'Ghar Wapsi' victims join Sikh body lawsuit seeking terror tag on RSS
Three Indians, alleging forcible conversion to Hinduism by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), have joined a Sikh rights group in filing an amended lawsuit appealing a US court to designate RSS a ‘terror group’.
Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) said the three are victims of the ‘Ghar Wapsi’ campaign of alleged forcible religious conversions launched by the RSS.
The amended complaint has been filed by Micheal Masih, Hasim Ali and Kulwinder Singh, belonging to the Christian, Muslim and Sikh faiths along with SFJ and seeks the terror label for the RSS.
The complaint alleges that after the BJP came to power in 2014, its "ideological mentor" is "attempting to forcibly convert their families to Hinduism."
The complaint filed before Judge Laura Taylor Swain cites the 2015 report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) which in December 2014 noted that Hindu nationalist groups announced plans to forcibly "reconvert" at least 4,000 Christian families and 1,000 Muslim families in Uttar Pradesh as part of 'Ghar Wapsi' programme.
"In the amended complaint, we have invoked International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998 which was enacted to express United States foreign policy with respect individuals persecuted in foreign countries on account of religion and to authorise United States actions in response to violations of religious freedom in foreign countries," SFJ legal adviser Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said.
"Based on the evidence and recent report of USCIRF, Obama administration is bound under law to declare organisations like RSS as terror groups," he said.
In April, the US had asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed against Secretary of State John Kerry by SFJ that wanted RSS to be designated as a "foreign terrorist organisation," saying that the group does not have "any entitlement" to "compel" the top American diplomat to make such a designation.