The Conflation of Hinduism and Hindutva. Concerns about Dr. Pushpa Wood.

A year ago, far-right Hindu extremists, driven by their ideology of Hindutva, launched a vicious disinformation campaign targeting academics, a large majority of them Hindu, who had come together for a conference titled “Dismantling Global Hindutva.” The far-right Hindu extremists labelled these academics as “Hinduphobic” (a made up term equivalent to White Lives Matter), and targeted them with threats to their jobs, threat of rape and violence including murder. Mirroring the strategies of the white extremist far-right, Hindutva-related organisations launched letter-writing campaigns targeting the academics and the institutions that employed them.

Professor Vinayak Chaturvedi, Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine wrote about these attacks on academia: 

“In the United States, “Hinduphobia” has become a term deployed to denounce anyone who is concerned about inequality based on class, caste, race, religion, gender, and sexuality in India. Any less-than-celebratory study of the history and politics of India is branded as “Hinduphobic.” Academic research that provides a critique of Hindutva is often condemned for “hurting the sentiments of Hindus”—a clarion call dating back to the early 20th century.”

The Guardian and Al Jazeera, also covered these threats.

That Aotearoa New Zealand is not immune to the disinformation and hate ecosystem of Hindutva became amply evident when Professor Mohan Dutta, Dean’s Chair Professor of Communication and Director of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) at Massey University came under attack. These attacks were led by a white Australian Hindu supremacist Twitter account over a white paper Professor Dutta wrote titled Cultural Hindutva And Islamophobia and CARE’s participation as a sponsor of the “Dismantling Global Hindutva” conference.


The Twitter assault as well as a petition organised by the white Australian Hindutva supremacist were picked up by the global Hindutva hate ecosystem including in India and was weaponised here in Aotearoa New Zealand by organisations like Hindu Youth and the Hindu Council of New Zealand (or, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of New Zealand, a militant organisation. See link towards the end of this post.). Professor Dutta was and still is the target of rape threats, death threats, and disinformation campaigns run from anonymous websites.

We note here with deep alarm that the same white Australian Hindu supremacist hate account as well as the anonymous twitter accounts and websites were connected to the recent Hindutva-led violence in Leicester.

Here’s an analysis by Professor Dutta of how the disinformation was mobilized by co-opting democratic and institutional processes in Aotearoa New Zealand.

At the crux of the disinformation campaign was the framing of Professor Dutta, a practicing Hindu, as Hinduphobic. (We would like to remind here that Hinduism is a pantheist, pluralistic religion where practices, rituals and prayers are vast and varied. There is no monolith, no singularity. Therefore, one person’s practice may not be the same as another’s).

As part of the disinformation campaign here in Aotearoa, the Indian media platform Indian Newslink put up a press release from Hindu Youth. It says at the top of the article "Editor’s Note: The following is a Press Release. Indian Newslink is contacting Professor Mohan J Dutta of Massey University for an interview." There is no follow up to that statement. At the time of writing this post we asked Professor Dutta if Indian Newslink had asked him to comment. Professor Dutta said that the editor did a lengthy video interview with him that was never published! We, as members of AAPI, had written a counter response to the Hindu Youth press release that was also never published. We point out here that in carrying a propaganda piece by Hindutva, Indian Newslink ditched even their usual façade of journalistic ethics and note with grave concern that it has continued to carry the disinformation piece even a year after its propaganda has been thoroughly debunked.

The original post of the press release tagged Dr. Pushpa Wood, a Massey academic and community leader who positions herself as representing the Hindu community.


In an earlier analysis by AAPI activist Oscar Romero of the disinformation spread by Hindu Youth that we published on our platform, Romero argued,

“In conflating Hindutva with Hinduism, the Hindu Youth press release mirrors the strategy of Hindutva organizations in India and in other parts of the world, producing the smokescreen of Hinduphobia to silence the criticism of a fascist ideology.  They even throw in a term Hindumisia that is in vogue in the Hindutva twitter sphere.”

Hindumisia is another false construct; a neologism derived from Greek mȋsos or hatred. Consider the direct cut-and-paste of the Hindutva propaganda targeting the Dismantling Global Hindutva conference, by the Hindu Youth press release:

“What is more shocking is that Massey University is co-sponsoring a highly controversial and Hinduphobic Conference ‘Dismantling Global Hindutva,’ a Conference aimed at vilifying the global Hindu community. Many reputable University’s names have been tarnished because of the association of their department’s participation in this Conference. There have been numerous requests from various Universities globally to take down their logos, multiple edits to the ‘Dismantling Global Hindutva’ website as universities withdraw, a legal challenge from Harvard University for using its name to scam people. This is the kind of Conference that Massey University is co-sponsoring. Seeing Massey University endorse a Conference such as this is a blot on the legacy of the University and demonstrates the University’s endorsement of Hindumisia.”

Observe the disinformation spread by the Hindu Youth. For instance, contrary to their claim, the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University continued to remain a sponsor of the conference despite an aggressive hate campaign targeting it.

But returning to Dr. Wood, we wondered, why would someone that offers much rhetoric about interfaith and occupies spaces of interfaith in Aotearoa let themselves be tagged through their Facebook page to a Hindutva disinformation campaign and not decry it? Instead, Dr. Wood made a public Facebook post ( not currently publicly accessible so, it’s either deleted or turned to a private setting) about feeling aggrieved by Professor Dutta’s white paper, further sharing the disinformation-based propaganda posted by Hindu Youth. In her post referring to the white paper, Wood writes:

“Feeling under attack for being a Hindu…But for the first time in 40 years, I feel under attack for following my traditions, continuing with my cultural practices, which I feel are integral part of me!”

We point out here the fabrication that conflates Professor Dutta’s criticism of Cultural Hindutva with her personal expression of Hinduism.

So, we ask:

  • Does she think the Hindu religion and the fascist Hindutva ideology critiqued in the white paper are the same?
  • Does Dr. Wood identify herself and her religious traditions and cultural practices that she depicts as being attacked as Hindutva or Hinduism?

We wish to note here that some Hindus often describe Hinduism as a ‘way of life’, also conflated into Hindutva, which is Savarna (Hindu upper caste) code to kill any discussion about the caste system, about the misogyny, the patriarchy, and proto-fascist thinking denying reform.  A topic for another blog.

Dr. Wood’s obfuscation is what Professor Dutta describes as communicative inversion in his academic work; the process of turning the truth on its head. If Dr. Pushpa Wood does not identify as being part of Hindutva or the proto fascist ‘way of life’ inversion, then she had nothing to feel attacked about.

Dr. Wood then refers directly to the white paper and the New Zealand Herald article that outlined the hate Professor Dutta was receiving. She goes on to suggest that the Herald coverage of the hate targeting Professor Dutta was somehow leading her faith to be questioned.

Once again, both the Herald article and Professor Dutta’s white paper were explicitly discussing the far-right extremist ideology of Hindutva. So, unless Dr. Wood subscribes to the Hindutva ideology, she had nothing to be concerned about. It was the Islamophobia of Hindutva that was and should be questioned, and not Hinduism. In fact, Professor Dutta and the Herald article (including the subsequent articles and media interviews) go to great lengths to make this distinction. In his white papers and in his several media interviews, Professor Dutta painstakingly delineates the difference between the two concepts and states that Hindutva is a threat to the pluralism of Hinduism.

When this distinction is pointed out to Dr. Wood on her Facebook post, she ignores and disengages the comments posted.

