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In defence of Islamists and Khalistanis: How US State Dept’s Human Rights report on India whitewashed Umar Khalid, Kappan, Nijjar and others

The Human Rights Practices report described Umar Khalid, one of the prime accused in anti-Hindu Delhi riots, as a "student and human rights activist". The report is replete with incomplete information, for instance, it talks of delayed bail to Khalid but fails to mention that seven out of fourteen adjournments in the SC were sought by Khalid's counsel.

On 22nd April, the United States State Department released Country Reports on Human Rights Practices including India. The summary of the report talked about the violence in Manipur between 3rd May and 15th November. However, the detailed report has several aspects that need to be discussed specifically where the US State Department conveniently supported the likes of Umar Khalid, Atiq Ahmed, Siddique Kappan and others without devaluing into details why they were jailed.

The arrest of Umar Khalid

The Human Rights Practices report described Umar Khalid as a “student and human rights activist”. As the report was written before Khalid withdrew his bail plea from the Supreme Court, the last update in the report mentioned that his bail was adjourned till January 2024. The report claimed, “His bail hearing was repeatedly delayed since his arrest in 2020 under the UAPA. International and local activists demanded Khalid’s release, noting he had been arbitrarily detained without trial since 2020.” The report, however, failed to mention that seven out of fourteen adjournments in the Supreme Court were sought by Khalid’s counsel. Furthermore, as he has withdrawn his plea from the Supreme Court, the matter was listed at the Sessions Court and the matter is subjudice. Also, as the bail plea is under consideration, the trial in the matters he was booked is getting delayed.

Coming to Umar Khalid’s history, it has to be noted that he is the son of a former banned terrorist organisation SIMI, which his counsel forgot to tell the court. Furthermore, Khalid was booked in the larger conspiracy leading to the anti-Hindu Delhi Riots of 2020. During the bail hearing, the Public Prosecutor categorically told the court that Khalid has a habit of creating narratives in media and online. The prosecutor presented evidence as WhatsApp chats with several celebrities, media houses and activists where Khalid sent them links to share on social media and they obliged.

Furthermore, the prosecutor pointed out that while Khalid is in jail, several media houses and activists are running campaigns to set a narrative in his favour in media and on social media to affect the judicial proceedings. Interestingly, the US State Department has done the same thing amid his ongoing bail plea.

Accusations against George Soros presented as ‘antisemitism’

In a bizarre move, the report represented accusations against George Soros as ‘antisemitism’. It is a known fact that billionaire George Soros is anti-India and funds media houses, NGOs and other organisations to target Indians, BJP and Hindu leaders. 

The Human Rights Practices report read, “Government officials made public statements and released social media posts alleging certain opposition political party figures and diaspora leaders were connected to George Soros, playing on an antisemitic conspiracy theory of an “all-controlling Jewish individual” who was influencing events in the country. On October 6, the BJP’s official X account posted an edited image depicting Rahul Gandhi being controlled by Soros.” 

This statement in the report is not only factually incorrect but shows how less the US knows about India and its internal affairs. Or the case may be the opposite and the US is trying to create differences between the Jewish community and India. Soros is no one’s friend, especially since he is NOT India’s friend. He has to be treated as a threat to the country without referring to his religion. On the other hand, India has always supported the Jewish community. India stood tall with Israel after the horrific terror attack by Hamas on 7th October. Just because India, Indians and Indian leaders talked about India’s interests and raised questions over George Soros’s intentions against India, that does not mean there is antisemitism in the country.

The murder of Atiq Ahmed

The Human Rights Practices report described Atiq Ahmed as a “convicted prisoner and former parliamentarian from the Samajwadi Party accused of being a mobster”. Atiq Ahmed was not just a mobster. He was a former gangster with 102 cases filed against him including those of threats, murder attempts and kidnapping. The gangster act was brought against him a total of three times. Even while incarcerated in different jails in Uttar Pradesh, he held meetings and ran his criminal empire. The initial complaint was filed against him in 1979. Not only Ahmed, his brother Ashraf, who was mentioned in the report, had 52 cases including planning the conspiracy leading to the murder of Umesh Pal and the murder of Raju Pal.

