara Pakistan. Twitter
  • 15 August ko humara Hindustan azaad hua tha aur 14 ko humara Pakistan, says Mika Singh 
  • He received a lot of criticism for it from Indian- American public, Indian politicians
  • Indian Americans in large numbers strongly criticized the ill-timed video

New Delhi, August 14, 2017: Mika Singh performed in  Houston and Chicago on August 12 and 13 respectively to celebrate Pakistan and India’s Independence Day. He received a lot of criticism for it from Indian- American public, Indian politicians, twitter world and the FIA).

Earlier, the organizers of the show posted a video of Mika talking about his performance in which he said that he’s looking forward to celebrating the Independence Day of India and Pakistan. He said, “15 August ko humara Hindustan azaad hua tha aur 14 ko humara Pakistan,” The 40-year-old singer drew criticism for saying ‘humara Pakistan’  and evoked angry twitter reactions- “Shame on you. Are you celebrating Pakistani Day? Do you know how many of our Army Jawans are being killed by Pakistan?” a user tweeted.

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FIA is a non-profit umbrella organization of other Indian associations in the Chicago land and Mid-West area for the Indian community. Iftikaar Shareef, Trustee Chairman FIA said, “We will not tolerate you (Mika Singh) participating in Pakistan’s Independence Day.” He also said that if he’s coming to Chicago he should better be prepared for actions taken by them. As per a collective vote, he said that Mika is not welcome to Chicago if he goes to Houston. Kanti N. Patel, president of FIA said, “We should oppose Mika Singh’s performance as Indians.” They said that they will protest if he performs in Houston for Pakistan’s Independence Day and then comes to Chicago to celebrate Indian Independence Day.

WATCH THE VIDEO: FIA Press Conference Condemning Mika Singh 

The federation includes groups like Indo-American Association of Greater Houston, India Culture Center, India House, Gujarati Samaj of Houston, Graduate Indian Student Organization of the University of Houston and Patanjali Yogpeeth.  “We have a strained relationship (with Pakistan)… If he has any sense of patriotism, he should cancel this concert. Money is not everything in life. Country comes first always,” said Col (rtd) Vipin Kumar, executive director India House Inc who wanted the concert to be canceled.

Amee Patel, president of Gujrat Samaj, Houston, said: “As an organization of Indian-origin (people), we fully stand behind our flag and our other Indian community organizations in protesting against this event and we do not support this event in any fashion.” Swapan Dhairyawan, a community activist and former president of the India Culture Centre, said that it would not have been an issue if the artist was performing for a regular concert. But he emphasized it as a celebration of Pakistan’s Independence Day and saying in his viral video ‘Humara Pakistan’ is unforgivable and unfortunate.

Indian Americans in large numbers strongly criticized the ill-timed video and expressed their anger towards the statement that the show is a joint celebration. They said that the video comes across as a ‘cruel joke’ in the wake of the ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the LoC, resulting in deaths of many innocent civilians and the armed forces personnel.

According to a PTI report, Ramesh Shah, an Indian-American philanthropist said   “Celebrating India’s Independence Day is for those who believe in India and its freedom and democracy…It can never happen with Pakistan, and not when they are sponsoring and supporting Pakistani terrorists on the Indian soil.”

Mika Singh also drew the ire of several political parties. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) Chitrapat Sena Chief Amey Khopkar tweeted, “Mika Singh is doing Hamara Pakistan concert in USA. Open challenge to him, try holding a mic (microphone) in Maharashtra now,” The MNS leader said that he would write to CM Devendra Fadnavis seeking suitable action against the singer for his unpatriotic remarks.

Later, on August 12, MNS staged protests in Mumbai, Pune and Nashik, burned the Pakistani flag and effigies of Mika. Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam said, “He should know that the Pakistan which he is praising is our enemy. Pakistan always plans and plots against India and to praise such a country is incorrect.” Nirupam has asked Mika to apologize for his shameful act and to withdraw his statement. Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut also spoke on this issue and said that the artists should not compromise on patriotism over commercial benefits.