In fact, the interfaith activist Joseph Thomas goes to great lengths to point out the targeting of Professor Dutta, himself a Hindu and the Hindutva strategy of conflating Hindutva with Hinduism. At this point, if we assume that she is still disavowing Hindutva, then as an academic at least she would have gone on to look at the links Joseph Thomas posted. Instead, she pressed on with the propaganda.

We note with alarm that in the public setting, the post played a key part in bringing in trolls, including the white Australian Hindu supremacist. (The Facebook account Malini Sara who takes credit for raising the issue is the same person as the white Australian Hindu supremacist  Twitter account @SarahLGates1] that started the campaign targeting Professor Dutta and propagated Islamophobia after the Leicester violence. In this instance, the account directly engages with the New Zealand politician and community leader Dr. Ashraf Choudhary, demonstrating how foreign interference works. It concerns us that someone actively spreading disinformation in this instance was invited to the Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism conference that directly emerged in response to the Christchurch terrorist attack driven by Islamophobic hate.

It is surprising that as an academic she did not:

  • publicly distance herself from disinformation or
  • show concern towards a fellow academic when over 100 world renowned academics were writing in support of Professor Dutta and CARE. We at AAPI created and circulated a petition in support of Professor Dutta that was signed by over 300 people. A number of Indian organisations including Bhagat Singh Charitable Trust, Hindus for Human Rights and Indian Association of Minorities of New Zealand, Guru Ravidass Sabha, Bombay Hill, New Zealand; Dr Ambedkar Sports and Culture Association, New Zealand; Dr Ambedkar Mission Society, New Zealand; and Begampura Sikh Temple, New Zealand. (It is powerful to witness the strong presence of Dalit and minority organisations in the support for Professor Dutta. Communities excluded by Hindu organisations.)
  • question comments by the white Australian Hindu supremacist who openly propagates violence and Islamophobia.

Later in an interview to Stuff in October 2021, Dr. Wood along with Manjit Grewal, each representing themselves as interfaith leaders, are witnessed stating:

“Both say no-one has ever raised concerns about Hindutva with them. They say New Zealand shouldn’t be importing other countries’ problems.”

The Stuff article notes,

“But, at the same time, they imply there is nothing to discuss.”

We find these claims by two community leaders presenting themselves to be leaders in the interfaith space (and by appearance, placing themselves to be experts in the space related to South Asia), disingenuous. One of AAPI’s activists Dr. Sapna Samant, a Hindu herself, raised concerns about Hindutva in 2007, which Dr. Wood should have been aware of as an interfaith leader and a Hindu. Indian Muslims, including Muslim community leaders, have been raising concerns about Hindutva and the Islamophobia attached to Hindutva in Aotearoa New Zealand for some time too.

Dr. Wood then goes on to offer the following criticism of Professor Dutta’s white paper:

“When we sit down to speak, along with Wellington Interfaith Council chairman Manjit Grewal, Wood has a list of points she wants to make about Dutta’s paper: it’s too short, it doesn’t give enough historical context, it does not delineate Hindutva from Hinduism, and the academic hasn’t been in the country long enough to be an expert.”

Two points to note here:

  • Her criticism that the paper does not delineate Hindutva from Hinduism is patently incorrect, with the paper offering detailed references to the literature on Hindutva.
  • For someone who draws on their credentials as an academic, saying “ the academic hasn’t been in the country long enough to be an expert” shine a light on her own lack of understanding about how academic expertise works. If this is Dr. Wood’s criterion of expertise then it is surprising that she feigns no knowledge of Hindutva after having lived in Aotearoa New Zealand for forty years and presented herself as a Crown expert on Indian culture! Not even after the Combined Threat Assessment Group identified Hindutva as Identity Motivated Violent Extremism (IMVE)!

We are concerned that Dr. Pushpa Wood continues to represent herself as voice in interfaith, countering violent extremism, and other spaces such as expert witness for the Crown on Indian culture while conflating Hinduism and Hindutva, while sharing a disinformation campaign led by Hindutva, while denying the presence of the fascist extreme right wing Hindu ideology in Aotearoa New Zealand in spite of clear evidence. We are concerned she associates with a white Australian Hindu supremacist figure who freely pushes violence and Islamophobia in the name of Hinduism. We are concerned that after a year since the campaign began and has been thoroughly debunked by academic experts globally, that she has not publicly removed herself from the disinformation campaign of Hindu Youth and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of New Zealand also known as the Hindu Council of New Zealand (the VHP was earlier named by the Central Intelligence Agency as religious militant organisation]).

As a collective of diverse Indians, we thus question her fitness in interfaith and countering violent extremism settings, and the lack of safety her presence creates, particularly for Indians of minority gender and faith identities.


We invite Dr. Wood to respond to this blog by writing to us on our page that AAPI will post verbatim on our website:

We ask,

  1. What is her current state of knowledge about Hindutva in India, globally and in Aotearoa New Zealand?
  2. Does she have a relationship with Hindutva organisations in India, globally and in Aotearoa New Zealand?
  3. Does she agree with or reject her association with the extremist Hindu propaganda piece from Hindu Youth that Indian Newslink published without any semblance of journalistic ethics and balance?
  4. Why did she write the Facebook post spreading the disinformation targeting a fellow academic critical of Hindutva while conflating Hinduism and Hindutva?
  5. If this was a mistake, will she apologise to Professor Dutta and to those Hindus who are critical of Hindutva?
  6. What does she propose is needed to counter Hindutva in Aotearoa New Zealand while working in the interfaith and countering violent extremism spaces now that the evidence about its presence is clear?
  7. Given that it is now well established that the disinformation campaign targeting Professor Dutta had imprints of foreign interference into academic freedom, will she publicly reject such interference?
  8. What safety does she guarantee those minority Indians in interfaith and counter terrorism spaces she associates herself with and condones the violent white Australian Hindu supremacist?




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Intimidation Hindutva Style.

It was the weekend of 12th-13th May 2007. The weekend of the 1st Hindu Conference of New Zealand to talk about "The contribution of Hindu community to the national life of New Zealand". 

Registration form for the 1st Hindu Conference NZ

My bullshit radar had been beeping non-stop since I came to know about it.

I grew up in Girgaon in old, conservative Mumbai. My maternal grandfather participated in the freedom struggle against the British and my paternal grandfather, a GP and a socialist, had been elected as a councillor in the first municipal elections of Mumbai held after independence. My father was part of the Samyukta Maharashtra Chalwal, a resistance movement to carve out the linguistic state of Maharashtra that included Bombay. The centre and business investors at that time wanted Bombay in Gujarat. It was a movement of working class, Marathi speaking people. My ancestors are from the west coast of the state, the paternal side from Bondiyal gaon (village), Tendoli, district Sindhudurg, Maharashtra, to be precise. The Samant surname is very specific and found only in two communities in India. Maharashtra and Bengal. We are fish eating, meat consuming Hindus. Even when we go visiting the temples of our village deity and the clan deity, we’ll eat the delicious fresh fish cooked the way only us Konkanis know. The only time my side of the Samant whānau becomes vegetarian is five days of the Ganpati festival when we bring home the idol. Although my grandmother was casteist (and I think my mother has some casteist practices in the kitchen), my grandfather did not believe in rigid religious practices, and instead regaled us with the vastness and diversity of Hinduism. It was about accepting and including.

We did not think Hindu fundamentalism could even exist. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) practiced their daily drill behind our building and VD Savarkar, the founder of Hindutva, the fascist ideology, was omnipresent. We did not see the rigidity, the dormant idea of a Hindu nation, the toxicity, the patriarchy, the indoctrination of youth or the deep hatred towards non-Hindu and caste oppressed Indians. My India was a society where all religions, castes and communities co-existed without needing to explain themselves. We all believed in this India.  