Arrest of Siddique Kappan and Atikur Rahman

The report described Siddique Kappan as a “Kerala-based journalist” It talked about how he was detained while going to Hathras, Uttar Pradesh to cover the alleged gang rape of a Dalit woman in 2020. “Kappan and Rahman, both Muslims, were arrested and charged with sedition and provisions under the UAPA for allegedly promoting religious enmity between different groups,” the report read.

Siddique Kappan was arrested by the UP Police on October 5, 2020, when he was proceeding to ‘cover’ the Hathras case where a 19-year-old Dalit woman had died. He was arrested along with three other persons, under stringent sections of UAPA and sedition charges for attempting to create a caste conflict in the state amidst the Hathras case controversy.

Apart from Kappan, Siddiqui of Nagla in Muzaffarnagar, Masood Ahmed of Jarwal in Bahraich district, and Alam of Kotwali area in Rampur district were arrested. All the four arrested four had connections with the radical organization Popular Front of India (PFI) and were planning to cause caste-based unrest in the state, the police had stated.

The government in the Supreme Court had stated that Siddique Kappan was an office-bearer of the now-banned Islamist organization Popular Front of India(PFI) and was on his way to Hathras pretending to be a newspaper journalist from a Kerala-based outlet called ‘Tejas’ that was closed in 2018.

Nowhere does the Human Rights Practices report mention how Kappan was connected to a banned terrorist organisation. Furthermore, it completely ignored the fact that reportedly Kappan directed the PFI hit squad to kill BJP leader Kapil Mishra and Parvesh Verma for foiling PFI attempts during the 2020 Delhi anti-Hindu riots. According to a report published on March 19, 2024, by a local Malayalam media outlet Janmabhumi, Siddique Kappan, infuriated by the BJP leader’s efforts that thwarted PFI members’ attempts to target Hindus during the 2020 anti-Hindu riots in Delhi, reportedly ordered the now arrested Popular Front of India (PFI) Hit Squad Commander Kamal KP, a native of Malappuram, to kill Kapil Mishra and Parvesh Verma. The order was given during a meeting held at the banned outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) controlled Green Valley Academy at Manjery in Kerala’s Malappuram district in September 2020. Detailed OpIndia’s report on the matter can be seen here

On 22nd April, the United States State Department released Country Reports on Human Rights Practices including India. The summary of the report talked about the violence in Manipur between 3rd May and 15th November. However, the detailed report has several aspects that need to be discussed specifically where the US State Department conveniently supported the likes of Umar Khalid, Atiq Ahmed, Siddique Kappan and others without devaluing into details why they were jailed.

Murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar

The Human Rights Practices report uses Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s murder to propagate that the Indian Government engaged in transnational repression. It read, “On September 18, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his government was investigating allegations of a link between Indian government agents and the killing of a Sikh Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, whom the Indian government alleged and designated as a terrorist, and who advocated for the creation of an independent Sikh state called Khalistan. The Indian government denied any involvement.”

It is essential to note that while Trudeau accused India of killing Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the country failed to produce any credible evidence of the same. Furthermore, Canada is a known safe haven for terrorists, Nazis, gangsters and criminals. Canada honoured a war criminal in its House of Commons in the presence of the Prime Minister! Canadian government apologised and the speaker resigned after the backlash.

India has been seeking extradition of several criminals who took shelter in Canada but the Canadian authorities failed to provide any assistance. India even sought the extradition of Nijjar multiple times. Notably, Nijjar entered Canada on a fake passport disguised as a Hindu. His citizenship was denied multiple times but for some reason, it was granted a few years before he was killed probably in a gang war. India has categorically denied any involvement in any such actions on the foreign land. OpIndia’s detailed reports on Hardeep Singh Nijjar can be seen here.

