The festival of colour shall soon be upon us. On Tuesday, Hindus all over the world will celebrate the festival of Holi with their friends and family. However, on the 5th of March, some students in the United States of America celebrated a Holi of their own. They called it ‘A Holi Against Hindutva’. The event was organized by a group called ‘Students Against Hindutva’ (SAH) and the event was held across several universities in the country.
Given the nature of the protests, we decided to investigate the background of the organization. We came across a profile of the organization on the delusional far-left propaganda outlet Teen Vogue. From there on, we discovered the website of the organization.
The website itself is a little short on information about the central core of the organization, to put it mildly. The website does not mention the executive board members of the SAH, however, it does ask for donations. But there was enough material in there for us to proceed further.
On the website, we discovered an open letter to the Congress of the United States of America. It is important to mention here that the Congress is currently controlled by the Democrats, numerous members of which have made baseless remarks against the internal matters of India.
The letter, of course, has numerous lies and factual inaccuracies about the nature of Hindutva, the then Citizenship Amendment Bill and the National Register of Citizens. The letter was written by Yale South Asian Society Political Chair, Shreeya Singh and edited by Yale Muslim Student Association Member, Ziad Ahmed, and Princeton University Student, Kamya Yadav. It was also signed by the student associations of numerous universities. We will now attempt to puncture their lies here.
Ziad Ahmed, mentioned as an editor of the letter, is a well-known activist in his own right. We looked for his account on social media and quickly discovered his profile on Twitter. He tweets under the username ‘@ziadtheactivist’. He said about the event on social media, “We are uniting for #AHoliAgainstHindutva because we stand together in opposing Modi’s fascist agenda that is systematically creating laws, empowering violence, and championing rhetoric to marginalize Muslims/minorities. Our love is louder than their hate.”
Given the wording of his tweet, we assume that he was an integral member of the initiative. On digging further, we discovered that by his own admission, he was part of the collective that launched the ‘Holi Against Hindutva’ program.
On his social media account, the link to his personal website was mentioned. Thus, we took a detour and explored it. We shall elaborate on what we learned about Ziad Ahmed later on but before all of that, we need to understand the political context first.
The Political Context
Prime Minister Modi addressed an audience of Indian-Americans in Houston, Texas at the Howdy Modi event. That was interpreted by certain quarters as Narendra Modi’s endorsement of Donald Trump for the presidential elections this year and a part of the US President’s outreach towards the Indian-American community for his reelection bid.
Under such circumstances, it appears natural that Democrats would seek to tarnish Narendra Modi’s image in the USA due to a misguided sense of revenge and malice. Furthermore, it is known that Hillary Clinton bears animosity towards the Indian Prime Minister. Therefore, it appears natural that she saw the Howdy Modi event as Narendra Modi’s revenge for her antics when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
Moreover, the Democrats have been vocal about their opposition towards the abrogation of Article 370, the CAA and NRC. Bernie Sanders, a presidential aspirant, has been vocal against it. Elizabeth Warren, who has now suspended her presidential campaign, too promised to ‘fight’ for the ‘freedom of Kashmir’ before Super Tuesday. Apart from them, prominent US Congresswomen such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar have criticized India on these issues as well. Therefore, it is not farfetched to assume that Democrat politicians might have been motivated enough to initiate a campaign across universities to demonize Narendra Modi in the USA.
Ahmed’s website describes him as a “20-year-old junior at Yale University. He is an unapologetic American-Muslim-Bangladeshi student activist, entrepreneur, and speaker.” Ahmed, here, has previously worked for the US Department of State, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Campaign, Martin O’Malley’s 2016 Campaign, and Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman. The politicians mentioned here are Democrats who have been vocal in their criticism against the abrogation of Article 370, the CAA and the NRC. And this should ring the alarm bells. However, there are far more disturbing aspects of Ahmed’s professional life.
Ahmed is the CEO/co-founder of JUV Consulting, “a Generation Z consultancy that works with clients to help them reach young people”. In simple words, it is a marketing agency. JUV’s website describes itself as a “Gen Z marketing agency working with clients to more authentically and powerfully engage young audiences”. And this is not the end of it. Ahmed has also founded a non-profit ‘redefy’ in 2013 that is “committed to furthering equality”. ‘redefy’ also engages in journalism. This is the person who played a crucial in launching the ‘Holi Against Hindutva’ initiative.
