The organization called Equality Labs was formed in 2016 as an Ambedkarite South Asian power-building organization in the US with the motive to “center the leadership of South Asian minority groups in the ongoing redefinition of South Asian identity in the United States, across the Diaspora, and in our home countries, from India to Tamil Eelam, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, and Pakistan”.
Here we discuss the background of this anti-Hindu syndicate. Much of the material reported here is taken from public-source reports by Disinfo Lab titled “OPERATION TUPAC – Decoding the Longest War” and “Institutionalisation of a Fault Line – A Case Study.”
- Thenmozhi Soundarajan is the main founder of Equality Labs. She is a US-born and brought-up Dalit techie, artist, and activist. Her father, Dr. T.S.S. Soundarajan, came to the United States in the 1970s after graduating from Madras Medical College. During his career in the US as a medical practitioner, he managed to get embroiled in several legal battles because of his incompetency as a physician[3,4,5]. Her parents got divorced in 1998 when Thenmozhi was 12 years old. Her own marriage to Cyril Drame did not last long. Following their divorce in 2009, Cyril Drame filed a lawsuit against her; the case is still pending.
- Sharmin Hossain, a Bangladeshi American, is the other co-founder of Equality Labs, serving as its Political Director before resigning in March 2021. In April 2021, she founded a new organization, Queer Crescent, which is described as a political home for LGBTQI+ Muslims.
- Aruna Lohitakshi Sanghapali (aka Sanghapali Aruna Kornana), another prominent name associated with Equality Lab, is an anti-caste activist and Executive Director of Project Mukti. She is also a board member of Jai Bhim International, a non-profit organization based in San Francisco that operates in India, mainly in Kerala[11,12]. Aruna is also a doctoral fellow in Linguistics at JNU, New Delhi. She was one of the key persons who organized a placard holding with the former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey promoting ‘Smash Brahminical Patriarchy’ and ‘End Caste Apartheid’ posters in 2018.
Aruna’s family has been closely associated with the Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation (BAMCEF), which works closely with the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN), and is co-sponsored by Denmark and Norway[15,16]. It is worth noting that one of IDSN’s key partner NGOs from India, Navsarjan Trust, has been accused of involvement in “undesirable activities aimed to affect prejudicially harmony between religious, racial, social, linguistic, regional groups, castes or communities”. Its FCRA license was canceled by the Government of India in December 2016.
- Huma Dar (formerly Huma Farooq Dar). Huma’s father, Lt. Colonel Bashir Uddin Ahmad, a retired military officer of the Pakistan army, was involved in two wars against India: the 1965 Indo-Pak war and the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war. After its humiliating defeat in 1971, Pakistan launched Operation Tupac to “balkanize and bleed India by a thousand cuts”. The father has evidently passed the torch on to the daughter to carry on the battle.
US resident since the 1990s, Huma is involved in several organizations and initiatives inimical to India. She has been a key player at the Kashmir-Khalistan desk (K2), a project of Pakistan’s ISI, and has publicly supported the Khalistan movement. She is also involved in the Pakistan-backed organization, Stand with Kashmir (SWK). Further, she was on the advisory board of Equality Labs when her daughter, Natasha Dar, was coauthoring EL’s caste report. In 2019, Huma started a movement for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDSM) against India. Some of her cohorts in running the Kashmir conflict industry are:
Farhan Mujahid Chak – A Pakistani national currently living in Qatar and the Secretary General of the organization Kashmir Civitas (KC) with bases in Toronto, Istanbul, Qatar, London, and Beijing. Recently, KC released a toolkit that formulated the BDS movement against India[23,24].
Angana Chatterji- A close aide to the convicted ISI puppet, Ghulam Nabi Fai.
Haley Duschinski- An associate professor at Ohio University, she has been active since 2016 in the Kashmir conflict industry.
Hafsa Kanjwal- An Assistant Professor at Lafayette College, she was groomed by Ghulam Nabi Fai and the Pakistani embassy in the early 2000s and is now a key player in Stand with Kashmir (SWK) organization.
- Maari Zwick Maitreyi, one of Equality Lab’s co-founders and its Research Director, has had a long association with Thenmozhi Soundarajan[27,28]. She is known to be involved in a number of organizations and initiatives. Maari is credited with the formation of “Dalit History Month” (DHM), a project that was launched by the Dalit Nation along with Project Mukti in 2015[29,30]. She is also involved in “Two Circles,” a Massachusetts-based not-for-profit news portal that covers stories pertaining to “marginalized sections of India”. Interestingly, Maari showed up in Two Circles under a completely new identity as Valli Karunakaran[32,33]. It is not clear why she chose this second identity and if she has made this fact public.
Equality Lab documents also make references to two other individuals associated with Two Circles: Kashif Ul Huda and Vinay Bhatt, thus establishing a nexus between EL and the Two Circles organization. Incidentally, Kashif is a staunch sympathizer of Zakir Nair and his organization, IRF.
- Equality Labs’ report on caste (to be described in the sequel) mentions several activists and organizations that were involved in its curation, such as IAMC (Indian American Muslim Council), OFMI (Organization for Minorities in India), AJA (Alliance for Justice and Accountability) and HfHR (Hindus for Human Rights). These organizations are known fronts created in the US by the Pakistani Establishment, Jamaat-e-Islami, as part of its longest war against India. Details of these organizations and their activities can be found in Disinfo Lab’s report “Operation TUPAC – Decoding the Longest War”.
In particular, OFMI was founded and jointly run by Bhajan Singh Bhinder and his employee, Pieter Friedrich, who once worked with the ISI to send weapons to India for terror attacks in the 1990s. It is quite telling that the names of Bhajan Singh Bhinder and his entity OFMI were removed from the EL report after their terrorist activities were exposed in Disinfo Lab’s 2021 report “The Unending War Part 1”.
Equality Labs’ Activities
- Equality Labs’ biggest claim to fame is a single survey report on Caste published in 2018. Subsequently, in July 2020, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and two Indian-origin employees in the USA filed a lawsuit against Cisco Systems Inc. on the grounds of caste discrimination against one of its Indian-American employees. The suit alleged that a Dalit employee at the IT company (referred to as John Doe) was discriminated against by two of his fellow Indian-origin colleagues, Sundar Iyer and Ramana Kompella beginning in November 2016. The lawsuit also referred to the 2018 caste report of Equality Labs. Soon after the lawsuit, Equality Labs and its founder Thenmozhi Soundararajan began playing up the issue by appearing on various media platforms[41,42].
- On November 14, 2017, Equality Labs founders Thenmozhi Soundarajan and Pieter Friedrich staged a protest at the California Department of Education against changing the subject of the caste system in India from California History and Social Sciences Curriculum.
- Equality Labs was very active during the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in India. During that time, Equality Labs collated CAA, National Register of Citizens (NRC), and National Population Register (NPR) with purported Genocide in India and released a one-pager pamphlet on it.
- It also released a toolkit titled “organizing against Hindu Fascism” to organize protests and run online campaigns against the Indian establishment. The toolkit gave sample tweets as well as suggestions for running campaigns and holding protests. The toolkit also calls for supporting various news platforms and advocacy groups such as AltNews, Internet Freedom Foundation, and The Software Freedom Law Centre – SFLC.
- Operation Tupac – Decoding the longest war – DisinfoLab (thedisinfolab.org)
- https://thedisinfolab.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/The-Un-Ending-War-III-KASHMIR-INC.pdf #page=32
- Operation Tupac – Decoding the longest war – DisinfoLab (thedisinfolab.org)