Accounts of IAMC and HfHR withheld in India

The Human Rights Practices report further used the Government of India’s decision to block accounts of organisations like Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) and the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) on X as examples of transnational repression. The report did mention the reason for the association of HfHR with Soros but in a very questionable tone as if the Indian government “conspired” against these organisations as they were “working to advance human rights and religious freedom”.

OpIndia has detailed reports on both organisations and how they work against India. The Indian Americal Muslim Council has links [pdf] with the banned Islamic terror outfit, Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). Besides, the Indian American Muslim Council has ties with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) through its founder Shaik Ubaid. The IAMC is a Jamat-e-Islami-backed lobbyist organisation claiming to be a rights advocacy group. In the past, it had reportedly collaborated with and even paid money to various groups in the USA to get India blacklisted by the USCIRF (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom). IAMC had been caught spreading fake news and misinformation to further the Islamist cause in India. It had also been slapped with the UAPA in 2021.

OSINT handle ‘Disinfo Lab’ had earlier informed that the HfHR was actively promoting the misleading narrative of ‘Hindu Vs Hindutva’. The same organisation was also seen endorsing the ‘Dismantling Global Hindutva’ conference. As per Disinfo Lab, HfHR was formed in the year 2019 by Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) and the Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI).

Interestingly, the three organisations had formed another outfit called the Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA). As per an article in The Hindu, the Alliance for Justice and Accountability had been at the forefront of leading demonstrations against the visit of PM Modi to Houston on September 22, 2019. Sunita Vishwanath, the co-founder of ‘Hindus for Human Rights’ had also tried to create hysteria and panic among Indian Muslims about the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in 2019. She is also the co-founder of an organisation named ‘Women for Afghan Women’, which is funded by George Soros’ Open Society Foundations (OSF)/ Open Society Institute (OSI).

In July 2023, BJP leader and Union Minister Smriti Irani questioned Rahul Gandhi for his alleged connections to IAMC’s president Tazeem Ansari and said Ansari has connections with Jamaat-e-Islami. “Even in Bharat Jodo Yatra in Karnataka, the Global Vice President of the Open Society Foundation funded by George Soros was found accompanying Rahul Gandhi. What is extremely distressing is the link with the Islamic Circle of North America. Those in the public domain who will research how the registration process for NRI interaction with Rahul Gandhi in New York ensued will find the contact of Tazeem Ansari – he has an organisational link with Jamaat-e-Islami,” Irani said. 

Demolition of illegal houses in Nuh following anti-Hindu violence

The Human Rights Practices report mentioned that there were “communal clashes” between Hindus and Muslims in Haryana on 31st July and 1st August. After the “clashes” local authorities demolished houses in “a Muslim-majority district, claiming homes were used by perpetrators of communal violence and were built illegally on government land”. The demolition was stayed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

As the report talks about human rights, let’s discuss the Nuh violence. On 31st July, Hindus, under the banner of Vishva Hindu Parishad, were scheduled to take out a Shobha Yatra or procession in Nuh, Rajasthan. Islamists attacked Hindus in the temple, in the city and anywhere they could find a Hindu. Shops were burnt down, bullets were fired, stone pelting took place and several devotees and police personnel lost their lives or sustained serious injuries. Islamist mobsters not only attacked innocent, unarmed Hindus but also slit the throat of one of the devotees identified as Abhishek. US State Department’s report on Human Rights FORGOT that Hindus HAVE HUMAN RIGHTS too. Our detailed coverage of Nuh violence can be checked here.

The World Press Freedom Index report by Reporters Without Borders

The Human Rights Practices report also mentioned the World Press Freedom Index 2023 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) to state that “press freedom is in crisis in the world’s largest democracy.” Interestingly, in May 2023, OpIndia explained how the Press Freedom rating of India at 161 out of 187 was faulty. RSF released its annual Press Freedom Report, in which it put India at 161st position out of 180 countries. As per RSF, India slipped 11 ranks in 2022. Interestingly, according to RSF, Pakistan’s press freedom index has improved. From 157th rank in 2022, Pakistan has acquired the 150th position in the list. The same goes for Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, which got its rank improved from 156 to 152.

