1st letter 12-27-19

Protesters display placards during a demonstration against the Indian government's Citizenship Amendment Bill in New Delhi on Dec. 14. Indian American and South Asian students have organized similar protests. (Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images)

The following Open Letter is from Ivy League universities to the Congress of the United States, condemning the Modi government’s treatment of Indian Muslims and expressing solidarity with the civil disobedience protests in India. This is the first student led campaign asking the U.S. Congress to sanction India due to CAA.

The letter has been signed unanimously by the South Asian student associations of almost every major Ivy League University (including Yale, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, and Brown), and is currently being deliberated by the student board of associations at Stanford, Columbia, and Dartmouth. It demands that “the American House of Representatives 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,” and for Congress to condemn the Modi government. It has been sent to representatives in the House.

The South Asian organizations at these universities have also pledged to join a protest against Hindu nationalism this coming Holi, called #HoliAgainstHindtuva.

I am the primary author of the letter. The South Asian students at these universities hope to express our solidarity with the brave protests in India, and pressure the Indian government to withdraw CAA.

Shreeya Singh 

Junior at Yale University

Via E-mail

The Open Letter follows:

“To the Congress of the United States of America,

“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.

“Ever since Narendra Modi was elected prime minister in 2014, he and the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) 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 dehumanizing 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 and German nazism since its founding in 1925.

“The Citizenship Amendment Bill is just the latest of India’s many steps to marginalize 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), 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.

“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.

“We believe 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.”

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