On Friday, February 26, 2021, the Chicago City Council deferred the passing of the anti-India, anti-CAA resolution to its next session in March 2021. Mark rounds 1 to 5 to the Indian Americans in Chicago. But it is far from being over.
Get ready for Round 6
As with all actions of the anti-India brigade, their motives are ulterior, their methods are underhanded, and the attitude is aggressive. Led by organizations like CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations), they work on passing anti-CAA and anti-Indian resolutions across the United States and in other parts of the world.
We get the news usually secondhand after the resolution is passed, mostly from newspapers like The Muslim Mirror. Or sometimes when we get a whiff, like in Seattle and St. Paul, a big fight ensues, yet with quick capitulation.
The sneaky anti-India resolution starts by hailing India’s democracy and Independence Day, precisely because it was first introduced weeks before August 15th.
But Chicago differs slightly
The Indian American community in Chicago has deep roots, includes many motels and small business owners, and has continued a level of civic and political engagement that is usually absent among the newer settlers who have arrived in the Tech Boom era.
These factors have helped the Indian Americans community to galvanize, mobilize and organize some level of resistance, to counter this anti-India resolution when it moved the rounds in the City Halls of Chicago.
The sneaky anti-India resolution starts by hailing India’s democracy and Independence Day, precisely because it was first introduced weeks before August 15th. Then it breaks into a new tone as the resolution then goes on to admonish and condemn India for its Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
That was in July-August 2020 time frame, in Round 1. After Round 1, the resolution was moved to the Health and Human Relations Committee, a much smaller group that was able to listen to both sides presenting their arguments, and the Chicago Indian American teams worked hard to keep this resolution at bay. And so it did, until recently, when the Health and Human relations department passed the anti-India resolution in Round 3 and mainstreamed it to the City Council.
Organizations like the Federation of Indian Americans, Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), Asian Hotel Owners Associations, Asian Store Owners Associations, World Hindu Council, HinduPact, and CoHNA lent their weight.
Now the resolution has become an all-encompassing juggernaut, still retaining the old anti-CAA language but also condemning India for human rights violations in Kashmir, for the persecution of minorities, freedom of the press, and all the shebang throwing in everything for good measure, making sure something will stick.
An embellished resolution presented to the Council in Round 4
In Round 4, the City Council deferred the resolution hearing, to the next meeting. That would mean next month on March 24. But as another sneaky move, the resolution was re-introduced within the next three days, in an interim session that was meant mainly for passing the city budget.
Now on to Round 5
The recent rounds have shown the hollowness of the other side, their false claims, and unwarranted insidious agenda to malign the current Modi government. It has also shown how much work the Chicago Indian Americans are putting in. The biggest strength of the community is that they have tried to galvanize everyone, with all hands on deck.
Firstly, the Indian community garnered a signature campaign and a social media campaign with over 3700 signatures. The other side had just 123 signatories.
Pro CAA support from several orgs
Many organizations in Chicago and around the country wrote in support of the Indian government while opposing the resolution. Organizations like the Federation of Indian Americans, Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), Asian Hotel Owners Associations, Asian Store Owners Associations, World Hindu Council, HinduPact, and CoHNA lent their weight.
“We countered with strong messaging and facts,” said Amitabh Mittal who is associated with many organizations and is an active community leader in Chicago. When the other side brought out some figures condemning 200 persecutions of minorities in India, we countered with a fact-based report. “The City of Chicago has seen a rising homicide rate from 506 in 2019 to 740 murders in 2020,” said Mr Amitabh Mittal quoting a media report, “and this is in a population of 3 Million whereas in India its 1.3 Billion. How’s that for perspective?”
It should be added here that Mary Suresh Iyer has highlighted the fabrication of these claims as an exaggeration and false fitting some accidental deaths into a persecution framework.
Thirdly, much effort was made to highlight the need to address the religious persecutions in Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan through the CAA laws. Mr Sachin Tripathi has over the months, helped to present the refugee testimonials through his outreach. This has brought real-life stories to the fore, to make sure the aldermen understand the ground realities.
Another young, compelling female voice, who did not want to be named, stood for the changes in Kashmir, calling it a restoration of human rights, including for women and Dalits and the Valmiki’s of Kashmir. As the anti-India side has detailed UN Commissioners call out to Kashmir human rights, it is pertinent to note, that lack of internet access was the main violation cited by the UN as during COVID, that impedes children’s education. “Kashmir has been peaceful since the removal of 370. Election with larger voter turnout than the population of the city of Chicago has been recorded there and this is a hallmark of democracy. The biggest human right is the right to live not the right to access to the internet,” she remarked.
