Civil rights groups denounce new HBSJ congressional caucus

The Hindus for Human Rights organization and allies said the HSBJ caucus had an inclusive label but was not inclusive of the perspectives of the entire South Asian community.

Yasmin Tinwala

Shri Thanedar officially launched the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, and Jain congressional caucus on September 29 /

US-based Advocacy organisation, Hindus for Human Rights (Hindus4HR) and its other key allies denounced the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Jain (HBSJ) congressional caucus recently launched officially by Indian-American Congressman Shri Thanedar on September 29. 

The civil rights groups in a statement said they are “sceptical” if the caucus is inclusive and clarified that they welcome any caucus to “forward the interests of our and other religious communities, as long as it does so in a way that is inclusive of perspectives of the entire South Asian community across faith, caste, and ethnic lines.” 

Rep. Thanedar launched HSBJ to protect the interests of Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains, as well as combat religious discrimination and promote religious freedom. The caucus was supported by two dozen lawmakers, Thanedar told reporters a day before its formal launch. 

The statement from the civil rights groups noted that Thanedar announced the launch of a Hindu caucus in June “without input from the full spectrum of Hindu American civil society, including Dalit and linguistic community organizations.”  The Hindus4HR said they were surprised to hear of the formation of HSBJ without the consultation of mainstream organizations, including them. 

“This new caucus (HSBJ) seems to be a new iteration of that previous announcement,” the statement reads, adding, that the repackaged caucus with a more inclusive label but the same makeup will likely combat efforts to ban caste discrimination at a federal level, and hamper progress in other arenas as well. 

The Sikh Coalition is one of the signatories to the statement. In a post on X, formerly Twitter, the Coalition said, “This caucus is not representative of the Sikh community. Based on our outreach and understanding, its leadership has not meaningfully consulted representatives from these communities and is not including other key South Asian faith traditions, including Muslim representation.”