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Hate crimes against Hindus in US motivated by Khalistanis amid Islamic bid of focus dilution

A Hindu man was verbally abused in a Taco Bell eatery in California on 21 August, marking another episode in a spate of hate crimes against the community of Indian origin in the US, according to a report in The Washington Post (The WaPo). Krishnan Iyer was in a Taco Bell eatery near his house, where a Sikh man used slurs like "dirty Hindu" and "ugly Hindu" and told him his community "bathes in cow urine" and eats "cow sh*t", using stereotypical remarks that are part of the propaganda against Hindus by Muslims of the Asian subcontinent.

The racist Sikh man has been identified as Tejinder Singh.

An 8 min long video shot by Iyer shows the tall in a black T-shirt and shorts with red sneakers hurling racist slurs at the person of Indian origin (PIO). "It was very abundantly clear to me that he was trying to stir the pot and try to push his agenda," said Iyer, who called the attack "disgusting." "I didn’t have any reason to react to him. I do a lot of and yoga, and that gave me a sense of perspective that his soul was in distress."

Iyer said there was no provocation for the attack but guessed the Sikh man got these false notions about Hindus from his community in the US. While the media house has raised the issue via a report by a woman PIO, it took the activism by Sikhs in the US for "an movement" in Punjab, which "has been stirring high feelings among Punjabis in North America. In Iyer’s video, the perpetrator can be heard speaking Punjabi and denouncing Indira Gandhi, the former Indian prime minister who was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards, and displaying tattoos of a phrase from a Sikh prayer".

In the said incident, two cops from Fremont responded to a call from another patron and the abuser was forced to leave the establishment. Sgt Kim Macdonald said the Fremont Police Department had initiated an investigation.

While an incident of hate crime against Hindus was reported from Plano in subsequently, a statue of MK Gandhi was vandalised and desecrated outside the Queen's temple twice earlier in less than a month. After vandals toppled the second statue, New York Mayor Eric Adams (D) and several faith leaders from the Hindu, Jewish and Sikh communities in the neighbourhood gathered at the temple to denounce what the New York Police Department is investigating as a hate crime. The Hindu Foundation's executive director Suhag Shukla said that surveillance videos recorded the attackers using phrases used typically by the Sikh separatist movement, known in India as the Khalistani movement.

The incident in was reported and discussed widely in India. On 26 August, the Council of -Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a statement against the attack on women of Indian origin in Texas and said, "Such bigoted cannot be tolerated". CAIR is known for its anti-India and anti-Hindu stand. Interestingly, following the attack on the women, the videos of the incident went viral on social media. Hindu organization Hindu American Foundation shared the reports and condemned the attack. To everyone’s surprise, the son of one of the victims identified himself as being related to her and claimed "anti-Hindu" and "anti-Indian" are not the same. He further called out the Hindu organisation for using the incident for "nationalist propaganda".

Details of the incident left Hindus in India confused when news reached the country that Amit Banerjee, son of Rani Banerjee, who was a victim of the incident, had tweeted, "This is my mom’s video. It’s not anti-Hindu. It’s anti-brown/Anti-Indian, which is NOT the same. We will not be used for your nationalist propaganda." Banerjee deleted the tweet later.

Twitter user @Parikramah said that he spoke to representatives of Hindu organisations on the case, but the women had turned down their support.

On the other hand, CAIR, which came in support of the victims, made the hate crime look like a conspiracy against the "South Asian Community", which is a broad stroke that fails to identify neither Indians in general nor Hindus in particular. The propaganda to deflect the target of hatred to "South Asia" is, of course, an old issue with leftists and Islamists. Even communist outfits that spring up like mushrooms in the US, purportedly to study Indian affairs, carry "South Asia" as a part of their names.

Meanwhile, even as the incident of racist slurs spewed on an Indian in California had a Sikh motivation, it does not necessarily mean Sikhs are enjoying a status of equality in the US. In fact, hate crimes against them are more frequent. The FBI’s hate-crime explorer updated two years ago show there were 11 hate crimes recorded in 2020 that betrayed an "anti-Hindu bias" compared to 110 anti-Muslim and 89 anti-Sikh incidents.

However, a Rutgers University’s Network Contagion Lab study published last month shows that anti-Hindu sentiments in the US are on the rise. At an event organised by the Coalition of Hindus of North America on 25 August, lead researcher Joel Finkelstein pointed to memes and online social cyber signals referring to perceived "dirty" and "scamming" qualities of Hindus, as well as depictions of Hindus being brutalized. Many of the memes, The WaPo quoted him as saying, were manufactured out of commonly used tropes against Jewish people, using tilaks, swastikas and bindis to signify Hindu culture. "The internet has provided a fertile ground for the large-scale organization and weaponization of Hinduphobia by extremist communities, state actors and hateful players in the online space," Finkelstein said.

A problem, Finkelstein said, was social media platforms like Twitter not recognising the Hindumisia kind of targeted hatred. The diatribe against Hindus on social media platforms "reliably precedes real-world violence" and such rants largely go unchecked, he said. "Unfortunately, these incidents are evidence of the untackled Hinduphobia that refuses to be given mainstream acknowledgement," said Pushpita Prasad, of the Coalition of Hindus of North America. She said COHNA often battles with academics, activists and journalists to acknowledge the existence of anti-Hindu hate.

In California, Iyer said both COHNA and the Hindu Foundation contacted him. The second group contacted the FBI and the Fremont City Council too. He said he was "truly grateful" for the outpouring of support he has received from people around the world. "Being a Hindu means you are a universal human," Iyer said. "At the end of the day, everyone has a soul, and every soul has a light. That’s the true spirit of Hinduism."

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