• Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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Indian-American lawmakers demand action on rise in hate crimes against Hindus in US

Indian-American lawmakers have called on the US Department of Justice and the FBI for a briefing regarding a surge in hate crimes targeting Hindus.

Indian-American lawmakersThe five Indian-American lawmakers Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ro Khanna, Shri Thanedar, Pramila Jayapal, and Ami Bera wrote a letter to the US Department of Justice. (Photo credit: X/@RepBera)

By: Vivek Mishra

Five Indian-American lawmakers have called on the United States Department of Justice and the FBI for a briefing regarding a surge in “hate crimes targeting Hindus” and vandalism of temples across the country this year.

In a letter addressed to Kristen Clarke of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the lawmakers expressed concern about the attacks, noting that “Attacks at mandirs from New York to California have contributed to increased collective anxiety among Hindu Americans.”

There are five Indian-American lawmakers in the current House of Representatives, and all of them have come together on an issue on a rare occasion. The lawmakers are Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ro Khanna, Shri Thanedar, Pramila Jayapal, and Ami Bera.

They pointed out there have been a lack of leads on suspects and urged for federal oversight to ensure equal protection under the law. “Leaders from these impacted communities have expressed there are unfortunately ‘no leads’ on suspects, leaving many to continue to live in fear and intimidation. Our communities remain concerned about law enforcement coordination regarding these bias-motivated crimes, and they are left wondering if there is appropriate federal oversight to ensure equal protection under the law,” the letter stated.

Noting that they have observed an alarming increase in incidents of vandalism in houses of worship across the country, including at Hindu temples, the elected representatives requested a briefing on the status of investigations concerning these crimes to better understand existing law enforcement coordination between local agencies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Civil Rights Division.

“It takes relatively few coordinated acts of hate to create fear within a community that has often been marginalized or neglected, and we must work collaboratively to combat hate against all religious, ethnic, racial, and cultural minorities in America. We, therefore, request that you provide us with an understanding of what the Department’s strategy is specifically concerning hate crimes targeting Hindus in the United States,” the lawmakers wrote.

“The number of incidents and the closeness of the timing of incidents raise troubling questions about linkages and the intent behind them,” the letter read.

The lawmakers said that there is a need for collaboration to combat hate against all religious and ethnic minorities in America. They requested a briefing on the status of investigations concerning these crimes and urged for a response by April 18.

“Given the urgency of the situation, we ask that you provide us with a briefing no later than Thursday, April 18th,” they wrote in the letter dated March 29 which was released to the media on April 1.

Indian-American leaders have welcomed the move, acknowledging the urgency in addressing the spike in vandalism and thefts in temples across the country. “In Q1 2024, we witnessed a sudden spike in vandalism as well as thefts in temples in America… Against the backdrop of local officials often failing to investigate the cases to find the culprits, we thank the Indian-American House of Representatives for asking the FBI and DOJ to investigate,” said.

‘Hinduphobia on the rise in the US’

The US of late has seen a rise in Hinduphobia which needs to be fought, Indian-American Congressman Shri Thanedar said, as he joined a group of Hindu leaders and organisations seeking to fight this growing hate crime against the community. Representatives of various Indian American groups met on Wednesday at the US Capitol during a meeting organised by HinduAction. “We see a lot of Hindu phobia. We see California SB403 (the bill banning caste discrimination), and that’s just the beginning. The attacks on our temples and attacks on Hindus all over the world. That is one of the reasons why I decided to form the Hindu Caucus,” Thanedar said.

“For the first time in the United States Congress, we have a Hindu Caucus. Number of initiatives we are taking to ensure that people have religious freedom to practice their religion the way they want to and not be, we need to fight this phobia, bigotry, and hatred. Because there should be no place for hatred in America, no place for hatred against people’s religious rights. And so that’s what we are focusing on in Congress,” Thanedar, a Democrat, said.

Suhag Shukla from the Hindu American Foundation said that college campuses in particular are experiencing rampant anti-Hindu bias and hate. She also listed out some of the major incidents of hate crime against the Hindu community in the US, reported PTI. “Just in the past two years we’ve seen a spike in anti-Hindu incidents,” she said. There’s unfamiliarity and there is complacency amongst law enforcement, she said.

(PTI)

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