 ALSO READ: Delhi police arrests singer Mika for assaulting doctor at an event

India and Pakistan are not on good terms and there is a lot of tension between the two countries so this is not a correct time for an Indian artist to perform in Pakistan, celebrating their Independence Day when after the 2016 Uri attack all the Pakistani artists were banned to work in India. Twitter users criticized Mika Singh:


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US Senate Confirms Three Indian Americans picked by President Donald Trump to Key Governmental Posts

The Senate has unanimously confirmed three Indian-Americans to key government positions, including one as the Trump administration’s czar on intellectual property

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US Senate
Donald Trump appoints three Indian-Americans to key govt posts. Wikimedia Commons
  • The Senate confirmed Neil Chatterjee as a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • Vishal Amin is the Intellectual Property (IP) Enforcement Coordinator in the Trump administration
  • Krishna Urs is confirmed as the US ambassador to Peru

Aug 06, 2017: The US Senate has confirmed three Indian Americans picked by President Donald Trump for key governmental posts.

Neil Chatterjee was confirmed on Thursday as a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which oversees electricity, natural gas, and oil at the national level. Krishna R. Urs was confirmed as the Ambassador to Peru while Vishal Amin got the post of White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator.

Chatterjee will play a key role in Trump’s programme to reshape energy policy, most of which is opposed by environmentalists and Democrats. He is the second Indian American to be appointed by Trump to a major regulatory position with a controversial mission.

Chatterjee held the influential position of energy policy advisor to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and helped shape energy legislation. His work backed the Senator’s campaign against regulations to restrict use of coal for electricity generation.

Also Read: US to probe into complaint: Does Harvard University discriminate against Indians, Asians?

Among issues he will likely deal with are Trump’s plans to allow the construction of the Keystone pipeline to carry crude oil from Canada to Texas in the US, which was stopped by former President Barack Obama, and several gas pipeline projects.

Krishna Urs has been a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. He is currently Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Madrid. Urs took over after James Costos, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, resigned.

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Urs, a 30-year veteran of the foreign service was earlier the Deputy Chief of Mission in Spain. Urs, who knows Spanish, Hindi and Telugu, has specialised in economic issues and has developed extensive policy experience in the Andean region of South America, the White House said.

Vishal Amin is currently serving as a senior counsel for the US House Judiciary Committee. The IP enforcement position was created in 2008 in order to help the government combat online piracy.

Amin served in the administration of George W. Bush as the White House’s associate director for domestic policy and as special assistant and associate director for policy in the United States Department of Commerce. (IANS)

 

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Forced Conversion of Hindus in Umerkot and Tharparkar Districts

The Hindu girls and women are constantly under threat from the Muslims

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Forced Conversion
Young Hindu girls and women are at great risk of forced religious conversions in Sindh province of Pakistan. Wikimedia
  • Thousands of young girls and women have been victims of forced conversion in Umerkot and Tharparkar districts
  • Forced conversions and Muslim men eloping with underage girls are frequent in the area
  • Rising fundamentalism in the region has led to such a situation

July 26, 2017: Many believe that religious identity is one of the strongest identity to categorize an individual. It strongly reflects one’s background and growing up. Hence, it is an aspect of life that most people hold dear to them. But forced conversion, a violation of basic human rights, is changing the person’s identity at their very core.

In the Umerkot and Tharparkar districts of Sindh province, Pakistan, there have been multiple incidents of forced conversion. Young Hindu girls and women have been forcibly converted to Islam. Many young girls have to give in to the impositions of the older Muslim men.

Particularly those girls belong to scheduled castes have been the victims. Recently, Ravita Meghwar’s case has caused the issue to come under the spotlight. Ravita, a 16-year-old girl, was abducted by a group of men who belong to an influential Muslim community in Tharparkar district. Pir Ayub Jan forcibly converted Ravita and married her off to one of the kidnappers.

This was the story that Ravita’s parents narrated. However, Ravita herself denied any such claims by her parents and told the court that it was her decision to run off. She made her decision of staying with her husband clear to the court.

Such stories have been emerging time and again in the Umerkot and Tharparkar districts, where a large number of Hindus reside. In fact, Tharparkar district’s population is 50% Hindu.

Historically, things have drastically changed today. The Hindu and Muslim community in Umerkot and especially Tharparkar district co-existed peacefully. The marriage between a Muslim man and Hindu woman was very acceptable among the community. But now, Tharparkar is like any other part of Pakistan that has become divided along religious lines.

[bctt tweet=”Men armed with guns abducted their daughters, Samjoo and Sonari, in the midnight of 15th January 2016.” username=”NewsGramdotcom”]

In November 2016, the Sindh Assembly had passed a bill against the practice of forced conversion. However, when some religious organizations threatened agitation and instability if the bill was to pass, the governor’s signature never made it to the proposed bill. Now with increasing cases of conversion, the urgency of the bill is in demand again. But to what extent it will be successfully passed remains to be seen.