Until LK Advani, the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) started his Rath Yatra (Chariot Rally) in October 1990 with the intention of agitating Hindus across India to build a Ram temple in place of the Babri Masjid (mosque) in Ayodhya. The rally left a trail of violence everywhere it went. Being an avid newspaper reader, a habit encouraged by my grandfather, the meaning of Hindutva seeped into my consciousness. I remember Lalu Prasad Yadav, the chief minister of the state of Bihar denying them into his state. Lalu, who was treated like a village buffoon by the Indian English media. Then on 6th December 1992, the Babri Masjid was demolished by angry Hindu mobs setting off violent Hindu-Muslim riots across India. Even Mumbai, then known as Bombay, was badly affected. Innocent labourers were killed, pregnant women set alight in cars, shops looted, stripped bare of electric wires even. Our patients would come into the clinic and tell us stories about how they took weapons into Muslim localities at night and how Muslims ‘have violence in their blood’, the maha-aartis (very loud and crowded version of a devotional singing ritual) began in the smallest temples to assert Hindu identity, people started greeting each other with ‘Jai Shri Ram’, wearing marks on their foreheads symbolising their upper caste identities. One day rioters gathered around a friend’s building. Her Muslim father alone at home. I remember frantically calling my social networks on the old black dial telephone trying to get a contact high up to just send the bloody army that was patrolling the streets to her locality and scare off the Hindu men.

Then on 12th March 1993 a series of 12 bomb blasts exploded across Bombay a retaliation by mafia don Dawood Ibrahim. My sister was working at the Sea Rock Hotel at when a bomb went off there. She was/is fine. A cousin was working in the Air India building at Nariman Point and hit by shattering glass. He came into our clinic bleeding from his head and arm. I remember removing the shards meticulously and calmly.

All this for a Hindu nation?

In his book The Discovery of India, Jawaharlal Nehru describes India as a palimpsest. Hinduism is just one small part of a rich culture and society. Even the word Hindu isn’t from the land these extremists want to turn into a Hindu nation. It was given to us by those from the West of the Sindhu (Indus) river.

So when I saw an invitation for the 1st Hindu Conference of New Zealand, my radar went on high alert. That Aum, the saffron, the coded language. It was very familiar. I needed to confirm. Maybe I was wrong? No I was right. The saffron flags, the Aum, the scarves, the prayers, the salute, the clothes…this was Hindu extremist territory. What the heck were they doing in New Zealand?

I wrote about it. Here is an extract.

‘It is a pity. In the sixtieth anniversary of India’s independence when the Western world had not given her democracy one chance in hell she has lived through external and internal problems. Multiethnic, multilingual and multicultural India can lead the world in understanding pluralism and tolerance. Instead these Hindu fundamentalists constantly hark back to a mythical golden land and with their blinkered view are stuck in a 5000-year-old time zone. How does that help with living in present day New Zealand? When concepts like national identity and national life are problematic in themselves and require critical discussion, projections of a singular Hindu Indian identity in New Zealand is harmful to the Indian and mainstream community. It does not help with creating intercultural spaces and harmony nor does it assist policy-makers and government officials in any way. And politicians either don’t seem to understand or prefer to fudge contexts. Sir Barry Curtis called Manukau City the ‘Hindu capital of New Zealand’ at the opening ceremony. What did he mean by that? Did the Prime Minister mix up the ‘Hindoos’, the old Indian immigrants with the fundamentalist Hindus or was it deliberate to please Labour constituents? No wonder the stereotypes keep perpetuating.’

Michael Field of Fairfax was the only mainstream journalist who picked up my concerns about the presence of Hindu extremists in New Zealand and asked questions of Asia New Zealand Foundation, Helen Clark’s office and megarich businessman Vinod Kumar of the Hindu Council of New Zealand (the Indian businessman who is Managing Director of Nido according to his LinkedIn account and was previously the owner of a number of Mitre10 chains).

Darpan, a show on Triangle TV interviewed me.

That is when the intimidation began.

Hindu extremists have several techniques of intimidation.

1:- They get personal and demean you.

I was doxed, called a failed doctor, asked to change my religion. I was a single woman hence generally 'insignificant' plus an easy target for misogynist upper caste Hindu men.

2:- They entangle you in legal paperwork misusing democracic processes set up to maintain transparency. (Here is a recent example of how they inundated Massey University and Professor Mohan Dutta.) The vasudhaiva kutumbakam (the world is a family) spouting Vinod Kumar of the Hindu Council of New Zealand  complained to the Broadcasting Standards Authority that the interview ‘has seriously breached the broadcasting standards and in turn have caused a very serious damage to Hindu Council of New Zealand, the organisers and Hindus at large.’

 Same upright charming citizen called me a rapist at a meeting where he, the former New Zealand First Member of Parliament with ties to the Hindutva outfit Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Mahesh Bindra and few other ‘real Hindus’ had gathered to object to my input as a Hindu to a religious diversity organisation.

For all their denying,the Hindu Council of New Zealand IS the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), declared a militant organisation by the CIA. Here is a Twitter thread from Dr Audrey Truschke explaining more about the violence of VHP-America.

Look carefully at the definition of Hindu ‘developed in Bharat (i.e. India)is code for Islam and Christianity as coming from outside of India. Plus ‘a person calling himself Hindu’ is code for white supremacist converts to Hinduism; those that perpetuate Hindutva.

In August 2019 Narendra Modi was elected for his second term as the Prime Minister of India and he abrogated article 370 removing the special status of Kashmir, a long-disputed land on the subcontinent. A Muslim majority state that had been promised plebiscite which never materialised. There was a troubled period in the history of Kashmir where Kashmiri Hindus were killed by militants and that hurt needs to be addressed. Instead, by abrogating article 370, the Hindu extremists began their settler-colonial land grab. Kashmir is the most militarised region of the world. It also has had the longest internet blackout in a democracy.

Kashmiris in Auckland gathered that August to protest this move by the government of India and I spoke at the event.

Veer Khar, an ‘important’ Kashmiri Hindu man demanded to talk to me after and warned that I was ‘being watched’ by the Indian High Commission for hobnobbing with the ‘enemy’. He also called for a Muslim genocide a few months later in response to a protest some of us organised to highlight the Citizenship Amendment Act. Veer Khar has received up to $820, 000 of Crown funding towards a Diversity Centre in Papatoetoe! The irony.




Here is a report on Newshub about his threatening call.


Other techniques of intimidation Hindutva style are:

3:- To threaten reporting activities of Indians in the diaspora to the diplomatic mission so they fear
never being able to visit India.

4:- To label Indians protesting Hindutva as “fringe,” “anti-national,” “Hinduphobic,” “jihadist,”
“Communist” etc.

5:- Keep saying their opponents ‘have not read/don’t understand’

6:- To insist Indians that are critical of Modi and Hindutva are creating fake news

7:- To use sexual and other forms of violent abuse.


Finally, there is the threat of violence towards you on a global scale by ‘criminalising’ you within the Hindutva ecosystem. They call you anti-Hindu or Hinduphobic a made up word the equivalent of White Lives Matter; they dehumanise, belittle and decontextualise everything you do or say. They stalk you online.

Early this year a Hindu extremist website operating anonymously and linked to the Hindutva network in India and across the diaspora that has been deemed a hate site targeting critical voices posted my face and information on their home page with images of almost 200 tweets, the violent subtext of which is very clear.