Community leaders swing into action
Additionally, many community leaders have swung into action and are actively engaging with the Council and the community.
As Maria Hadden proposed the resolution, the Indian Community in Chicago has wondered aloud as to when the City Council will look into the deep distress, unemployment, health issues, and rising crime rate in the city. But no! Here we are discussing a government and democracy many miles away.
Social media was abuzz. Never had such civic engagement been noticed around any city business remarked one tweet.
Due to a high level of engagement of the Chicago Indian American community, with a strong base in the city in terms of businesses and deeper roots, the city has been actively fighting this Anti-India Resolution R2020 – 583, supported by anti-India forces like CAIR.
Chicago Alderwoman Maria Hadden (49th ward) proposed a resolution supporting human rights in India.@mehdirhasan
— Debbie Hillman — Food + Farms + Democracy (@DLHillman) February 26, 2021
100% of the public comments today (all 11) we’re abt @ChiAlderwoman resolution on India’s independence. I’ve never seen this level of mobilization around ANY issue in the city. Not even speakers on school closings, as far as I recall, managed to ever snag ALL the speaking spots
— Maya Dukmasova (@mdoukmas) February 26, 2021
Many dubious signatories
While CAIR assembled 24 organizations to sign, some alert participants found on further analysis that 7 of their organizations were defunct, annulled due to irregularities. Not only that but 2 of these were not even American organizations but were based out of UAE. Such underhand and insidious methods are widely prevalent in this lobby and not surprising at all.
While India and Modi continue their vaccine diplomacy and Indian Americans keep working at climbing corporate and academic ladders, the anti-India lobby continues its malicious agenda and frivolous and divisive campaign.
The fact that the Biden Administration has prominent anti-Indian faces in its team has not helped. Renee Lynn recently called out Sameera Fazili, White House spokesperson for her anti-Kashmir positions. The speakers who want the resolution to pass, quoted anti-CAA positions, selectively from Joe Biden’s manifesto. Of course, they omitted the mention that the Biden government supports the Farm Bills by India.
Welcome to “America” under Biden Admin. Meet Sameera Fazili, a Kashmiri Islamist, allied with Islamists & Pak ISI. She’s the new White House Spokesperson. Yesterday, she gave her briefing & has a history of bashing India & supporting terrorists in India. She clearly hates Hindus. pic.twitter.com/2iViAo4Xbp
— Renee Lynn (@Voice_For_India) February 26, 2021
Our facts and data submitted to the aldermen, made three to ask that the resolution be challenged or deferred to the next meeting. Anti-India forces are furious and trying to tarnish these aldermen. Social media was full of messages questioning them.
What happens next?
The next meeting in March and this may be our last chance to make an impact. Fifty aldermen make up the Chicago City Council, each representing one of Chicago’s wards. The anti-Indian lobby has been well known to use quid pro quo and poaching techniques to bring votes to their position. These non-binding resolutions are a perfect two-in-one gain for this group, accessing systemic penetration into the US political machinery while at the same time maligning India. They started out with about 4 votes moving on to 7 and 9 in the second rounds and now they are at 17 votes. They just need 26 votes in all. Regardless of what is true and right, if at all they manage their machinations and reach that number, it will be a sizeable victory for the anti-India lobby.
While India and Modi continue their vaccine diplomacy and Indian Americans keep working at climbing corporate and academic ladders, the anti-India lobby continues its malicious agenda and frivolous and divisive campaign. It does not help that we have a Pramila Jayapal to further their agenda or that they have the leverage, bank, and political will to move a Mr Pushkar Sharma from the north-east to Chicago to help their Chicago Campaign.
Democrats infiltrated by Anti-India elements?
If the broader Indian American community has not realized how the Democrats are infiltrated by anti-India elements, and what is at stake in this game, they need to wake up and smell the coffee and stop being divided in their voting patterns.
An anti-Hindu and anti-Indian American campaign has completely changed the narrative in media and in political circles. Desecration of Gandhi Statues and mob attacks like the one at Dr Romesh Japra’s house is a foreboding of a tough environment for a quiet, model community that has so far done well minding its own business.
We may not have that option left anymore.
These political city resolutions may be non-binding with no real strategic implications on the Indian government. But if a significant number of cities pass these resolutions, it may result in a Congressional session in D.C. (like for Jammu-Kashmir in November 2019) which can cause a lot of bad press for India.
Even at a smaller scale, these individual resolutions create a media narrative, in school research and academics, harming the image of the Indian Americans.
Only an aware, awake and engaged Indian American can help us continue our legacy and future march in our adoptive country. Only coming together on a common platform can help us counter this Juggernaut.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
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