Dawn reports that the Samaro tehsil’s Pir Ayub Jan Madrassah is responsible for the conversion of thousands of young girls and women. The Pir Ayub Jan’s younger brother proudly tells his tales of conversion but maintains that none of them have been forced.

Pir Ayub Jan is reportedly gathering support for a movement against the bill in Karachi. Simultaneously, reports have come to highlight the forced conversion of Hindus in the Southern Sindh region. The Sarhandi Shrine is a famous spot for mass conversions.

An activist, part of the local human rights organization, revealed to Dawn, “At least 25 conversions of young Hindu girls and women take place every month in Umerkot’s Kunri and Samaro talukas alone.”

Other activists have exposed that the deprived region is a miserable location for scheduled castes who “are powerless” in front of everyone. Many cases are often not even reported to the media. While mainstream media of the country reports that only 13 Hindus in Samaro district were converted from 2015-2016, the locals of the area say the numbers are much higher.

Dawn reported the story of Shiv Dhan and Mani. Men armed with guns abducted their daughters, Samjoo and Sonari, in the midnight of 15th January 2016. One of the men who went on to marry Sonari was the son of a rich landlord. In this case, too, Sonari claimed she willingly married the person while her parents refute such claims. They still haven’t got their daughter back. The parents also sat for protest but nothing was achieved. Their younger daughter, Samjoo, is back with them but they have not seen or spoken to Sonari since her abduction.

The other case of a Hindu man marrying a Muslim girl is very few. But that did not turn out well for the couple. The Hindu man, hailing from Umerkot district, worked in Karachi where he met a Pakhtun girl. The man changed his religion to Islam and brought the girl to his native place where they married. When the family of the girl found out, they paid a visit to the guy’s family and abducted the women of his family. The story ended with the women returning to their respective homes. The police managed to find the women and rescue them, and the Pakkhtun girl was returned to her family.

Forced Conversion
In the Northern and Central Sindh, rich and upper-class Hindus reside, however, in agrarian Hindu communities reside in the Southern Sindh. Wikimedia

If we closely inspect the Sindh region, the demographic divide is a major factor to any socio-religious issue. The Northern Sindh and the Central Sindh is where most of the rich and upper-class Hindus reside. Here, they have intense protection from the police and politics.

But Southern Sindh is where most Hindus of the entire Pakistan reside. They are mostly employed in the agricultural sector. This is the region where education and employment are often lacking for the Hindu communities. The Hindu girls and women are constantly under threat from the Muslims.

Human rights activists and campaigners in the region have highlighted many incidents where old Muslim men promise a life of luxury and leisure for young Hindu women. Although convincing is not a crime, but when it is done to young and underage girls it becomes a heinous crime. Minors’ consent does not account for a legal marriage.

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Patron in Chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council Dr. Ramesh Vankwani spoke to Dawn, “There is not even one case in which anyone has willingly converted. These men, who are often already married, kidnap the girls, keep them in their custody for 15 days, rape them, and through threats and intimidation, make the girls say they converted willingly”

These girls, once targetted, have little to no chance of escaping the situation. If she rejects the offer, she is at risk along with all her family members. Giving in to the offer means a forever goodbye to the family.

It has been strange that in a place where once two religions coexisted peacefully, such cases are on the rise. Dawn has remarkably identified the rising fundamentalism as a critical reason. Rising fundamentalism is leading to such rising cases.

Religious conversion is considered an important feature of religious fundamentalism. Mohammad Yaqoob, who is the head of Wafaqul Madaris Al-Arabia in Umerkot and Tharparkar districts, is also a head of the Madrassah that is trying to establish New Islamabad. He stated that families who come for the conversion are often given what they asked. Yaqoob also refused to speak against Pir Ayub Jan Sarhandi. He also estimated that in the last 15 years, more than 9,000 conversions were carried out in the Madrassah.

ALSO READ: Pakistan Needs to End Sindhi Exploitation: Resolution by World Sindhi Congress

Lastly, few Hindus actually choose conversion. But it is not because of their allegiance to Shariah or Islam, it is their survival strategy. Poor Hindus, when converting to Islam, become beneficiaries of the Madrassah’s welfare and charity.

The rise of fundamentalism in the region has become increasingly evident. While the government ‘lacks money’ for education and infrastructure, the establishment of new Madrassahs has been easily funded.

The solution to the problem is not that simple either. Hindus can be at under immense threat of a social conflict breaks out. But forced conversions, a major violation of the human right, deserves focus from international human rights groups.

– by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394