IAMC applauds unsealing of discovery documents in Hindu America Foundation’s spurious libel lawsuit - IAMC
HAF lawsuit

IAMC applauds unsealing of discovery documents in Hindu America Foundation’s spurious libel lawsuit

Washington D.C. (June 7, 2023) — The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) welcomes the decision of Judge Amit P Mehta of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, who has unsealed vital documents in the dismissed libel lawsuit filed by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) against IAMC and several other key human rights groups and individuals. HAF, a group that has ties with numerous Hindu nationalist organizations, launched its spurious libel lawsuit in 2021. 

Previously classified discovery items from the case, detailing HAF donor lists, HAF’s expulsion from human rights coalitions, canceled events, denied grants, and more, will now be available for public perusal and research.  Journalist Raqib Hameed Naik had launched the initial request for the documents to be unsealed. 

“This is a great day for transparency and rule of law,” said IAMC President Mohammed Jawad. “These unsealed documents will no doubt prove useful in understanding the powers behind the Hindu American Foundation and its Hindu nationalist campaign to influence the Indian American diaspora.”

The HAF lawsuit, filed in 2021, falsely claimed that IAMC, Hindus for Human Rights, Rutgers University Professor Audrey Truschke and John Prabhudoss, the former chairman of Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA), had “conspired to publish… allegedly false and defamatory statements” about the HAF on the Al Jazeera website. 

In 2022, Judge Mehta found that the defendant’s statements did not defame HAF and that “most of the statements are clearly statements of opinion.” In his decision, Judge Mehta challenged HAF’s claim that it was not linked to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu supremacist government and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), writing: “HAF supports the political party currently in power in India, often labeled a ‘Hindu nationalist’ party.”

Speaking at an event following IAMC’s defeat of the lawsuit, attorney Daniel Sullivan reported how the suit had helped bring to light the extent of HAF’s connections with Hindu nationalist paramilitary groups in India. “They didn’t contest that HAF’s treasurer is the son of the National Vice President of the US wing of the RSS. They didn’t contest that his family had donated a significant sum to HAF in 2018. They didn’t contest that a co-founder of HAF was formally associated with an affiliate of the RSS. They didn’t contest that HAF had defended the Indian government’s passage of legislation that the United Nations described as fundamentally discriminatory… They didn’t claim that any of that was untrue,” he said.

“Now further connections with Hindu nationalist groups are likely to come to light,” said IAMC President Jawad. “HAF’s attempt to silence and intimidate IAMC has decisively backfired, and now more information will come to see the light of day exposing what they have denied all along: namely, that they are deeply enmeshed in the world of Hindu supremacism.”