(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J., 8/21/2019) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today issued a public letter to the Indian Consul General condemning that nation’s actions in Kashmir and its abuses of Indian Muslims, and declining an invitation to meet with consulate officials.
Indian officials requested to meet with CAIR-NJ following its request that Governor Murphy cancel his trip to India in light of recent actions taken by the Indian government in Kashmir
In his letter, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Jim Sues states:
Mr. Sandeep Chakravorty
Consul General of India
3 East 64th Street
New York, NY 10065
Mr. Shatrughna Sinha
Deputy Consul General of India
3 East 64th Street
New York, NY 10065
RE: CAIR-New Jersey’s Call on Governor Phil Murphy to Cancel Trip to India Over Kashmir Crisis
Dear Consul General Chakravorty and Deputy Consul General Sinha:
This letter is in response to the Deputy Consul General office’s Friday, August 16 electronic correspondence to the New Jersey chapter for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-New Jersey) expressing “some concern” and seeking an “exchange of views” regarding our call for New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy to cancel his upcoming September trip to the Republic of India in response to India’s illegal actions in Kashmir.
We regret that we must decline your invitation to meet with a representative of the Consulate General of India – as no CAIR-New Jersey staff member at this time can in good conscience meet with an Indian government representative due to:
- India’s illegal revocation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution, thereby stripping Muslim majority Kashmir of its protected status;
- the Indian military’s continued communications and internet blackout of Kashmir;
- reportedly forceable detention of 4,000 elected Kashmiri political leaders, business leaders, civil society members and rights activists in secret jails by Indian forces; and,
- gross human rights abuses of Kashmiri residents by Indian security forces in Kashmir valley.
The Indian government’s mobilization of more than 40,000 to 50,000 additional military personnel to the existing 700,000 stationed troops in the region has made it the most militarized region of the world. Since the Kashmir campaign for self-determination escalated in 1989, more than 70,000 people have been killed and reports of gang rapes by Indian military abound. Some 8,000 to 10,000 people have “disappeared” since 2016, and more than 6,000 have suffered eye injuries from pellet guns, in what the New York Times called “an epidemic of dead eyes.”
Though India has eroded Kashmir’s semi-autonomy over the years, the removal of Article 370 is a brazen show of force and demonstrates disregard for the political aspirations of Kashmiris who have been waiting for the right to self-determination since it was promised by UN Resolution 47 in 1948.
Kashmiris were neither consulted nor informed of the move, making the actions unconstitutional and illegal. This revocation also paves the way for India to change the demographics in the valley.
We are also seriously concerned that the Indian government is opening detention centers for Muslim “migrants” in the Indian state of Assam, where non-migrant Muslims, including an Indian Muslim who honorably served in the Indian army as a captain, have been detained. Prime Minister Modi plans to open these detention centers across India is causing widespread fear and panic in the Indian Muslim community.
More outrageously, Mr. Modi’s government has tried to pass a new citizenship bill in the Indian Parliament that would create a pathway to citizenship for migrants from neighboring countries that are Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, and practice other religions — but leaves out Muslims. Thankfully, that discriminatory bill has stalled in the upper house of parliament.
CAIR-New Jersey also believes that it would be morally irresponsible to meet with any representatives of the Indian government appointed under the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), whose leaders have been credibly accused of encouraging “communal violence,” and failing to forcefully condemn or put a stop to recent mobs of violent Hindu nationalists lynching, murdering and brutally beating minorities, especially Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and members of lower castes within India’s society.
Since Mr. Modi was re-elected on May 21, there has been a 400 percent increase in violence against Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Dalits. Reports in the media indicate that victims of such communal violence are beaten and murdered while mobs shout or force their victims to repeat the phrase: “Jai Shri Ram,” which as you likely know means “Praise Lord Ram”, one of the gods in the Hindu pantheon of gods.
Moreover, the 2019 University of California at Berkeley study tilted “Islamophobia in India: Stoking Bigotry,” found that the 10 Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Telangana and Assam collectively accounted for 1,972 cases of politically-motivated violence, and implicated BJP leaders of stoking “communal violence” and hate.
At present, CAIR-New Jersey remains committed to advancing its advocacy campaign calling on Governor Murphy to cancel his upcoming six-day September trip to the Republic of India – as New Jersey should not prioritize potential economic benefits over the Indian government’s egregious actions in Kashmir and BJP leadership’s open hostility towards religious minorities in India.
Regardless of whether or not New Jersey Governor Murphy cancels his trip to India, CAIR-New Jersey plans to continue building coalitions based on mutual understanding to intensify calls on elected state officials and business leaders to refuse engagement with the government of India. We will also continue to coordinate with our national office and network of chapters nationwide to put pressure on the U.S. government to adopt a policy of seeking the immediate reinstatement of Article 370 and the right of residents of Jammu and Kashmir to self-determination.
We look forward to a day when the above-mentioned concerns are no longer relevant and India respects both the rights of Kashmiris to self-determination and the safety of its religious minorities.
Please have your staff contact our office should there be any new developments related to these concerns.
James R. Sues
CAIR New Jersey
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CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.