HSS condemns US conference on Hindutva; says such events amplify Hinduphobia

Washington: Condemning an upcoming conference in the US on the concept of Hindutva, the American chapter of a prominent Hindu organisation has said that such events amplify Hinduphobia, encourage Hindu hate, and incite violence against the community in the West and urged the co-sponsors to withdraw their institutional support to such programmes and stop targeting the minorities.

The Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) USA, in a statement on Wednesday, said the so-called conference, titled “Dismantling Global Hindutva”, is organised by Indian political activists, including many Communist party members, and is supported by a few individuals and departments in some American academic institutions.

It not only lacks speakers who are academically qualified to speak on Hindutva, but also excludes those who can provide alternate points of view on the subject. The fact that several universities have publicly disowned their support of the event, and the organisers have been compelled to remove all the university logos from their website shows the deceit used to publicise the event, the organisation said in a rare statement.

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“HSS-USA expresses deep concern about the upcoming online event titled Dismantling Global Hindutva . We strongly condemn such events that amplify Hinduphobia, encourage Hindu hate, & incite violence against the minority Hindu population in the West,” it said.

The three-day event from September 10-12 has sparked a backlash from the Hindu community in the US. Members of the Hindu Community from across the world have expressed their dismay at this call of violence against Hindu community by the conference organisers.

The conference organisers, who have requested that they remain anonymous, in a statement said that they were going ahead with the conference.

HSS said that the minority Hindu community in the United States has contributed toward national progress, while harmoniously assimilating American values.

Our community has faced attacks on our people, businesses and places of worship many times in the past. The 2018 FBI report shows an increasing trend in the attacks motivated by religious hatred on Hindus in America, it said.

The organisation said that it welcomes any academic effort to understand Hindutva where the topic is discussed, analysed, debated, examined and adds to the knowledge of the subject.

It said that the title of the conference itself calls for violent action, and the imagery suggests uprooting Hindus.

The power of the platform provided by alleged university sponsorships is considerable, and abusing such a platform with a call to violence is likely to harm the Hindu students on the campuses. We urge universities to withdraw their institutional support to such events, stop targeting minority communities, and avoid irreversible harm to their own academic reputation, the HSS said.

In recent weeks, more than 1.5 million emails have reached the university administrators. Various community organisations such as HAF (Hindu American Foundation), CoHNA (Coalition of Hindu’s in North America), VHPA (Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America), HSS and others reached out to the community to take part in this campaign.

Cutting across party lines, several politicians of Hindu origin like Padma K, Rishi Kumar and Niraj Antani also released statements in support of the Hindu community and asking the universities to desist from sponsoring such a hateful conference.

It is time for Hindus worldwide to recognise this event for what it is — a brazen attempt to demean and vilify their culture and tradition, and for the universities to walk away before the damage is done, said Suhag Shukla, executive director HAF.

The conference, the organisers said, has received support from prominent academics and intellectuals, including Judith Butler, Angela Davis, Cornel West, Amitav Ghosh, Partha Chatterjee, Arjun Appadurai, Sheldon Pollock and Arundhati Roy.

Thus far, over 900 academics and intellectuals have declared their support for the conference. It has also received letters of support from over 40 community organisations in the global diaspora, as well as letters of support from scholars of genocide, mass violence, and human rights, it said.

The organisers of the Dismantling Global Hindutva conference are proud to announce that in spite of a massive campaign of disinformation and wild allegations, the support for this timely and important conference on Hindutva ideology has only grown, the organisers said in a press statement.

Those attacking the conference have claimed that it is anti-Hindu, even though conference organisers have made clear that Hindutva and Hinduism are different things, with Hindutva being a hundred-year-old political ideology inspired by German and Italian fascism, and Hinduism being a pluralistic, diverse, and ancient faith, a conference spokesperson said in the statement.

According to the organisers, the Dismantling Global Hindutva conference features 70 co-sponsoring entities from 52 universities.

More universities are due to join shortly. University administrations have stood by the co-sponsoring units and by the principle of academic freedom. The conference organisers have released the full list of cosponsors on their website, it said.

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