“We will continue to lobby the US Congress and government against India’s treatment of Muslims”
In a forceful and impassioned interview, where her anger and anguish are clearly visible, the executive director of Hindus for Human Rights, a US-based civil society organization, said her organization will “definitely step up and step up” its efforts to pressure the United States. Congress and the Biden administration are speaking out against Hindutva and India’s treatment of minorities and Muslims in particular.
Sunita Viswanath says the Modi government represents “a fascist India” and added that it is important for Hindus to fight Hindutva. “The majority community needs to wake up,” she said. “The fact that Hindus are silent is alarming and dangerous…if Hindus do not participate, it is impossible to fight Hindutva.”
In a 30-minute interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire, Sunita Viswanath explained why her organization played a leading role, along with 16 other civil society organizations in the United States, in lobbying Congress. American against the treatment of Muslims and minorities in India on the 12th and 26th of January. She said she did so because “the world must understand that something is wrong in India…India is on a very dangerous path.”
Speaking further about the two congressional briefings on India’s treatment of Muslims that she organized, she said, “We are American citizens. We have the power to influence and inspire US lawmakers and the Biden administration to speak out. She added “it didn’t happen enough”.
Sunita Viswanath strongly rejected claims by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi that the event organizers were biased against India. She said, “India is talking about partiality? I would say that the allegations of bias are themselves biased. She said her organization had a moral duty “to raise awareness of the deterioration of democracy and human rights in India”. She added: “We are worried because we love India deeply.”
She also said she was speaking in defense of true Hinduism, a religion she loves, which would not tolerate or accept otherness from Muslims.
Sunita Viswanath specifically attacked and criticized MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi for giving the impression that the Congress briefings were only organized by the Indian American Muslim Council and for deliberately ignoring the fact that 16 other organizations were involved. His, Hindus for Human Rights, played a key role. She strongly rejected claims that ADRIC is biased and anti-Indian. She said of them: “They are our close partners. We trust them. We have a close partnership. They are not anti-Indian.
Sunita Viswanath clarified that former Vice President Hamid Ansari’s invitation to speak at the US Congressional briefing came from her organization, Hindus for Human Rights: “I personally phoned Hamid Ansari”, she said. “Our video crew went to his house to do the recording.” She said he is “an aged statesman” adding “he is grace and dignity personified”.
Sunita Viswanath strongly rejected the insinuations made by Arindam Bagchi that Mr Ansari was speaking biased against India. She said he spoke in a truthful and balanced way.
Speaking about the treatment of Muslims, Sunita Viswanath said, “Muslims in India are existentially threatened.”
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