They tweeted about it generating the standard reaction one gets from all kinds of supremacists.


Note the similarity of language across these Hindu extremists.

We also of course have this Australian white supremacist Hindutva adherent with no stake in India who is also an online stalker and incites violence globally.


The kind brown Hindutva elevates because brown Hindutva is still mentally enslaved by the British Raj just like VD Savarkar was. A recent tweet from the Australian white supremacist Hindutva adherent about Professor Mohan Dutta generated a death threat to him by a Hindu extremist. It is in Hindi and says 'Should we kill Datta sister? You only have to command.'

I have never engaged with any of the above except to draw attention to the hate and speak out about it, especially amidst the continual gaslighting by the various Crown ministries. My mahi is to highlight the presence of Hindutva in Aotearoa, how it is a danger to our democracy and how it disrupts social cohesion. (That the minister whose job it is to develop the social cohesion policy has never publicly acknowledged the presence of Hindutva in Aotearoa the topic of another blog.)

Below are screenshots of the article published on the SHHAN site. Notice how my critique about Hindutva is turned into a generic ‘against all Hindus’ argument. Notice the erasures of diversity and the rich history of intellectual debate within Hinduism, notice the singularity.

Notice the stalking again. As if there is a person/team dedicated to taking screenshots of my tweets and pressing the ‘generate outrage’ button. Notice the self-aggrandisement of Hindu extremists and inability to think about our society, our world, our universe and co-existence.



The disinformation and hate generated by Hindutva is very much present here in Aotearoa New Zealand and has been present here for over a decade. By being present at events of Hindutva
aligned organisations, by funding these organisations, and by lending credibility to the upper caste Hindutva supporting Indian men with economic power, the Crown has been a key player in enabling
the Hindutva ecosystem here.

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The Falsehoods Of The Hindutva Ecosystem In Aotearoa. Or, How’s That For Social Cohesion?

According to Gregory Stanton, the head of Genocide Watch, Islamophobic hate in India has reached genocidal proportions.

The film “The Kashmir Files” has further mobilized the hate ecosystem of Hindutva in India. This hate is evident in the mobs chanting slogans threatening violence toward Muslims. In cinemas, crowds of chanting people are seen calling for the killing and extermination of Muslims, for revenge to be taken against Muslims, and for Muslim women to be raped by Hindu men.

The film is set to release in Aotoearoa on 24 March 2022 and Muslim communities have voiced their concerns about security with the screening of the movie. These concerns should be read in the context of the trauma experienced by Muslims in Aotearoa on 15 March 2019 with the Christchurch terrorist attack. These concerns should also be looked at from the perspective of the Indian and Kashmiri Muslim whānau with Islamophobic genocidal hate being targeted towards them by Hindutva in India and in the diaspora.

David Shanks, the chief censor, is reviewing the film’s classification as standard procedure in response to these concerns. This review has allegedly delayed the scheduled launch date of the film on March 24.

And this delay, much like any potential critical evaluation of the Hindutva propaganda ecosystem, has become the target of disinformation. Within two days.

On March 18, the director of the film, Vivek Agnihotri, a Hindutva ideologue, tweeted:


See here how a legitimate process in Aotearoa is undermined and called an ‘undemocratic tactic’ while labelling the Muslim community ‘radical’.

The tweet as picked up and mobilized by Hindutva adherent Twitter accounts and Facebook pages in Australia and New Zealand. The Facebook page, “Hindus in NZ” that circulates Islamophobic hate, started mobilizing Hindus in New Zealand to speak up.


Hindutva’s resident white supremacist Sara L Gates jumped in to add her two bits, ironically mocking herself. She has mobilised Islamophobic hate before and has trolled Professor Mohan Dutta for a white paper he wrote on cultural Hindutva.


Three petitions were started over the weekend that continued to perpetuate Islamophobia.


Agnihotri tweeted one petition.



This tweet generated Islamophobic responses:

                                                            It means Lord Ram will rule and mocks a famous Pakistani protest poem.                 

Opportunistic politicians jumped in just like they did with the anti-vax campers in Wellington. Winston Peters posted on Facebook:   




The post states, “The film is about true and real events surrounding the 1990 ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Kashmir and today over 400,000 Kashmir Pandits remain in exile after 32 years.  To censor this film is tantamount to censoring information or images from the March 15th atrocities in New Zealand, or for that matter removing from public knowledge all images of the attack on 9/11.”

Note here the deployment of disinformation to set up the propaganda. The post is shared by Mahesh Bindra, a former New Zealand First politician with close ties to the Hindutva hate organisation, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

The post is picked up by right-wing Hindutva ideologues across the Indian diaspora in Aotearoa New Zealand. One such post made by Saten Sharma and tagging the Minister of Ethnic Communities, Priyanca Radhakrishnan, among others:



The issue was also picked by right-wing party ACT.

David Seymour of ACT states here:

“The Kashmir Files is clearly controversial for some New Zealanders, but New Zealand is a country committed to freedom of expression. Furthermore, the film is widely regarded as being based on facts and has being defended by Indian Prime Minister Narandra (sic) Modi as such.

It appears some complainants have had the film censored but answer to uncomfortable issues is not censorship. The New Zealand Government should not try to resolve foreign disputes by censoring one side in favour of the other. If you come to New Zealand, you accept New Zealand values such as free speech.”

Observe here the way in which Seymour draws on the right-wing hate propaganda of Hindutva, in the form of the defense of the film by Narendra Modi, who has previously been condemned by global rights community for his alleged role in the Gujarat pogrom that led to the murder of over 2000 Muslims. His government has indiscriminately jailed activists, journalists, artists and whoever opposes his regime.

Another conservative MP, Melissa Lee of the National Party, chipped in.


Note this meeting ground of the malcontents flying the flag of supremacy over the bogey of free speech and Seymour calling it a ‘New Zealand value’. Note also how the anxiety of the Indian Muslim community in Aotearoa is not even acknowledged.

Facts don’t matter in the Hindutva propaganda structures, and the disinformation infrastructures of right-wing political parties such as New Zealand First and ACT draw on the propaganda to fuel divisions in Aotearoa New Zealand.

In a Facebook video, Mr. Roy Kaunds, a right-wing media mouthpiece with known links to the far-right white supremacist communication networks of Alps and De Ment, (see our piece here) asks

“What the hell does David Shanks know about the Kashmir genocide? Has he studied it? He goes and makes some rubbish statements…this David Shanks appears to be a complete idiot.” He also calls the chief censor a “total, incompetent, nincompoop idiot”.

Muktesh Pardeshi, the Indian High Commissioner, in an interview with Indian Weekender, states, “If it is not creating disharmony in India, why should it create disharmony in New Zealand?”

The lie “There has been no issues anywhere….” moves from the right-wing propaganda networks to the attempts at influencing regulatory decisions in Aotearoa by the representative of a foreign government.

These interpenetrating networks of hate overtly seem to target a regulatory body following due process in response to real concerns expressed by a traumatised community but the real aim is to attack the government. Even as we write, the Indian Weekender, which received funding of $750,000 over three years for four journalists under the Public Interest Journalism Fund but never carries the NZOA logo or mentions PIJF, is opining on free speech and censorship while implying the classification board is being influenced by unknowns. Typical conspiracy rhetoric.

In the climate of disinformation that is being seeded and circulated by right-wing groups in Aotearoa New Zealand, it is crucial for politicians to actively and critically speak out against it. On one hand, we are disappointed by the politicians of right-wing political parties such as ACT and New Zealand First. On the other hand, we are concerned by the silence of Indian-origin politicians of Labour, MPs Gaurav Sharma and Priyanca Radhakrishnan.




