The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) hired the American lobbying firm, Fidelis Government Relations, to push a resolution critical of India, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) revealed today. The Foundation previously released a statement censuring House Resolution 417 for attacking India’s record on religious freedom, targeting only Hindus as instigators of violence, and ignoring the impact of Islamist and Maoist terrorism in the country.
The lobbying firm was retained by IAMC just days before the resolution was introduced. H. Res 417 provocatively calls for the creation of separate extra-judicial religious minority courts to conduct trials and hear appeals. That suggestion was seen to directly challenge the credibility of India’s secular judiciary. It also calls for a continued U.S. boycott of India’s leading prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, and cites the disgraced tabloid Tehelka among its evidence.
“If not unprecedented, it is certainly disappointing to see Indian Americans hiring an American lobbying firm to advocate for a deeply flawed and insulting American resolution critical of India, its laws and its elected representatives,” said Jay Kansara, Associate Director for Government Relations at HAF. ”India, like the United States, is a pluralistic democracy with a mature judiciary, that while imperfect in many ways, hardly needs lecturing or interference from certain members of the United States Congress.”
Kansara noted that the resolution ignores the fact that 80% of attacks in India since 2012 alone were carried out by the Indian Mujahideen (a U.S. State Department designated Foreign Terrorist Organization), with much of the remaining 20% carried out by Maoist terrorists. There is no mention, for example, of the recent attacks implicating the Indian Mujahideen on Bodh Gaya, one of Buddhism’s most revered shrines in India, or in Chhattisgarh allegedly carried out by Naxalites of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) earlier this year.
Opposition to the resolution was also swift. Over 130 Indian and Hindu organizations from the U.S. and across the globe, including the Hindu Society of Minnesota, from Ellison’s home state, signed onto a coalition letter elaborating as to why the resolution was problematic and needed to be opposed.
It was after HAF staffers visited offices on Capitol Hill to educate lawmakers on the pitfalls of H. Res. 417, that they were informed of the intensive efforts of Fidelis, IAMC, and a group calling itself the Coalition Against Genocide (CAG) urging members of Congress to support the resolution. ”Capitol Hill staffers were shocked to learn that CAG is led by radical activists promoting hateful ideologies, and is primarily made up of non-existent entities,” Kansara said.
“Our own internal research shows that while CAG’s website lists 49 coalition organizations — including IAMC, 28 are not legally incorporated and 9 seem to be governed by only one individual as listed on their respective websites,” said Suhag Shukla, HAF’s Executive Director. “Exposing the openly Islamist or Marxist sympathies of CAG’s leaders, as well as their rabidly anti-American, anti-Israel, and anti-Hindu sentiments, helps complete a different picture from what this lobbyist and group members likely presented to our nation’s lawmakers.”
Kansara believes that HAF’s recent efforts have succeeded in limiting co-sponsors to the resolution, and is
confident it will not be brought to the entire House for a vote. As a symbolic measure, however, such resolutions do bear watching as they seem to influence the annual reports of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom that notoriously insists on keeping India on its Watch List, Shukla added.
“Hiring of a lobbyist by the IAMC reveals the extent to which they will go to promote their own narrow political agenda during India’s election season, while giving us an opportunity to let our legislators know that thousands of Hindu and Indian Americans are bitterly disgusted by such meddling,” added Kansara. ”While the resolution is an obvious non-starter, lawmakers need to be aware of the intentions guiding such initiatives and the false narratives they foster in Washington.”