On 29 January 2019, when Raj Patel’s eyes fell on the temple, he was stunned.
This temple was ransacked. Hateful messages were written on the walls of the gallery. Some of these were messages promoting Christianity.
“I had never seen this happen. My heart stopped for a second,” says Patel, spokesperson of the Maninagar Sri Swaminarayan Garhi temple in the city of Louisville, Kentucky state, USA.
Raj Patel, born and raised in America, says that there was fear, anger and sorrow in him. In July of the same year, there was news of a priest being beaten up badly in New York.
He had to be hospitalized. In 2016, a cow’s severed head was thrown into a Hindu cow sanctuary in the state of Pennsylvania.
‘Hindu Americans for Biden’
There is less than two months left for the presidential election in the United States, and a new campaign, ‘Hindu Americans for Biden’, has committed to punish in such hate cases or hate crimes and provide protection to worship places.
Murali Balaji of ‘Hindu Americans for Biden’ says, “This is the first time this has been particularly talked about for Hindu Americans in the election campaign of a Democratic presidential candidate. This is unprecedented.”
After the “Hindu Voices for Trump” campaign started on 14 August, Biden had to launch his own campaign to woo around 2 million Hindus. In the ‘Hindu Americans for Biden’ campaign it has been said that hat crimes against Hindus have increased almost three times.
Referring to the government data, it said, “In 2015, there were five crimes against Hindus, while in 2019 the number increased to 14. In 2017, these crimes increased to 15”.
In the inaugural webinar, Indian American lawmaker Raja Krishnamurthy said in the US, “In the last four years we have seen an increase in hatred, discrimination, intolerance. This intolerance has also taken place against Hindu Americans.”
According to the data provided by Hindu Voices for Trump, there are total 662 temples in America.
Afraid of burglary in Democratic votes?
Indian Americans have historically liked Democrats. About 4.5 million people of Indian origin live in America. In 2016, only 16 percent of Indian Americans voted for Trump.
A section of Democrat Indian Americans feel that the number of Trump supporters may increase. There are many reasons behind this.
Although the Trump administration has remained largely silent on the steps taken by the Indian government such as Kashmir and NRC, Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Pramila Jaipal have strongly criticized India.
Trump’s presence at the Howdy Modi event and his visit to India led many to believe that a large number of Indian Americans, and particularly hardcore Hindus, would go to the American Trump’s court. Issues like Kashmir, NRC, CAA have been mentioned in Biden’s vision document. It is titled “Joe Biddens Agenda for Muslim-American Communities”.
Due to this some people raised the demand that one such policy paper should be for Hindu Americans too. Many people consider Trump as a supporter of India. Even liberal Democrats are nervous about it. This has led to things like Biden’s vision document for Indian Americans, Biden and Harris’s message for India’s Independence Day and Ganesh Chaturthi, and ‘Hindu Americans for Biden’.
The cross-border terrorism and threats from China have also been mentioned in the vision document on Indian Americans. According to Biden Campaign, there are 13.1 lakh important Indian American votes in eight states.
Feedback on the Trump campaign
In such a situation, should the ‘Hindu Americans for Biden’ campaign not be considered a reaction to gain lost votes? A Democrat Indian American described it as “making up for the loss”, but said “even the smallest thing will help.”
Murali Balaji of ‘Hindu Americans for Biden’ says, “It is not a reaction, but it is a parallel work.”
He reminds that “there was a very close relationship between Indian PM Modi and former President Barack Obama”.
Says Murali, “Obama was a record number of Hindus working in Biden’s administration. I believe that there are Indians of America who are conservative on issues like tax, regulations. It is important to vote for Trump on some issues.” Have talked. In other words, these people did not have to encourage Trump to vote. In any case they are likely to vote for Trump. “
Joe Biden has appeared in several election surveys, but Trump is still seen as a strong candidate. In such a situation, no core is being left in Biden’s campaign.
Apart from India, Hindus from other countries of the world including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Guyana and Trinidad are also in America. Many of these Hindus have come to America to avoid being a victim of harassment in their country of origin.
Murali says, “Neither all Indians are Hindus nor all Hindus are Indians.”
Election campaign delays?
According to Nikki Shah, a member of ‘Hindu Americans for Biden’, preparations were on to start this campaign for about a month. But, there is less than 60 days left in the elections, has not this campaign started late?
Murali says, “It has been done right after the conventions, which also sends the message that no votes have been taken lightly in Biden’s campaign.” It is also an ideal time to understand the diversity of the Hindu American community. “
Kamala Harris’s appeal has also been taken in this campaign.
Raj Patel feels that the election of Kamla Harris will create a curiosity about Hindus in America.
Congress member Raja Krishnamurthy said in a webinar, “She is a Hindu from her mother’s side. If you look at the pictures of her family, you will find yourself in those pictures. She highly respects her relationship with the Hindu American community. . “
Hindus in America
The Indian Americans I spoke to said that racism is a reality in the US. But, what does it mean to be a Hindu in America?
Raj says that not many people understand Hinduism in America.
Says Raj Patel, “I still remember those incidents of growing up when we had to run home due to being bullied and targeted. There were occasions when many children called us Hindus, not because of this It used to be that Hinduism is a separate religion, rather it was due to discrimination and racism. “
Raj says that he no longer sees this happening to his children. Instead they feel that they are targeted because of being a brown person.
Dr. Shankar Shastri, who runs Lakshmi Kau Sanctuary (cow sanctuary) in Pennsylvania, says that he never felt that he was targeted because of his faith. “People are sympathetic. We are tolerant and are moving forward. A few people can be such fanatics, but usually they are good people.”
The cow’s head was found in the same sanctuary in 2016, but they refuse to consider it a hate crime. “They were the teenagers who apologized and we accepted it. That’s why I don’t consider it a hate crime.”
Has hate crime increased against Hindus in the last few years?
Shastri says, “But, this happened during the time of Obama and not during the presidential trump.”