Unlike their Māori and tagata Moana colleagues who speak up about issues in their communities, the Indian MPs seem to be sitting on the fence about the disinformation tactics used by the Hindutva ecosystem to not only perpetuate hate, but also target the government and Prime Minister. We are concerned especially since the Ministry of Ethnic Communities touts their social cohesion project as a response to the Christchurch terror attack.


*We acknowledge the pain and trauma of Kashmiri Pandits and their stories deserve to be told such they are healing and restorative.






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Erasures, Untruths And Ethics


Hindutva media in the diaspora: The double speak of Indian Newslink

Hindutva in the diaspora needs to be tactically savvy in order to disseminate its hate politics and seed disinformation while simultaneously performing inclusive multiculturalism to be accepted by the Pākeha (and tangata whenua). It must make sure that it speaks the language of democracy and rights in the diaspora while erasing alternative voices and perpetuating untruths

The local Indian media in Aotearoa is complicit such that it not only amplifies Hindutva but also disregards journalistic ethics.

Let’s look at Indian Newslink.

This is the Indian media platform, claiming to be the diaspora’s oldest platform, that carried the disinformation and hate targeting Professor Mohan Dutta spread by Hindu Youth in the form of a press release.

When it first carried the piece, the platform tagged Hindu community ‘leaders’ whose names started disappearing as we, along with other progressive Indian diaspora organizations, started pushing back at the disinformation spread by the Hindu Youth.

When AAPI submitted a counter letter to Indian Newslink, we never heard back from the editor.

On Saturday 26 February, AAPI held a protest in solidarity with hijabi Indian Muslim women in the Indian state of Karnataka.

It was a gathering of all Indians, centred around Indian Muslim women, to protest and expand the sisterhood. 

Indian Newslink carried a report:

An unethical report full of erasure and untruth.

It says the protest took place after a march. Which is not true.

The article then goes on to say that it was ‘a result of an incident that sparked widespread protest in the South Indian State of Karnataka and another, seemingly related incident at the Otago Girls’ High School based in Dunedin.’ This is pure conjecture, conflation and trickery.

Finally, ALL the photos in this report have been grabbed from AAPI’s Facebook page without permission.

Let’s break this down.


Aotearoa Alliance of Progressive Indians is a group of Indians critiquing and questioning the erosion of democracy in India since 2019. While local Indian media focuses on endorsing the Hindu-isation of India, AAPI’s role is to shine a light on the vital, pluralistic, democratic, socialist, secular republic that India is and can be.

By not acknowledging the organisers of this protest event, Indian Newslink obliterates the diverse voices registered through AAPI. Much like Hindutva leaders who occupy the spaces of power and control in the Indian diaspora, all the diaspora Indian media aligned with Hindutva actively works to erase various progressive views from the community that challenge the misogynist hate politics of Hindutva. This enables narrative monopoly to project the Indian diaspora as a singularity.

The erasure of gender diverse communities, women, Dalits, Muslims, and progressive socio-political organizations in the diaspora is integral to upholding the structure of the Indian diaspora as a conservative space controlled by upper caste, economically solvent, largely Hindu men.

By presenting individual voices of Indian Muslim women participating in the protests it not only otherises them but also removes supportive infrastructures that anchor the multiple identities we have as Indians and mobilise against the politics of Hindutva.

 Thus, singling out and individualising protest participants with words such as ‘featured women from the South Indian State of Karnataka’ reifies the power of the Hindutva surveillance state. And invisibilizing the organisers maintains that power.


The article begins with false information. That there was a march before the protest.

Then it mischievously states, “The protest was a result of an incident that sparked widespread protest in the South Indian State of Karnataka and another, seemingly related incident at the Otago Girls’ High School based in Dunedin.” This construction is devoid of the framing of the overarching Islamophobia that drives the attack on women’s right to wearing hijab both in Karnataka and Dunedin. It intentionally conflates the purpose of the protest as overreach. In fact, nowhere does the article mention Hindutva or the white supremacy that breeds Islamophobia culminating in violence on Muslim women’s bodies.


Indian Newslink calls itself a news media platform but fails key ethical and legal journalistic principles by publishing photographs from AAPI’s Facebook page without acknowledgment.

This loops back to the erasure. Because to seek permission to publish the photos, Indian Newslink would have to contact AAPI and by contacting AAPI it means recognising the collective and having to answer questions about the purpose of this article. It means not lying about a march or individualising and otherising Indian Muslim women, it means not conflating. It means Indian Newslink would be required to do due diligence.

None of which is obligatory while working in the Hindutva space yet exert their privilege to do a report on the protest.

AAPI received an email from the editor of Indian Newslink after the protest was over demanding to know more about the protest.


It clearly demonstrates the lack of due diligence and the entitlement of local Indian media. A report about the protest ticks the box about ‘balance’, that Indian Newslink does indeed make space for ‘others’. But how does a journalist do their research? How do they use language to frame issues? Is this email ordering AAPI to explain why the protest was organised?

This insidious game of speaking from both sides enables Hindutva media in the diaspora to cozy up to politicians, be in their good books, and curry favours. The politicians too (particularly from parties posturing progressive politics) can conveniently align with the Hindutva media, pointing to the platform’s coverage of a protest against the attack on Muslim women’s right to wear the hijab.




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On The Hijab Ban (2)

Two Indian Muslim women living in Aotearoa have offered their opinion on the hijab ban in Karnataka, India.

Both writers wish to remain anonymous for the obvious reason of safety. For themselves and whanau. AAPI appreciates that they took time to write.

Here is the second article:

Victims In Their Game.

 I’m seeing a theme here. It’s a theme that has existed my whole life that is showing no sign of slowing down. That is the question of a Muslim girl’s right to education. New Zealand has been confronted with this question last week. Who deserves safety on school grounds?

There are gaps in how this theme is explored in mainstream conversations. Almost always with Muslim men portrayed as ones removing Muslim women from their rights, and almost never as non-Muslim men doing the same thing. From France to India, Muslim women are being denied the ability to receive their education while being dressed in a way that is authentic, meaningful, and comfortable for them. Neither of these countries are Muslim countries. In fact, they are countries which have launched campaigns specifically designed to alienate and disenfranchise their Muslim populations. Why then do images of ‘extremism’ in these countries not pop into our heads when we merge the words ‘Muslim girls’ and ‘education’?

I must disclose here that I am a Muslim woman of Indian heritage. I do not wear hijab except for prayer, when at the mosque, or at a dawat where it’s appropriate to do so. This decision can change at any time and if it does, I can’t imagine why it would impact on my ability to do my job, further my education, or make my own choices in life.

This is the piece that is always missing in conversations about hijab; bodily autonomy. Forcing a woman to dress in a way that is not authentic to them is peak misogyny, whether that is in or out of a hijab. Too often, we focus on one more than the other at the detriment of millions of women who proudly wear their hijab.

It cuts deeper when we talk about India. This is a country where all religions have coexisted for centuries as friends and neighbours, celebrating each other’s festivals, and eating from each other’s plates. All that makes our region beautiful and unique is being stripped away as Muslims continue to be lynched and denied education.

The denial of education is key because education IS the key. To educate a woman is to educate a nation. To deny a woman education is to deny her and her community the opportunity to rise, seek their own conclusions about the world around them, and challenge them. And nothing can challenge oppression and extremism more than an educated woman who so boldly wears her faith for the world to see, empowered by her relationship with her Lord. 

