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Amanpreet Grewal: Hindutva Groups Are Organizing In Canada And Our Politicians Need To Be Vigilant
Our elected officials need to make sure they are doing their research before agreeing to attend an event, as harmless as it may appear.
January 7, 2022 | 3 min. read | Opinion
Far-right Hindutva groups are increasingly organizing and mobilizing in Canada, including in Ontario. As we near two important elections in the province this year (provincial elections are in June and municipal elections are in October) our public officials and institutions need to remain vigilant and careful about who exactly they may be engaging with - inadvertently or otherwise.
Earlier this week, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad Canada (VHP Canada), an organization established in 1984 and a branch of India-based Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), held a free online event for “international student and youth mentoring”. The advertised goal of the event was to create a support network for international students and youth in the community.
The event seemed harmless enough, with concerns regarding the well-being of international students dominating community conversations lately, and was even attended by local politicians.
However, while the program may not seem problematic, the hosts definitely are.
The VHP was founded in India in 1964 and is a major part of the far-right Hindu nationalist Sangh Parivar which is made up of the BJP, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and other religious militant groups including the Bajrang Dal.
The VHP was established in part by Madhavrao Sadashivrao Golwalkar, one of the most influential members of the RSS and someone known to have pro-Nazi views.
The VHP believes in establishing a homogenous Hindu Nation state in India, and continuously targets minorities such as Muslims and Christians. They also believe that the Sikhs are a subset of Hinduism formed for their protection. This is also evident from their portrayal of Sikh Gurus as Hindus including pictures such as the one found on their Twitter profile cover.
The Human Rights Watch names VHP and others as complicit forces in the Gujarat Riots of 2002. The CIA of the United States classified VHP as a religious militant outfit in its World Factbook in 2018. Numerous other international organizations and groups have been raising red flags over the Sangh Parivar and the RSS as well, all connected to the VHP.
More recently, in 2021, Australian MP David Shoebridge called out Hindutva organizations in that country during an increase in Anti-Sikh violence in connection with the Farmers’ Protest.
“We’re seeing the Sikh Temple being attacked by right-wing Hindu extremists. Well, we are calling it out today and saying that must end” he said. This issue of Hindu nationalist violence being exported out of India and into diaspora communities through Sangh Parivar related actors was extensively covered by Baaz and others.
Many communities have sought and continue to seek refuge and safe haven in Canada, after fleeing persecution in South Asia. However, this safe haven now faces a threat with the rise of Hindu nationalist groups here. We are seeing hate crimes on the rise in the diaspora.
As Canadians and members of a persecuted minority in India, we need to be vigilant and safeguard our communities here. There is a need to speak up and challenge the threat we face.
This is not new, and a similar issue occurred when the HSS (the international arm of the RSS) held events with Peel Regional Police (PRP), in what many saw as an attempt from the Sangh Parivar to normalize their agenda. After news broke about the problematic connections, those joint events stopped.
“In a time where white supremacists and nationalist groups are gaining a lot of media attention, and anti-hate efforts in Canada are at their highest in recent memory, the timing of this PRP event is extremely problematic,” Jaskaran Sandhu said at the time in 2018. A lot of that remains true today in regards to the VHP Canada event from January 1, 2022.
Our elected officials in Canada need to understand that they cannot speak out against hate crimes and racism while also accidentally or purposely entertaining or engaging with deeply problematic Hindu nationalist organizations operating here. They need to make sure they are doing their research before agreeing to an event, as harmless as it may appear.
All the more important as we go into what will be a busy Ontario election season.
Amanpreet Singh Grewal was born in Rexdale and raised in Malton and Brampton. He is currently working as a senior accountant in public accounting. You can find him on Twitter at @amangrewal_19
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