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Bharara moves to dismiss complaint against RSS

By George Joseph
March 26, 2015 10:02 IST
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The New York-based Sikhs For Justice has sought a court order directing US Secretary of State John Kerry to designate the RSS a 'Foreign Terrorist Organisation,' which Preet Bharara says the US government intends to move to dismiss.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat

Opposing a writ of mandamus filed by the New York-based Sikhs For Justice, seeking a court order directing United States Secretary of State John Kerry to designate the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh a 'Foreign Terrorist Organisation,' Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, submitted that the government intends to move to dismiss the complaint.

In his submission addressed to US District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain, Bharara said, 'This Office represents defendant John Kerry, in his official capacity as US Secretary of State, in the above-referenced matter... The government intends to move to dismiss the complaint, and requires additional time to finalise its motion and supporting papers.'

'Accordingly, we respectfully request that the government's time to respond to the complaint be extended until April 14.'

The case was filed in the Southern District of New York, titled Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) v John Kerry, US Secretary of State (15-cv-00433) in January. The judge had issued summons to Kerry.

The summons was served through Bharara's office as it is responsible for litigation brought against the United States in the Southern District of New York.

The SFJ had also served Kerry through Jerry Drake, acting executive director at the State Department in Washington, DC.

The Sikhs for Justice complaint seeks the designation of FTO because it alleges the RSS is 'believing in and practicing a fascist ideology and for running a campaign to turn India into a Hindu nation with a homogeneous religious and cultural identity.'

FTOs are foreign organisations that are designated by the secretary of state. FTO designations play a critical role in the fight against terrorism and are an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business, according to the State Department.

It is unlawful for a person in the United States to knowingly provide 'material support or resources' to a designated FTO.

The RSS, the ideological mentor of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, is in the headlines for its campaign of 'homecoming' to convert Christians and Muslims as Hindus, the SFJ suit alleged.

Since the filing of the lawsuit, several instances of violence against Christians in India have been reported in the media, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, SFJ's legal advisor, stated.

'We will amend the complaint to include increased threats and continuous use of violence against religious minorities,' Pannun said.

The Sikhs For Justice complaint alleged that a movement towards Hinduising India is being funded by groups in the United States.

'Instead of following the law, the Obama administration is warming up to BJP-ruled India, ignoring serious concerns raised by the international community regarding persecution of religious minorities,' Pannun noted.

The SFJ had earlier petitioned the State Department against the RSS, Pannun said. As there was no action or reply, Sikhs For Justice approached the court.

Image: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat

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George Joseph in New York
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