The schools in Karnataka who are denying entry to women in hijab claim the hijab is a distraction. I can’t imagine how. What they really mean is that they understand the damage this will cause the girls - psychological, emotional, and therefore their grades - and are acting on enforcing that damage.  

And so, the theme continues. They disrespect Muslim women by not giving them credit to make their own lives, and then use them to further their own political and extremist agenda. In the end we all lose because, and this needs repeating, to educate a woman is to educate a nation.


Image courtesy @nabihaiderali via Twitter

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On The Hijab Ban (1)

Two Indian Muslim women living in Aotearoa have offered their opinion on the hijab ban in Karnataka, India.

Both writers wish to remain anonymous for the obvious reason of safety. For themselves and whanau. AAPI appreciates that they took time to write.

Here is the first article:

What’s The Purpose?

The recent happenings in the Indian state of Karnataka over the ban of hijab in education centres calls for an examination and overhaul of the current policies in the country that are setting the stage for rapid self-destruction of a mighty nation. The purpose behind the uniform may be with good intentions: The wearers cannot be discriminated based on their cultural or religious identity and unisex uniforms may be intended at preventing gender-based discrimination. However, the whole idea of a uniform appearance across any given premise is nonsensical because people do not need to hide their identity. They need to show their identity proudly and not be discriminated against for who they are.

“Unity in diversity” is a badge that India likes to wear but ironically, diversity has always been under a constant threat. A country like India with its history and diversity spanning across millennia does not need leftist or rightist governments to set the platform for any futuristic dialogue. The current need of the hour is a centred approach which allows its citizens the net of safety, protection, progress, and freedom guaranteed by its constitution.

Indians are naturally deeply religious and spiritual people. Many nations started off as religious but chose worldly progress over time and religion took a backstage ideally serving as a personal choice. In India, religion is very much alive and is on the forefront of every political agenda. Religion has sadly been used to deepen the divides among its citizens. The best assets of any organisation are its human resources. The Indian government has chosen to sadly lose this potential rather than build on it. The few advancements that India can boast of today are way below expectations for a country that has been independent for more than seventy years and for a country that has had a very vast set of resources at its disposal. Globalisation has proved that Indians thrive as model citizens wherever they go and where their fundamental rights and freedoms of expressions are not challenged at every turn.

The constant battle of survival faced by Indian citizens of lower castes, different religions, and women in general can now no longer be ignored. The systematic harassment where communities are marginalised and targeted render the Indian democracy as a gross humanitarian failure. The apparent notion of establishing an ethnocratic nation is far from ideal. It is extremely hard to imagine the result without worry: A hypocritical society where socio-economic success belongs to only a certain subset of people. “The world is one family” ideology has no room in the current environment. Access to elemental needs and progress must not be determined by people’s socio-economic status, looks, language, culture, and gender. The state policies should not be designed based on exclusion in the name of uniformity. Such policies should be completely overhauled and redesigned based on absolute inclusivity and freedom from bias. In a parallel universe, the Karnataka State Government had the choice to amend the said uniform act to make it inclusive to all thus becoming a role model for a progressive India, no?Image

 Image courtesy @BagchiAsh via Twitter

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The Only Language They Know.

Sharing here a post by Balamohan Shingade that he wrote for the CARE website in which he talks about how Indian News, a local outlet that is a Hindutva mouthpiece, reacted to an article in the NZ Herald where they interviewed him. We commend Balamohan for his bravery and for standing up to Hindutva bullies.

AAPI's blog is a register for resistance against all forms of Hindutva extremism in Aotearoa. This includes anti-Black and anti-Maori racism.

Thinly-veiled threats: A response to The Indian News by Balamohan Shingade

on February 17, 2022

by Balamohan Shingade


The Indian News Editor interviewing mainstream politicians in Aotearoa

I’ve just received a thinly-veiled threat from an Auckland outlet called the Indian News.

It's in response to the story I'd shared with the Herald on being the target of a conspiracy theory by a Hindutva (Hindu Nationalism) platform, which tried to establish a link between me and the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence. (See Aotearoa Alliance of Progressive Indians's website for more on the conspiracy theory, part of a far-right strategy of propagating hate).

Today's piece in the Indian News (February 17th, 2022) is built around a key deceit. In reference to the Herald report, the editor-in-chief writes that the Herald "has quoted some staged, fake narratives of a couple of gullible anti-Hindu and anti-India left leaning youngsters. [...] it only confirms any doubts of some bigger and nefarious designs working behind the scenes, against Hindus and the Indian nation."

Nope. You'd hope a newspaper that calls itself "New Zealand's most trusted Indian media group" would contact its subjects and check the story. But actually, it's a routine part of their "journalism." The quotes the Herald draws on are from recorded interviews with two researchers, both of us Indian origin youth in the diaspora, which are portrayed by the Indian News as “staged”.

As an aside, are we gullible or nefarious? They're two quite opposite things... the first presumes we're "youngsters" being manipulated by some anti-Hindu, and by extension, anti-India force, whereas the second suggests we're larger-than-life puppeteers doing the manipulating.

How is it that the Indian News feels emboldened to circulate disinformation when the New Zealand Media Council upheld two complaints against them late last year for breaching ethical standards of journalism? The Media Council wrote of one of the complaints, "Comment should not cross the line into personal abuse, nor should it undermine trust in a publication's ability to distinguish fact from opinion, or robust debate from abusive personal attack. In this case the Council believes The Indian News has crossed that line."

When the Media Council's rulings aren't holding much water, what's left to do? Of course, we'll follow the complaints process... but friends, what else?

It is clear that the Indian News is an important platform for Hindutva groups in Aotearoa New Zealand. In fact, their editor-in-chief is part of the Coalition of Hindus who organised an online petition in November last year to promote fascist ideologues like M. S. Golwalkar, who wrote in 1939, "Germany shocked the world by purging the country of the Semitic Races – the Jews. [...] a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.” And he sits as a trustee at one of Auckland’s most important temples, the Bharatiya Mandir.

The threat in the Indian News to those who dissent against the divisive politics of Hindutva is characteristic of its chauvinism: "The harsh reality this nexus miserably fails to recognise is, that India and its majority population are not the same anymore. They do not take any nonsense, anymore from anyone whether in India or in overseas."

The funny thing is, friends: This is all in response to my fairly innocuous Facebook posts and that single interview with the Herald. I've made very little of my ethnographic studies on Hindu Nationalism available to anyone outside my research team. 

The Indian News continues to attempt a nastily tight grip on who gets to represent the ‘Indian community’ in Aotearoa New Zealand. They do so using intimidation and issuing diktats, all the while patting themselves on the back for serving “Indian and multicultural communities,” and collecting endorsements from MPs of major political parties and ‘community leaders.’ No wonder then that so many Indian youth of Aotearoa New Zealand find platforms such as the Indian News to be importing the worst of the regressive patriarchal nationalism ripping through India today. And in their dominating presence in our media landscape, speaking out is risky. But as my quote ran in the Herald: “The danger is if you don’t find your voice, other people will find it for you.”  And it is clear from today’s op-ed that the Indian News wishes to do just that.

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Petitioners endorse Hindu supremacists V. D. Savarkar and M. S. Golwalkar: The circulation of Hindutva in Aotearoa New Zealand

In its latest avatar, the Hindutva campaign targeting academic freedom, initiated by Hindu Youth and Hindu Council, has taken the form of an online petition. Having failed at their earlier attempts to silence academic freedom, the campaigners in their desperation are attempting to recruit Hindus to their hateful ideology by once again strategically conflating the fascist ideology of Hindutva with Hinduism. 