Imagine the conflict of interest for a moment. A person that has a history of working for left-oriented political campaigns founded a non-profit that engages in journalism, is a CEO of a marketing agency that is designed for clients to specifically target young audiences launched an initiative the primary objective of which is to turn American opinion against India, a country that the US administration under Donald Trump is trying to ally closely with. Needless to say, Donald Trump is the arch-nemesis of the political faction Ahmed is associated with.
Therefore, some questions need to be asked here given that it has been observed that the best way to market a political opinion to the youth is cloaking it under the mask of noble and righteous activism. In what capacity is Ziad serving the ‘Holi Against Hindutva’ initiative, as an activist or as the CEO of a marketing agency specifically designed to manufacture propaganda to brainwash the youth? Did Ziad launch the initiative at the behest of prominent Democrats whose public position against the CAA and NRC are well known? Was Ziad employed by the Democrats to launch a campaign against India across the universities in the United States?
These are questions that must be answered. However, one thing is certain. We cannot rule out the possibility that Ziad Ahmed’s marketing skills were employed by political institutions in order to tarnish India’s reputation in the country due to the prevailing political climate in the USA.
The Dark Side of ‘Students Against Hindutva’
Through the Teen Vogue profile on the SAH, penned by Shreeya Singh, the same individual who authored the letter to the US Congress, we discovered some startling details about the organization and how deeply it is linked to the Democrat Party in the USA. Shreeya wrote, “Thanks to the leadership of progressive giants in the South Asian diasporic community, such as South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) and Stand With Kashmir, along with the energy of a new generation of South Asian Americans, we are building a determined diasporic solidarity network.”
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
Before we remind our readers of the ideological antecedents of Stand With Kashmir, an organization we have reported on before, we shall delve into the background of the SAALT. The Board of Directors of SAALT is composed of members who have worked closely with institutions associated with the politics of the Left. Pakistan born Amina Khan has “served as a Senior Policy Advisor at the U.S. Department of Energy under President Clinton’s Administration.” President Clinton here is Bill Clinton, the husband of Hillary Clinton, whose approach towards India was not very friendly. Amina has also been “involved with efforts as an attorney and activist through her work with the Buxton Initiative, the Pakistan American Public Affairs Committee, and the USPAK Foundation.”
Shruti Garg, another member of the Board, has “worked for major philanthropic institutions including the Ford Foundation and the Open Society Foundations (OSF).” Darakshan Raja, a Pakistani Muslim immigrant woman, who currently serves as the Founder/Co-Director of Justice For Muslims Collective, a Muslim-led space organizing against Islamophobia, is another member. Sasha Neha Ahuja has worked with Melissa Mark-Viverito, a Democratic politician.
Recently, failed US Presidential aspirant Kamala Harris, whose campaign was destroyed by Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard in a couple of minutes, was an honorary co-host for a congressional briefing on immigration detention hosted by SAALT. Thus, the political inclinations of the SAALT are pretty clear.
Stand With Kashmir
Stand With Kashmir (SWK) is a “Kashmiri diaspora-driven independent global citizen grassroots group committed to standing in solidarity with the people of Kashmir in ending the occupation and supporting their right to self-determination.” Calling India’s military presence in Kashmir an ‘occupation’ reveals amply the ideological orientation of the network. The organization believes “any proposed resolutions must foreground Kashmiri aspirations. We condemn the use of Islamophobia to undermine Kashmiri aspirations for freedom.”
In the ‘Origins of Conflict‘ segment of its website, it traces the roots of the Jihad in Kashmir to 1931, a decade after the Khilafat Movement that led to the creation of Pakistan, but never calls it as such. Instead, SWK paints it as ‘secular’. Furthermore, not once does it mention the genocide of Kashmiri Pandits. Not once during the segment does SWK blame Pakistan for the roots of the mess. In the subsection on the plebiscite, the organization puts the entire blame on India for the fact that it has never occurred and conveniently ignored that plebiscite never occurred because Pakistan invaded Kashmir right after independence and since then, has refused to vacate the territories it occupied, in contravention of the UN norms.
As we have said in our earlier report on the organization after Bollywood actor Farhan Akhtar shared a work of propaganda manufactured by them, SWK’s intentions are not pure. The SWK, which may well be backed by Pakistan, manufactured Kashmiri separatist on a highly sensitive issue at a time when sinister designs are afoot across the country. It is important to note that Farhan Akhtar shared the work of propaganda on the 18th of December, precisely a week after Ziad Ahmed announced the launch of ‘Holi Against Hindutva’. At this point, we are forced to ask Ziad Ahmed, were his marketing services hired by any Pakistani backed institution or individual?
