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NYT risks Hindu and Sikh minority genocide and Muslim lives under Taliban by inaccurate Indophobic report

NYT risks Hindu and Sikh minority genocide and Muslim lives under Taliban by inaccurate Indophobic report

The New York Times on 17 August 2021, headlined the bizarre claim India’s new asylum ‘law discriminated against Muslims’ by ‘favouring Hindus and Sikhs’ from Afghanistan. NYT’s report however, is far from the truth, and it puts lives, especially those of Afghan Muslims who may be deceived to think they cannot apply for asylum in India. This is contra to India’s new e-visa form which doesn’t list religion only country, including Afghanistan. It is also contra to the fact, as WION pointed out, that 4,600 visa approvals have already been processed by India in the past week. In addition, WION reports, the entire community of Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan is 1,000. WION News was quick to clarify the NYT report as ‘fake news’ saying the NYT had not fact checked and the report was ‘dangerous and misleading’ reprimanding the NYT that in times of crisis, responsible reporting is important.

The unprofessional account of the journalists is reprehensible given their incorrect interpretation was based on a single tweet by India Foreign Affairs Minister SJ Shankar who said ‘We are in constant touch with the Sikh and Hindu community leaders in Kabul. Their welfare will get our priority attention.’ This was evidently not about visas or ‘citizenship laws’. The Indian Government, WION said, is committed to prioritising Afghan Hindus and Sikhs because they are ‘open targets for the Taliban’.

This is also recognised by America who proposed similarly streamlined asylum of Hindu and Sikh Afghans in the US. On 14 August 2020, the US Congress introduced a resolution, no. 1085 which states:

Condemning targeted terrorist attacks against members of the Sikh, Hindu, and other religious minority communities in Afghanistan and supporting refugee protection for Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan in recognition of the systematic religious persecution, discrimination, and existential danger faced by the members of these communities.

Nothing appears to have come from this on the Congress portal. While the CAA received significant media attention and was condemned by many leading Human Rights organisations, including the UN no such criticism is made of the US who recognised the special risk to Hindus and Sikhs. They apparently did nothing to ensure safety and asylum before America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, when they are most at risk of genocide. Resolution 1085 was instead:

‘Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.’

The authors of the New York Times article are Karan Deep Singh and Sushani Raj. Between the two are dozens of negative NYT headlines about India. It is difficult to see how they were able to publish so many openly hostile articles without approval of the NYT Editorial board. As WION points out, the factual errors do suggest a political agenda to destabilise India’s political leadership. This is an ongoing issue for the US as we saw by their failed regime change efforts and the destruction it has wrought the entire region who are now threatened by the expansion of the Taliban. This time, they wrote:

India’s government said on Tuesday that it would prioritise taking in Hindus and Sikhs from Afghanistan — a move that drew comparisons to a contentious 2019 citizenship law, enacted under Prime Minster Narendra Modi, that discriminates against Muslims.

World media have published hundreds of reports on the targeting of women by the Taliban. The persecution of Hindu and Sikh women has not been granted the same attention although they are exponentially more at risk than Muslims because they are ‘kaffirs’ and a tiny minority at dire risk of ethnic cleansing. 

The links to the alleged ‘comparisons to the CAA’ by NYT are not indeed comparisons. There is a link to a Feb 2020 NYT article with Indian Muslims condemning the CAA as ‘discriminating’ against them. The reasoning is that Muslims are not, and allegedly should be listed.

The reason they are not listed, is exactly the same as the reasoning of Congress — the groups included in this streamlined citizenship legislation are religiously persecuted minorities in the listed countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan which are all Islamic States. The OHCHR said that Muslim minorities should have been included, yet to same could have been said of the US Congress Resolution which has much tighter criteria. The question to the OHCHR is, at which point can it be said that positive discrimination for ethnic groups at risk of extinction becomes exclusionary for not including those who are not.

The CAA is a specific set of laws and not for the entire refugee, asylum seeker, immigrant or citizenship classes. The regular laws are still available to them. The wording of the CAA is below:

Provided that any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into India on or before the 31st day of December, 2014…

India’s law lists three times the number of religions than the Congress Resolution and includes three times the number of countries. Further, it is not for any new entries. It is for those resident since 2014 and who lack citizenship, to provide this specific persecuted minority with stability in India.  

When it comes to deciding which country is ‘excluding’ Afghans, the chart below compares intake to India and the USA from Afghanistan from 2015. 

Data Source UNHCR 

There is an obsessive level of attention granted to India’s CAA law by so called ‘critics’, however it is hardly ever cited verbatim, and never with evidence of numbers. 

India has taken in many more Muslims than America. There were only 1000 Hindus and Sikhs left in Afghanistan. 

A) India took 84123 Afghan refugees and asylum seekers from 2015

B) America took 13702 Afghan refugees and asylum seekers from 2015

C) India therefore took 70, 421 more Afghans into their country than America. 

D) Even if every Hindu and Sikh from Afghanistan was accepted into India, it took 83 times more non Hindus and Sikhs. 

So who is being discriminated exactly and who is doing the discrimination?

These numbers should have first been clarified by the New York Times if they had the journalistic integrity that supports any right to ‘critique’ India’s sovereign laws.

The bigger question is, why should India and other developing nations be forced to pay the consequences of America’s failed War on Terror? And why should America be using third party countries as refuge for those asylum seekers it a) created and b) is processing for entry under its own intake quotas?

Third party countries are concerned that housing more refugees from Afghanistan invites security risks. America expects other countries to be burdened with problems that America is not prepared to take responsibility for itself. And then, it’s news houses attack India for not doing enough whilst it already absorbs six times America’s intake and those figures are consistent across five years.

America sat on a resolution to provide refuge to those it identified as the most persecuted minorities of Afghanistan for a whole year. Why were those few Hindus and Sikhs not evacuated to America when troops were withdrawn? Surely there should be discussions about financial compensation and security infrastructure for those now being forced to deal with America’s refugee fallout. America has a duty of care to support countries like India who are picking up the pieces of their war on terror and will be now at further risk of terrorism, in what is an already volatile region. And the NYT has a duty to report unbiased, objective facts especially concerning those branded by extremists as ‘kaffirs’ who are presently at a very clear risk of ‘existential danger’ as the Congress Resolution states, of being genocided by the Taliban.

(Updated August 20 2021)



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