Massive grassroots effort from community was led by Dalit and Bahujan Activists

Sacramento, October 7, 2023: The Coalition of Hindus of North America (CoHNA) welcomes California Governor Gavin Newsom’s veto of SB403. He called it “unnecessary” and we agree

“This is a victory for common sense” said Nikunj Trivedi, President of CoHNA. “We have always said that this was unnecessary since existing law adequately covers discrimination of all forms. We are delighted to see Gov Newsom reiterate that position”. In fact this is something Senator Wahab had also acknowledged in earlier versions of the bill.

SB403 stirred strong passions among the Indian American and Hindu community who saw it as a targeted attack on a group of immigrants based on unproven accusations and unscientific studies by Hinduphobic organizations. CoHNA is glad to see that an attempt to single out and profile a community based on country of origin and faith has failed. It is indeed shocking that something so flawed came so close to being written into law and so much hate speech against a minority was platformed by the very institutions that need to guard against it.

“This was a culmination of a united effort from the Hindu Community and other right thinking people” said Sudha Jagannathan a member of the Bahujan community and a Board Member of CoHNA, who led the CoHNA campaign against the bill . “I feel personally vindicated today since I have always maintained that Hinduphobic groups who pushed this bill while claiming to represent the Dalit and Bahujan people like me, did not really speak for us.”

“Today marks a victory for common sense, for civil rights and for equality before law in California. It is a tribute to all who fought for justice and today’s news is dedicated to the spirit of Milind Makwana, the Dalit activist who died fighting against this law and who will live on in our hearts forever,” said Pushpita Prasad, CoHNA Board Member and longtime California resident. “Now we must make sure that such hate is not allowed to grow in state and educational institutions”, she added.

The win today is a culmination of the efforts of the entire Hindu American community, and the hundreds of organizations, temples, business and allies that fought against profiling based on birth.

“We rose above the lies, the insinuations and the wild accusations – and we prevailed. Our offer to help fund a real and objective study on prevalence of caste based discrimination – not the unscientific and anecdotal sham of a ‘study’ by Equality Labs – still stands. We will work with any group that wishes to explore this neutrally and without the biased claim that immigrants bring their prejudices with them.” said Suresh Krishnamoorthy, Treasurer and Board Member of CoHNA.