NEWSBREAK ORIGINAL: After nearly four hours of controversy and arguments from dozens of Manteca residents, Manteca Mayor Benjamin Cantu and council members of Manteca, California voted to rescind a January 18, 2022 proclamation that was given to the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS).
Manteca, California- In light of serious allegations against the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), a 501C3 non-profit organization registered in the United States under the name Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh Us A Inc. EIN: 52-1647017, the Manteca City Council held a special meeting yesterday to discuss rescinding the January 18, 2022 Proclamation Recognizing “Health for Humanity-Yogathon 2022,” a proclamation that was put forward by the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS).
Concerning information regarding the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) and its affiliation with India’s fascist organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, was brought to the council’s attention during a July 19, 2022 meeting. Activists joined the community to protest outside the Manteca City Council meeting. The group of about 50 chanted “RSS Out of America.” “RSS Out of India.”
During yesterday’s special meeting, dozens of Manteca residents took the floor to speak in opposition and in favor of rescinding the proclamation.
Several citizens discussed their concerns about the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) and its affiliation with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), an Indian right-wing, Hindu nationalist, and paramilitary volunteer organization, noting that the RSS is a fascist group that has been responsible for pogroms, abuse, rape, and persecution of minority groups in India.
The RSS uses one of its sister partners, the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), to legitimize itself and gain credibility even while its leadership promotes the RSS’s agenda in India. -member of the community.
A few other members that spoke in opposition to the council rescinding the proclamation alleged Hinduphobia, anti-Hindu agendas, and called residents in favor of the rescindment names like Hinduphobics, Hindu haters, terrorists, and hate mongers.
One speaker that was in opposition to the council rescinding the proclamation threatened the council with legal action should they rescind the proclamation.
The city clarified that they are in support of Yoga and they respect all of its residents’ religions and beliefs. However, they reiterated more than once that they were not in favor of controversy or being affiliated with a political agenda. They also offered to proclaim yoga without affiliation to any organization.
Ramya Ramakrishnan, Community Outreach Director of the Hindu American Foundation, labeled the information from the residents in favor of rescinding the proclamation as “lies,” and called the speakers Hindu haters.
While a majority of the speakers in opposition of the proclamation being rescinded claimed Hinduphobia, Hindu haters, lies, propaganda, and terrorism, the city council didn’t allow a lawsuit threat and verbal attacks targeting specific Manteca residents to influence their decision.
The Manteca City Council’s ability to remain neutral and respect the community and its residents as a whole is impressive.
I am really happy to have seen and heard from all of you. In the 50 years that I have been at City Hall, a lot of you don’t know this, I have been here a long time. This is the first time that I have seen a crowd this big come in on an item that has something to do with something as simple as yoga. That’s amazing, it really is. We get a football team in here and were lucky to get twenty people. – Benjamin J. Cantu
The residents of Manteca that brought this issue to light thanked Manteca City Council members for taking corrective action and standing up against right-wing extremists that continuously violate human rights and persecute minority groups. They said that Manteca has no place for the RSS or its US affiliate, the HSS.
The proclamation was signed on January 18, 2022. A copy of the proclamation, the agenda for the August 3, 2022 special meeting, the document rescinding the proclamation, and the video from yesterday’s meeting can be found on the City of Manteca website.