The Politics of Students Against Hindutva
By now, it ought to be clear that SAH is entirely a far-left initiative. To be frank, it is clear on the face of it as well. In case it wasn’t obvious yet, Shreeya Singh concluded the SAH profile for Teen Vogue with the words, “Inquilab Zindabad. Long live the revolution.” Also, the feature image of the ‘Open Letter’ page its website is the one that was used to propagandize the Jamia Milia Islamia protests against the CAA as some sort of humanitarian project. In reality, the woman in the picture, Ladeeda Sakhaloon gave a call for Jihad on the 11th of December, only days before violence erupted in Delhi.
SAH says on the ‘Resources‘ section of its website, “Our aim is to amplify the voices, actions, and protests of communities in India, particularly Muslim, Dalit, Adivasi, femme ones.” Let us again reiterate, Ziad Ahmed, an individual who is a CEO at a marketing agency he co-founded and a history of working with high-profile Democrat politicians, has launched an organization the aim of which is to amplify unrest in India. Nobody could accuse us of being suspicious about the actual motives of the ‘Holi Against Hindutva’ initiative without good reason. Furthermore, the SAH appears to be enamored with an organization such as the SWK which clearly is inimical to Indian interests.
Under the resources section, it has compiled ‘information’ against the CAA from far-left sources, the ‘organizers and collectives’ that are inciting protests across India, petitions and open letters and leftist opinion pieces and places where people can donate to support the students of Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Milia Islamia.
Even more troubling is the fact that SAH has compiled a list of protests across India against the CAA. The list even includes ‘CAA Protest Helper’ which is apparently a ‘Legal Services Clinic’ where people could find legal help if they ran into any trouble during any protests against the CAA.
In addition to that, a ‘protest schedule’ and a running list of protests in the USA, UK, Germany, South Africa, Japan, Canada and other countries have also been provided. For an organization that is not even based in India, it is certainly an inordinate amount of attention it has dedicated towards the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in India.
If all this weren’t enough, Students Against Hindutva admits on its home page that it will be lobbying with the financial donations it receives. It states, “Our growing inter-campus coalition plans to campaign through protesting, sharing informational material, holding on-campus teach-ins, lobbying, and coordinating other events to raise awareness. Any donations to our fundraiser would be greatly appreciated and will help us continue to organize in support of protestors on the front lines.”
SAH also states, “As Students Against Hindutva, we are grateful for the support and organizing of those standing in solidarity with the civil disobedience movement persisting across India. We are committed to amplifying the demands of marginalized communities and working towards increasing international pressure to tip the scales in the protesters’ favor.”
Let us make it clear, Students Against Hindutva is a lobbying group. And we can safely speculate that ‘Holi Against Hindutva’ is a propaganda initiative organized to aid in the group’s lobbying efforts. We can also safely speculate that Ziad Ahmed was hired on the basis of his skills in the marketing field. We can only wonder, however, if the services of the lobbying group, which is closely linked to the Democrat Party, was hired by any Pakistani institution or individual given that we know that the SAH idolizes Stand With Kashmir.
What is the ultimate objective of the lobbying? Even that has been made quite clear by Shreeya Singh in the SAH profile published on Teen Vogue. She wrote, “The more of us that speak, the harder it is to call us out one by one and the easier it is to dismantle the Hindutva project.” Thus, the SAH’s goal is not to merely ensure that the CAA and NRC is repealed. Its ultimate objective is to ensure the destruction of Hindutva.
Attempts to fuel unrest in India?
From the conduct of the SAH, it is pretty clear that the organization is working towards undermining Indian interests. In addition to supporting the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in India, it also seeks to lobby against Indian national interests, presumably in the USA. But we must also remember that SAH is not the only foreign organization that is working to undermine Indian national interests.
Only yesterday, we had reported that Harsh Mander is a member of an organization that is backed by the Italian Foreign Ministry and works closely with the Italian Secret Service. He is also the Chairman of the OSF’s Human Rights Initiative Advisory Board. Harsh Mander and his NGO Karwan-e-Mohabbat have been very active at the anti-CAA Shaheen Bagh protests. Considering everything that we do know now, it appears that a sinister attempt is underway to foment unrest and civil discord in our country.