Hyderabad: The US-based Small Business Administration (SBA) has been called out to probe how Hindu supremacist organizations in America received hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal Covid-19 relief funding. The demand has been made by the Coalition to Stop Genocide in India (CSGI) on Tuesday.
The broad coalition says that the expose published by Al-Jazeera shows a lack of proper safeguards resulted in the diversion of COVID-19 relief to fund hate and bigotry in the US and India. CGI, reacting to the report published by Al Jazeera, revealed that five American organizations with ties to Hindutva and Hindu supremacist groups have received COVID-19 relief funding amounting to $833,000.
The report pointed out that Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America(VHPA), Ekal Vidyala Foundation, Infinity Foundation, Sewa International, and Hindu American Foundation are in fact US-based front organizations for Hindutva (the supremacist ideology that is the driving force behind much of the persecution of Christians, Muslims, Dalits and other minorities in India).
According to the report, the SBA gave the funds as part of its Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance (EIDLA), Disaster Assistance Loan (DAL), and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The three programs leveraged by right-wing Hindutva organizations in the US were all intended to provide relief to struggling businesses and prevent workforce layoffs during the Covid 19 crisis.
Executive director of Indian American Muslims council (IAMC) Mr. Rasheed Ahmed said that US taxpayer’s money being used to keep hate groups in business is absolutely unacceptable and should concern all who believe in fairness, justice, and government accountability. He further added, “There are families across America still reeling from the human and economic toll of COVID-19, while groups that seem to be essentially serving as front organizations for a violent and supremacist ideology is raking in the windfall from federal Covid funding.”
After current US President Joe Biden won the elections, defeating Donald Trump, two Indian Americans who worked for the Democratic campaign for the US elections were not appointed by the Biden Administration allegedly due to links with extremist groups in India, according to a report by the Tribune.
According to the report, 20 Indian-Americans have been appointed so far to the Biden administration but two members of the Democratic Party have been excluded, namely Sonal Shah, a staffer in the Obama administration and Amit Jani, a member of the Biden campaign team.
Media reports suggest that the exclusion is due to a letter sent by 19 Indian American organizations to the US President in December 2020. According to an article by The Wire, the letter said “Many South Asian American individual with ties to far-right Hindu organizations in India are affiliated with the Democratic party” and that the Biden administration should have ‘no tolerance’ for such persons.
The letter specifically mentioned Shah and Jani stating them as individuals who “received funding from or made public statements in support of Hindu supremacist groups.”