As on the week of November 8th, 2021, a petition by Coalition of Hindus of New Zealand has begun on the website with the title “Support Hindu Community to have the freedom to follow cultural practices of Hindu Dharma.” The petition is intended “to New Zealand Parliament,” and the petitioners, “ask Massey University and its employee Professor Mohan J Dutta to cease and desist from such activities [...].” Their reference is to Prof. Dutta’s scholarship, including the publishing of a white paper in May 2021 titled Cultural Hindutva and Islamophobia. In this paper, Professor Dutta explains how narratives of Hindu supremacy help to prop-up a sense of pride in the Indian diaspora, and how this pride is intertwined with the circulation of Islamophobia.

Among the many pieces of disinformation in the petition, the worst is the whitewashing of the Hindu supremacists V. D. Savarkar and M. S. Golwalkar. The petition mentions the founders of Hindutva, Savarkar and Golwalkar, and what’s more, they ascribe to these two men the honorific “Sri”. The petitioners’ claim is that the writings of Savarkar and Golwalkar do not mention the narrative of Hindu supremacy, and accuse Professor Dutta of misrepresentation.

Savarkar, who was the inventor of the term Hindutva and the founder of the movement, clearly stated that Hindutva is not Hinduism. In his text Essentials of Hindutva (1923), he rejected the term Hinduism and along with it the pluralistic religion it describes. As he wrote, “If there be any word of alien growth it is this word Hinduism and so we should not allow our thoughts to get confused by this new fangled term.” Instead, Savarkar vigorously promoted Hindutva and its core political objective of crafting India as a “Hindu Rashtra” (Hindu Nationalism). In the words of Savarkar, “a Hindu Rashtra where some Indians will be more equal than others.” In an interview in 1944 (here), Savarkar was asked by an American war correspondent, “How do you plan to treat Mohammedans?” Savarkar replied, “As a minority, in the position of your Negroes.” The fundamental value of racial inequality (jati) advocated by Savarkar is in order to create the idea of Hindu supremacy, which continues to form the basis of Hindutva today. 

As Vinay Lal puts it (here) in his analysis of Savarkar’s contribution to 20th Century anti-colonial movement in South Asia, “Savarkar imbibed the worst of Western political and social traditions, and his warped ideas about race superiority, the survival of the fittest, and the nation as a “blood entity”, so to speak, were derived from the most objectionable strands of Western thinking. [...] If Savarkar is at all to be remembered, let it not be forgotten that as Nathuram Godse plotted to take Mahatma Gandhi’s life, Savarkar blessed him and wished him success in his God-given task.” The Hindutva ideology formed the ecosystem that led to the murder of Mahatma Gandhi.

Similarly, consider the writings of Golwalkar from his 1939 book: “German race pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by purging the country of the Semitic Races – the Jews. [...] a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.” In Golwalkar’s writings, it is clear to see how the ideology of Hindutva (Hindu Nationalism) was developed through sustained interaction with ideologues in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

Hindutva is a supremacist force based on aggressive and strategic deformations of Hinduism, and an organized attack on the pluralistic character of India and its diaspora. Fascist in the classical sense, Hindutva threatens to strip the subcontinent of its pluralism and syncretism, of its many cultures and creeds. What’s more, the political ideology of Hindu Nationalism is opposed to and indeed aims to undo the secular foundations of India. Indeed, Hindutva is a global threat as it destroys all forms of stability in the subcontinent with repercussions far beyond.

We reiterate that Hindutva is not the same as Hinduism, and the false conflation of the two is a deliberate strategy of Hindutva, which aims to spread disinformation based on distortion, manipulation and obfuscation. (We have written about the difference between Hinduism and Hindutva in significant detail in our open letter on October 3rd, here).

To continue the narrative that the two are the same thing shows clearly that the organisers of the petition are aligned with the poisonous ideology of Hindutva. It is plain to see that the petitioners, and each signatory that endorses V. D. Savarkar and M. S. Golwalkar, are Hindutva-aligned, seeking to further circulate the ideology of Hindutva hate in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Given the abundance of evidence on the difference between Hindutva and Hinduism, for the organisers of this petition to continue to pursue the narrative that the two are the same is a deliberate attempt to prop up their supremacist ideology. They have made this abundantly visible in their attempt to whitewash Hindu supremacists. Savarkar and Golkwalkar are to Indians what Adolf Hitler was to Germans and the world. Therefore, petitioning the democratic parliament of Aotearoa New Zealand to support falsehoods about Hinduism, and to further push Hindu supremacists as idols is a very dangerous exercise. It should not be summarily dismissed as a silly attempt out of desperation, but rather should be read as a Hindu supremacist propaganda that should be surveilled on an ongoing basis. We should be gravely concerned that these forces of hate feel so emboldened to target the New Zealand parliament, much like we should be concerned by the attempts of Trump supporters and QAnon conspiracy theorists in attacking the New Zealand democracy.


Screenshot from the petition, accessed 10 November:


In the context of the petition, the one-off and contextless mention of Professor Zaheer Baber’s article Religious Nationalism, Violence and the Hindutva Movement in India (2000) demonstrates the petitioners’ persistent misreading and misrepresentation of scholarly work. Baber’s work is precisely on the violence of Hindutva. Here is an extract from Baber’s passages mentioning Savarkar:



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The History Of Resisting Hindutva In Aotearoa

Resistance to hate does not bloom overnight but is nurtured and sustained by the spirit of activists who constantly question and disrupt the narratives of supremacy crafted by the brokers of that hate. In Aotearoa New Zealand, the Hindutva ideology has been challenged on an ongoing basis by activists, who have continually shone a light on their agendas of divisiveness. In 2007, the Hindu Council, an organisation attached to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a militant Hindu religious entity, held an inaugural event, titled “Contribution of Hindu community to the national life of New Zealand.” The event, with funding from the Asia:NZ Foundation, was attended by then Prime Minister Helen Clark and mayor of Manukau City Barry Curtis. We are re-publishing a blog post written by one of the co-founders of AAPI, Dr. Sapna Samant, after attending this event in 2007. It was published on the site in 2008. The blog post and the ensuing exchange show how concerns were raised over a decade ago about the agenda of the Hindu Council to impose a monolithic agenda and the project seeking to speak for all Hindus in Aotearoa.


We must remember and document this history of resistance challenging Hindutva especially as Crown structures have deliberately ignored evidence confirming the fascism of this ideology, perhaps to accommodate conveniently the vote bank politics of the ruling parties


The current campaign organized by the Hindu Council targeting Professor Dutta, CARE, and Massey University is reflective of this hate ideology of the Hindu Council Dr. Samant had presciently warned against. The Hindu Council does not speak for Hindus in Aotearoa New Zealand but propagates a supremacist upper caste idea of India. Therefore it certainly does not speak for Indians in Aotearoa New Zealand.


We reject its divisive politics and urge the Crown to actually stand behind its rhetoric of social cohesion. It is not enough for Minister Radhakrishnan to just give statements acknowledging their presence while not actively renouncing the fascism and supremacy.




"Saffron flags emblazoned with Aum fluttered in the afternoon sunlight as I made my way towards the venue of 1st Hindu Conference in New Zealand on 12 May. The alarm bells in my head rang loud and clear. This was fundamentalist territory. The Hindu Conference was organised by The Hindu Council. A sophisticated arm of the Hindu extremist parties like the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad). Its cousins being the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and the militant Bajrang Dal. The alarm bells had triggered off ever since I got the press release that invited participants and said that this was not a religious or philosophical conference. Delegates would be vetted and allowed only if they had any contributions to make (read no troublemakers). ...."   



