The lawsuit, which was filed alleging mistreatment and labour violations, has taken an unexpected turn as the plaintiffs decided to abandon the legal action. This report aims to provide an overview of the key events leading up to the withdrawal and potential reasons behind the decision.
Why was the lawsuit filed against BAPS?
The lawsuit against BAPS was initially filed by a group of current and former labourers, who had worked at BAPS facilities in the United States. The plaintiffs accused the organisation of various labour violations, including wage theft, unsafe working conditions, and mistreatment of workers. The case drew significant attention both within the US and internationally, given BAPS’s large global presence and its reputation as a prominent Hindu organisation.
Important Developments Related To BAPS Lawsuit?
The initial lawsuit outlined a range of accusations against BAPS, which had the potential to tarnish the organisation’s image. The labourers claimed that they were subject to exploitative working conditions, unfair wages, and inadequate safety measures while working for BAPS.
Following the filing of the lawsuit, legal proceedings commenced, and both parties presented their arguments and evidence. BAPS refuted the allegations, asserting that they had adhered to all relevant labour laws and treated their workers fairly and ethically.
As the case progressed, it is possible that mediation and negotiations between the plaintiffs and BAPS took place, seeking a potential resolution outside the courtroom. During these discussions, the parties may have addressed concerns raised by the labourers and sought an amicable resolution to the dispute.
Withdrawal of Lawsuit against BAPS
In a surprising turn of events, the plaintiffs’ legal team recently filed a request to withdraw the lawsuit against BAPS. The specific reasons behind this decision have not been publicly disclosed. It is essential to recognise that both parties are bound by confidentiality agreements in such circumstances, which may limit the information available to the public.
A press release by Bharatiya Pathar Gadhaiya evam Nirman Mazdoor Sangh, an affiliation of Bhartaiya Mazdoor Sangh, titled: Dozens of artisans decide to withdraw from the case against Hindu Mandir in America saying that the case is a false conspiracy, reads, “A deep-rooted conspiracy to stall the construction of a grand Hindu temple in America has been exposed recently.
Rajasthan High Court Advocate Aaditya SB Son, announcing this through the labour unions Bharatiya Majdoor Sangh and Patthar Gadhai sangh, declared that some religious stone carving artisans have come forward to state that a Hindu temple in America has been the target of an international conspiracy against Hindu faith and Indian culture.
These religious volunteer artisans were made accomplices in the conspiracy but have rebelled against it. Many of the artisans have decided to withdraw from the civil complaint filed in an American court against the Hindu temple”.
It further reads, “Rajasthan High Court Advocate Aaditya SB Soni stated that he is making this statement as the authorised advocate on behalf of more than 25 clients, all of whom are artisans. These artisans have served as volunteers for religious stone work at the BAPS Hindu Mandir being built in Robbinsville town of New Jersey state in USA. Some 12 of these volunteers were pressured to join as plaintiffs in a civil complaint in the New Jersey court”.
“Based on the complaint, FBI entered the temple premises on May 11, 2021, to take away these allegedly ‘human trafficked’ volunteers with them. The police took away 110 out of the 134 artisan volunteers from the temple site.
Some of these artisan volunteers have now contacted Advocate Aaditya SB Son and informed him that an Advocate in the USA named Swati Sawant had misled them into making the complaint and so they now want to withdraw from it. These artisans have made strong claims that Swati Sawant and her companions impressed upon them and misled them, using false temptations, to make a complaint against the temple management”, the press release further reads.
Potential Reasons for Withdrawal
While the exact reasons for the withdrawal remain undisclosed, several factors might have contributed to this decision:
a) Settlement Agreement: The plaintiffs and BAPS may have reached a confidential settlement agreement, resolving the dispute and addressing the labourers’ grievances
b) Lack of Sufficient Evidence: The plaintiffs’ legal team may have encountered challenges in gathering evidence to substantiate their claims, prompting them to withdraw the lawsuit.
c) Cost and Time Constraints: Legal battles can be financially and emotionally taxing for all parties involved. The plaintiffs may have reconsidered pursuing the case due to the costs and time involved.
d) Organisational Reforms: It is also possible that BAPS implemented internal reforms or policy changes in response to the allegations, potentially leading the plaintiffs to re-evaluate the necessity of legal action.
Know what was the case against BAPS – Swaminarayan Temple, New Jersey
BAPS – Swaminarayan Temple, New Jersey was accused of labour and immigration abuse. Few people like Prof Audrey Truschke, Equality Labs went to the extent of accusing BAPS of caste discrimination against Dalits.
According to the complaint, after being trafficked to the U.S. under false pretenses, the workers’ passports were confiscated, and they were forced to live and work in a fenced, guarded compound. They were not allowed to leave the grounds unaccompanied, and they were under constant monitoring, threats of being fined for infractions, and arrest.
A BAPS representative Matthew Frankel of MDF Strategies told MidJersey.news “We were first made aware of the accusations early Tuesday morning, we are taking them very seriously and are thoroughly reviewing the issues raised.” BAPS had issued a statement in which it had said that they followed all the immigration and labour laws.
International Media Was Critical of BAPS
International media like New York Times, Forbes etc were quick to jump into the fray despite the fact that investigations were under way and it was a developing story, media was quick to run headlines reading “ Hindu Sect accused of using forced labour to construct Hindu temple”.Forbes mentioned in its coverage that the temple management had been practising “pervasive discrimination against members of India’s marginalised social castes — even in the United States.
Hinduphobic professor Audrey Truschke was quick to jump into the fray BJP-RSS and PM Modi into the picture. In a tweet thread she said that the issue is one of caste discrimination on US soil.
Meanwhile, The action initiated and public notices issued by New Jersey Department of Labour do not mention any role played by the temple authorities in this issue.
Finally Workers Get Justice
The withdrawal of the lawsuit by the labourers against BAPS represents a significant development in this ongoing legal matter. While the specific reasons for the withdrawal have not been publicly disclosed, it is evident that this turn of events has spared both parties from protracted litigation and potential reputational damage. However, the withdrawal does not diminish the significance of the initial allegations, which underscore the importance of ensuring fair and ethical treatment of workers across all organisations, irrespective of their size or standing.