One of the most bizarre points RSF put in its report is about the money the government of India spends on advertisements. RSF claimed the central government is spending more than 130 billion rupees (Rs 13,000 crores) or 5 billion euros a year on ads in the print and online media alone.

OpIndia had filed an RTI seeking information on the ad spent by the central government on different platforms, including print, outdoor advertisements, social media, radio and television. As per the reply sent by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of the Government of India, the actual figures are nowhere close to what RSF has claimed.

According to the reply sent by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the central government spent only Rs 26.44 crore on television ads and only 1.33 crore on social media ads in the financial year 2022-23. Notably, ad spending has decreased significantly since the Modi government came to power in 2014. The maximum amount the government has spent on television ads was Rs 280.77 crores in FY 2016-17.

Throughout its report on India, RSF made several claims that were nowhere close to reality. RSF claimed Reliance Industries Group led by Mukesh Ambani owns more than 70 media outlets. They also pointed out good relations between Ambani and PM Modi. The claim does not stand strong as it is based on a 2019 statement by Mukesh Ambani where he had said Reliance Industries owned 72 television channels, which includes all genres of channels and not just news channels, with around 800 million viewers.

This includes News18 branded TV news platforms like CNN Worldwide, CNN-News18, CNBC-TV18, CNN-IBN, CNBC Awaaz and more. Other than news channels, it also includes an entertainment portfolio under Viacom18 Media which is the parent company of 50 channels. All these are entertainment channels and do not have any “media outlets” as mentioned by RSF. Reliance’s Jio platform is also a source of news for its subscribers but that is more of an aggregator rather than owner of the channels or media outlet.

RSF used data from different years to claim that 1/3 of COVID-19-related deaths of media personnel were from India. RSF linked a report of Dhaka Tribune from June 2021 that noted 1,500 media persons died of Covid worldwide. Dhaka Tribune used data from the Press Emblem Campaign.

RSF claimed the Indian government misbehaved and unlawfully arrested media persons who covered farmer protests. Interestingly, they mentioned the time when Twitter handles of media persons were suspended for sharing fake news about violence. They included the case of The Wire’s Siddharth Varadarajan was booked for reporting the death of a protester. Not to forget, even after repeated clarification from the Police and the doctor who did an autopsy of the deceased, Varadarajan continued to share fake reports about the death of the protester. It must be noted that The Wire was forced to remove multiple reports related to Tek Fog and Meta as they were based on false evidence. This report of RSF was published in 2021 and appeared in the 2023 ranking.

They also mentioned the arrest of so-called journalist Siddique Kappan who was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police for allegedly plans to instigate the public during the Hathras case in 2020. Details revolving around Kappan can be read here. RSF also linked a report where it extended its support to propaganda journalist Rana Ayyub. Notably, Ayyub is known for making false claims on international platforms. She is accused of financial fraud. The case against her is sub-judice. Recently, she downplayed gangster Atiq Ahmed’s crimes at a UNESCO event.

The raids on BBC

The Human Rights Practices report also mentioned the Income Tax Department’s raid on BBC. The report claimed it took place after the screening of a controversial documentary falsely accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of having a role in the 2002 Gujarat Riots when he was Chief Minister of the state. Notably, the Supreme Court has already given a clean chit to PM Modi in the matter. Despite the court orders giving a clean chit to PM Modi, BBC went ahead and released the documentary and then claimed suppression of media after the Government acted to ban the documentary in India. 

In short, the Human Rights Practices report by the US State Department is no less than a witchhunt against India. Several cases were mentioned without context and represented as if India was losing its status as a democratic country.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

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