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New Delhi: The Indian American Muslim Council has condemned minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s comments against it in response to former vice-president Hamid Ansari’s remarks on “cultural nationalism” at an event organised by the US-based non-profit advocacy group.
At a virtual panel discussion organised by the Indian American Muslim Council on Republic Day, Ansari said there has been emergence of trends and practices that dispute the well-established principle of civic nationalism and interpose a new and imaginary practice of cultural nationalism.
There are attempts to distinguish citizens on the basis of their faith, give vent to intolerance, Ansari had added.
In reaction, Naqvi told reporters on January 28, “Some people are becoming a part of anti-India conspiracy of Pakistan sponsored organisations. These organisations are conspiring to create confusion over India’s culture and inclusivity”.
India Today has reported that Naqvi said the event attended by Ansari was organised by a group that had a “link with SIMI [Students’ Islamic Movement of India] and ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence]” of the Pakistan Army.
“Some people are becoming a part of anti-India conspiracy of Pakistan sponsored organisations. These organisations are conspiring to create confusion over India’s culture and inclusivity,” Naqvi said, according to the news agency PTI.
“The mindset of Modi-bashing is now changed to Bharat-bashing”, he alleged, adding that the, “Bharat bashing brigade is engaged in a competition of lynching of the country’s culture, commitment and constitution.”
The IAMC has likened Naqvi and others’ retaliation to a “smear campaign”.
It has further noted that Naqvi said that it was “long involved in spreading anti-India propaganda” and “part of a conspiracy that claimed violence had occurred in Tripura;” that IAMC had “a history of spreading communal violence in India;” and that “everyone knows” IAMC was “Pakistan-sponsored.”
Categorically denying all these allegations, the IAMC has challenged Naqvi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to furnish evidence to “prove even one of these baseless and fraudulent claims.”
“IAMC does not have ties to Pakistan, ISI or SIMI. IAMC has zero history of spreading communal violence in India. [It] is a 20-year-old bonafide nonprofit registered as a 501(c)(3) organization in the United States with a strong history of advocacy with the US Congress and the US Government in partnership with global civil society,” the organisation noted in a press statement.
IAMC noted that it was among the civil rights organisations that led the movement in 2005 to ban Modi, who was then Gujarat chief minister, from entering the US due to his role in the Gujarat riots of 2002 in which over 2,000 Muslim people were killed.
“SIMI has been banned eight times under the Unlawful (Activities) Prevention Act since 2001. Each time, the ban was adjudicated upon at a tribunal constituted under a high court judge. Not once in all these years has India’s federal government claimed at the court that IAMC is linked with SIMI,” the group notes, adding that there is no governmental or police document anywhere in India or in the US that claims that IAMC was linked to SIMI or any communal violence anywhere in India, or to terrorism, directly or indirectly.
IAMC also draws attention to Naqvi mentioning the Tripura FIR. In the aftermath of communal violence in Tripura, the state’s police slapped 102 people with UAPA charges for mentioning the event on social media and arrested two journalists, who eventually got bail.
“It is disingenuous and pitiful that Minister Naqvi referenced Tripura Police’s FIR that names, among others, IAMC in regards to the anti-Muslim violence in Tripura in October. In an indication of what might be the eventual fate of that absurd and malicious FIR, India’s Supreme Court has already provided relief to two Supreme Court lawyers and a journalist who are also named in the same FIR besides IAMC,” the organisation notes.
The organisation adds that last weekend the Tripura Police reportedly filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court making “fraudulent claims about IAMC on the basis of a website named Disinfolab”.
“We are aware that the Tripura Police is referring to www.thedisinfolab.org, which has emerged in recent months as a fake news factory connected to the Hindutva disinformation universe,” it adds.
Reiterating its commitment to protecting a secular, pluralist and democratic India, as per the constitution, IAMC notes that it has the support of an overwhelming number of American senators, congress representatives, human rights organisations and civil society groups.
“The real reason why Prime Minister Modi is deeply troubled by the IAMC is that even as his authoritarian rule commits widespread human rights abuses against Indian Muslims, jailing and killing thousands of them, he cannot touch IAMC because we are based in the United States where we take pride in the Rule of Law and protection from abusive State action,” it adds.
“Mr. Modi and his extremist cohorts cannot silence IAMC. Their Islamophobia does not inform either the American State or its people…IAMC will continue to shine even brighter light on the egregious behavior of Prime Minister Modi’s government, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and their network of terrorists from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal,” the group ultimately notes.