FREMONT, Calif. — Members of the Hindu community spoke out against an anti-caste bill proposed by State Sen. Aisha Wahab during a public comments section of the Fremont City Council meeting on Tuesday night.
Senate Bill 403, which aims to prevent discrimination based on caste, has been met with mixed reactions. While many have praised the proposed legislation, some members of the Hindu community who showed up in Fremont believe that it unfairly targets their religion. They rallied in opposition to the bill in front of Wahab’s office earlier that day.
“We as a community live peacefully and in harmony with everyone around us,” Fremont resident Padma Gopalakrishnan said. “This bill has only one intention: to divide us. And as a consequence of that, it will create Hindu hate.”
Gopalakrishnan was joined by several other members of the community and their children who echoed her sentiments, calling the bill an example of profiling and Hindu-phobia. They asked the City Council to pass a resolution against the hatred and phobia of Hindus. It is unclear how many of the individuals reside in Fremont since at least one Facebook post encouraged all members of the Northern California Hindu community to show up to the protest.
A couple of Indian Americans spoke in favor of the bill and said that caste discrimination is, indeed, an issue in the U.S., adding it wouldn’t affect people who weren’t engaging in discriminatory behavior. The audience began shouting one of them down, refusing to let him speak until Mayor Lily Mei interjected and reminded everyone to be respectful.
Wahab’s office refused multiple opportunities to comment.
The Fremont City Council did not take any action on the discussion during the meeting because it can only discuss and take action on items that are on the agenda. The anti-caste bill is currently under review in the State Senate and will likely face further debate and discussion in the coming weeks.