On the 26th of January, former Vice President Hamid Ansari made contentious remarks on a virtual program hosted by several American organizations. He said that intolerance in the country is on the rise.
He made the comments in an online event titled ‘Protecting India’s Pluralist Constitution’, which was organised by The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC). The online event which was touted as a ‘Special Congressional Briefing’ also included Senator Ed Markey from Massachusetts, Rep. Jim McGovern, Rep. Andy Levin, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Former President of Mauritius and Nadine Maenza who chairs the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) among several others. Swara Bhasker was also one of the speakers.
The organiser of the event, The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), is alleged to be linked to the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI and behind a plot to foment riots in India. From the platform of this institution, Ansari took a shot at the Modi government. In India, he claims, efforts are underway to replace civic nationalism with cultural nationalism. According to Ansari, religious intolerance is encouraged in India by portraying the religious majority as a political monopoly.
“In recent years, we have experienced the emergence of trends and practices that dispute the well-established principle of civic nationalism and interpose a new and imaginary practice of cultural nationalism,” said Ansari.
“It seeks to present an electoral majority in the guise of a religious majority and monopolized political power. It wants to distinguish citizens on the basis of their faith, give vent to intolerance, insinuate otherness, and promote disquiet and insecurity,” he added. “Some of its recent manifestations are chilling and reflect poorly on our claim to be governed by rule of law. It’s a question that has to be answered. These trends need to be contested and contested legally and contested politically,” Ansari further said.
Along with Hamid Ansari, four US lawmakers and the Archbishop of Bangalore also expressed views on India’s current human rights situation.
Senator Ed Markey alleged that as the Indian government continues to target the practices of minority faiths, it creates an atmosphere where discrimination and violence can take root. “In recent years, we have seen an uptick in online hate speeches and acts of hate, including vandalised mosques, torched churches, and communal violence,” he said.
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the union minister for Minority Affairs, responded to Ansari’s comments by saying that the frenzy for Modi hate is evolving into a plot for India hatred. Such voices can be expected if one goes into India bashing while criticizing Modi, according to Naqvi.
‘The rush to bash Modi is turning into India bashing; they don’t miss an opportunity to malign the image of India; that’s why they are getting isolated’: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Hamid Ansari’s controversial remarks— Republic (@republic) January 27, 2022
Tune in for more details: https://t.co/aPPzyhl1dj pic.twitter.com/iyS8rcxT6C
The event organised by The Indian-American Muslim Council was co-hosted by 17 American groups in Washington, including Amnesty International US, Genocide Watch, Hindus for Human Rights, New York State Council of Churches and others.
In its brief to the Supreme Court, the Tripura government has blamed IAMC for the state’s communal riots. Not only that but this group is suspected of having ties to the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI. Aside from that, it has ties to a number of other terrorist organizations. The IAMC, on the other hand, has refuted these charges though.
IAMC has often taken stands against the governing Indian government in order to battle ‘civil rights and liberty concerns in India’ and to reassert the ‘rights of religious minorities.’ However, contrary to its assertion, the organization was seen lobbying against India in 2013 as well — a year before the current BJP government came to office in 2014.