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Why Is The High Commission Of India In Aotearoa Spreading Disinformation?

Hate works through the seeding of disinformation. The creation and circulation of disinformation propels this agenda in the hate factories of India.

Those that spread hate profit from repetition of disinformation. Those that produce hate bank on the idea that if you repeat the disinformation enough number of times, it will somehow stick.

Unfortunately, it seems the High Commission of India has fallen into the same trap.

In an article, “Indian diplomats weigh in on Hindutva spat”, published by Newsroom, the High Commission of India defends its decision to share a disinformation-based video piece done by Roy Kaunds 4and published on Apna TV.

In an earlier analysis, we had shared how Kaunds repeats the lie targeting Prof. Mohan Dutta’s white paper “Cultural Hindutva and Islamophobia,” accusing the paper of attacking Hindus. We noted then:

“Primary among the insidious narratives Kaunds employs is the false conflation of Hindutva (Hindu Nationalism) with Hinduism, Hindu peoples, and Indian New Zealanders in order to obfuscate, distort the matter of facts, and ultimately aims to silence the critique of Hindutva. Kaunds’ report is unjustifiable. It misconstrues what is at stake in NZ Herald’s articles and the scholarship of Prof. Dutta, which is the unmistakable presence of Hindutva (Hindu Nationalism) in Aotearoa New Zealand, and the circulation of Islamophobia.”

In multiple analyses since the white paper came under attack by Hindutva ideologues, we have pointed out categorically that the attacks have been driven by this strategic conflation of Hindutva and Hinduism, meant to serve the Hindutva agenda.

In another analysis of the initial press release by Hindu Youth that started the campaign targeting Prof. Dutta and CARE, we pointed out the mischief being played by Hindu Youth to strategically confuse the audience, accusing a criticism of Hindutva as a criticism of Hinduism and by extension, an attack on all Hindus in New Zealand:

“The only false equivalence at play is in the press release of Hindu youth council, a nugatory exercise to equate Hindutva and Hindu Nationalism with Hinduism and Hindus. Projecting this lie allows Hindu Youth then to play victim, throw in the label Hinduphobia, and then demand apology.”

We had asked Hindu Youth, a recipient of crown funding, to “explain their position with regard to the right-wing political ideology of Hindutva.”

In another analysis of the campaign being orchestrated by the Hindu Council (international arm of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, recognised earlier as a militant extremist organisation by the CIA and part of the Hindutva structure), we showed how the campaign targeting CARE was carrying out the Hindutva agenda.

We were not surprised when we saw Roy Kaunds generate and amplify this disinformation. After all, he is the producer of Talanoa Sa’o and appears on the platform Counterspin Media founded by the key architect of disinformation in the West, Steve Bannon, voicing hate content targeting Māori and spreading disinformation in Aotearoa.

But we were shocked and disappointed that the High Commission of India shared the video. We had noted:

“That the HCI shared this video is deeply alarming since this official body is supposed to be aligned with the Constitution of India. However, the HCI’s active endorsement of Kaunds’ video is seen as a signal that the HCI intends to shift away from a commitment to the principles of secularism, which is at the heart of both the Indian and New Zealand democracies. Instead, it demonstrates the HCI’s complicity in the promotion of a “Hindu Rashtra,” as envisaged by the ideologues of Hindtuva such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Vishva Hindu Parishad.”

Rather than reflect on its decision in the interview to the Newsroom, the High Commission decided to repeat the same disinformation that has been targeting Prof. Dutta. The High Commission stated that the Apna TV clip was shared “with the objective of promoting understanding and [a] balanced point of view”, arguing the video was not critical of Dutta’s work but “tried to remove some misconceptions about Hindus living in New Zealand”. It is concerning when the High Commission has to resort to a disinformation-laden view to give a 'balanced' point of view.

The spokesperson of the High Commission then goes on to state that most people of Indian origin were hurt by Prof. Dutta’s white paper, which it frames as “selective and one-sided in depiction of the truth” and accuses it of having “attacked the entire Hindu community”. Observe here how the same lie that is distributed by the online trolls, Hindu Youth, and Hindu Council is also repeated by the High Commission purporting to speak on behalf of all Hindus in a monolithic voice to produce this false account of hurt. Framing a white paper on Hindutva as attacking the entire Hindu community.

The facts are, many Hindus are deeply concerned about Hindutva and its hate politics that is spreading here in Aotearoa and fanning divisiveness. Many of these Hindus, including several of us, are concerned about our own safety, security, and access to India, to be able to speak up against the Hindutva organisations and the High Commission.

We ask, has the High Commission spoken to all Hindus living in Aotearoa? We ask, is it the High Commission’s role to go against the Constitution of India? We ask if the High Commission of India has actually made an effort to listen to the voices of Indian minorities who have been raising publicly, including on the High Commission’s own page, concerns about Islamophobia and Hindutva?

The spokesperson adds, “People who disrupt this harmonious relationship existing between the communities by hate speech or provocative statements should not be encouraged.”

Let’s break down this statement carefully. One is the irony of the insinuation here, that an academic analysis and accompanying media reports documenting Hindutva, a fascist ideology driven by hate, are labelled as hate speech and provocative.

Second, the use of the word harmonious. It is fascist code for order. An order that does not allow the questioning of authority and where conformity is considered ‘peace’. For the High Commission, Indian migrants living ‘in harmony’ in Aotearoa means not only not showing concern about their people suffering under Hindutva, but also not engaging with democracy and the right to dissent while benefiting from it at the same time. It implies keeping your head down (*unless it is to cry anti-Indian racism only against themselves).

Seeking validation from colonial whiteness and upholding the power of that whiteness is a deep desire of Hindutva. VD Savarkar, the Hindutva idol, wrote multiple petitions to the British, seeking mercy and promising not to oppose the colonial government. While he may has started out as a violent ‘revolutionary’, provoking others to kill British officials, he could not face jail himself and chickened out. That pardon from the British, and the subsequent loyalty to them has continued within Hindutva adherents to this day.

It seems that the harmonious relationship the High Commission seeks is the Hindutva version where the diaspora voices of Muslims experiencing Islamophobia or Sikhs facing hatred and violence will be erased or will have to get into line with the Hindutva ideologues.

Finally, the High Commission fails to recognise the long history of protest and struggle for social justice by the tangata whenua of Aotearoa, groups like the Polynesian Panthers and the mass opposition to the Springbok Tour. Resistance that has had Indian allies.

Thus, for the High Commission, a harmonious relationship is a suppliant relationship. Of silencing dissent against the toxic forces of Hindutva.

The irony takes the cake toward the end of the article where the High Commission states it does not support the online trolls who have harassed and continue to harass Prof. Mohan Dutta, and places the onus on New Zealand authorities “to investigate any allegations about Hindutva and Islamophobia in the country”. Here it seems, the High Commission does understand the concepts of Hindutva and Islamophobia and seeks to distance itself from the online trolls.

If that is indeed the case, and the High Commission does understand the concepts of Hindutva and Islamophobia, why is it propagating disinformation based on a lie that paints a critical analysis of Hindutva as an attack on all Hindus in Aotearoa? The High Commission must recognise that it feeds the armies of trolls when it regurgitates the disinformation being spread by the Hindutva machinery.

More importantly, given the evidence that has now emerged of the presence of Hindutva and Islamophobia in Aotearoa, what is the High Commission going to do to address the growing concerns about the divisive forces of Hindutva that are being expressed by Indian minorities here?


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