After Seattle, US Hindu rightwing moves to block caste protections in California
After Seattle passed historic legislation to ban caste-based discrimination, Hindu extremists in the United States are now gearing up to prevent similar legislation from being passed in California.
California Senate Bill 403 (SB403) would update the existing California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) “to prohibit prescribed discriminatory employment practices on account of caste” as well as housing discrimination.
Prominent rightwing Hindu groups, some of which have links to Hindu supremacist militant groups in India, are falsely claiming that any move to protect Dalits from caste discrimination would lead to discrimination against all Hindus.
The Hindu Policy Research and Advocacy Collective USA (HinduPACT USA), an initiative of the US wing of the India-based militant group Vishwa Hindu Parishad, is calling on Hindus to sign a petition “to Reject SB-403 to Protect Hindus from Discrimination.”
Hindu American Foundation, which has been known to weaponize litigation to fight against caste protections, also opposed the bill.
However, Democratic senator Aisha Wahab has slammed such claims.
“What the opposition would have you believe is that this bill’s effort to provide clarity of language in state law and protection to caste- oppress Dalits in particular, or formerly known as the untouchables is in turn targeting a different group of oppressed people. That is not the case,” she said.
Employment discrimination on the basis of caste is especially rampant in Silicon Valley. In 2020, the state of California sued Cisco Systems over complaints that an engineer was being discriminated against on the basis of his caste.
BJP, Hindu extremists continue sparking violence during Ram Navami
In a disturbing parallel to last year, Hindu supremacist mobs are once again carrying out provocative processions, looting Muslim-owned homes, and sparking anti-Muslim violence during Ramadan the Hindu festival Ram Navami.
West Bengal state continues to see incidents violence after Hindu supremacists who support Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attacked Muslim areas by arsoning vehicles and looting homes.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Batterjee has slammed the Hindu supremacists, saying that the rioters were hired from other states to target Muslims and stage riots.
“Nobody has stopped their processions, but they do not have the right to march with swords and bulldozers. How did they get the audacity to do this in Howrah [city]?” she said.
In Mumbai city, a mob of several hundred Hindu supremacists paraded at midnight through a Muslim-majority area, blasting incendiary music right in front of a mosque. Stone-pelting broke out, leading to several arrests.
Opposition leaders have stated that the BJP encourages such incidents of violence in order to secure electoral victories.
Muslims excluded from reservation in BJP-ruled Karnataka
In Karnataka state’s latest attempt to disenfranchise vulnerable Muslims, the state chief minister Basavaraj Bommai announced that Muslims would be excluded from their current segment of India’s reservation system, also known as affirmative action.
The reservation system, which was introduced to address historical discrimination and social inequality, reserves a percentage of seats in educational institutions and government jobs for members of marginalized communities such as Dalits, tribals, and Muslims. The percentage of reserved seats varies for different categories and is reviewed periodically.
Under the new change, Muslims will be excluded from a reservation percentage meant for more marginalized groups, further pushing them out of educational institutions and government positions.
The move has been slammed by opposition parties as discriminatory and willfully ignorant of the poverty Muslims often live in.