Deelip Mhaske Recruits Sadaf Jaffer to Become New Jersey's Aisha Wahab

As SB403 comes unraveled and Wahab faces the heat of a recall campaign, there seems to be an attempt to activate the East Coast Caste policy invective. Deelip Mhaske takes over the mantle of Equality Labs. Castefiles will run a series of articles to expose the new Dalit Diva

Oct 27, 2023 - 10:28
Deelip Mhaske Recruits Sadaf Jaffer to Become New Jersey's Aisha Wahab

As per a recent article in New Jersey Monitor, Deelip Mhaske expressed his frustration after attempting to connect with many of the 120 members of the New Jersey legislature, only to be met with limited success. The only legislator who has supported his cause, Assemblywoman Sadaf Jaffer (D-Somerset), is set to leave her position in January 2024. 

Ironically for someone claiming to be a Hindu, Mhaske complains about the number of temples in the USA. He links temples as potential catalysts for caste-based discrimination. This is shocking given that there are no real cases or complaints. Despite no signs of monitoring at temple doorsteps, Mhaske spreads unwarranted rumors like, “The proliferation of temples nationwide is extremely alarming for us as they could potentially serve as epicenters for initiating caste-based untouchability and discrimination.” Accusing Hindu temples of promoting caste discrimination itself reflects a form of preconceived bias and prejudice.

This instance is yet another illustration of how Hinduism is often unfairly linked to the issue of caste, and the use of the term "caste" in policy could lead to the profiling of Hindu Americans, singling them out unfairly. It exemplifies how propaganda can be wielded to construct misleading narratives and enact laws that adversely impact an entire community, potentially infringing on their civil rights.

In a wild flagellation, Mhaske rejects other Caste activists, calling the Equality Labs dubious and the Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), ambiguous. In this, the opponents of the Caste Bill would agree vehemently with his observation.

Not only is Mhaske gung ho about caste policy in New Jersey, but he also targets India for California's rejection of caste policy. Of all things, Mhaske triangulates the killing of Nijjar and the Indo-Canadian diplomatic brouhaha to the SB403 Veto in California, suggesting that the rejection of SB403 by Newsom is due to India’s intervention in U.S. domestic politics. 

It is as wild as it gets, disrespecting America and its offices. He oversimplifies the issue, and forgets to mention the reasons outlined by Governor Newsom himself: “Because discrimination based on caste is already prohibited under these existing categories, this bill is unnecessary.” 

He also forgets that several other lawmakers sent their warning letters about SB403 to Governor Newsom.

Legislators oppose SB403

Brian Jones and Shannon Grove, two State Senators from California, authored a letter to Newsom urging him to reject SB403. Their primary contention was that the bill carried the potential to imperil the state's innovation leadership and pose risks to other residents and businesses in California.

These Senators voiced their apprehensions about the bill's inclusion of "caste" within the definition of "ancestry," as it would introduce the first and only racially discriminatory term into California's legal framework.

They asserted that this would be unconstitutional and infringe upon equal protection and due process rights for South Asians, particularly Hindu Americans. Additionally, they highlighted that Equality Labs, the bill's sponsor, had officially stated in sworn court documents that "Caste derives from Hindu scripture" and "caste exists in all South Asian religions."

The senators cast doubt on the assertions of widespread caste discrimination, underscoring the absence of substantial evidence or data substantiating its prevalence in California. 

The senators stressed the discriminatory intentions and consequences of SB403, pointing out that the definitions of "caste" and "inherited social status" within SB403 were excessively broad and open to diverse interpretations, potentially exposing millions of Californians to allegations of discrimination.

Additionally, the senators referred to an analysis conducted by the California Assembly Judiciary Committee, which relied on letters and background information affirming the connection of caste with South Asians.

Committee Consultant Expresses Frustration

Committee consultant Tom Clark expressed frustration regarding State Senator Aisha Wahab's opposition to replacing caste with ancestry or another neutral term, highlighting that none of the letters and supporting background material submitted to the committee suggested that caste was unrelated to one's ancestry.

Clark also emphasized that the co-sponsors of SB-403 unequivocally stated that caste is an inherited status, citing an example from an Equality Labs brochure: "Caste is inherited. If your parents, grandparents, and so on are of a particular caste, you are also."

Assembly Members Oppose SB403

Long before the veto took place, two California State Assembly representatives, Alex Lee and Evan Low, wrote a letter dated June 20, 2023, to the Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. Their letter noted the absence of concrete evidence to support claims of pervasive caste discrimination in California.

They strongly recommended conducting an official study within California to gauge the true extent of caste-based discrimination accurately. This official caste study proposal was immediately shot down by the bill’s backers and never took place.[1]

 It might come as a surprise to Mr. Mhaske that genuine Ambedkarite voices in California vehemently opposed SB403. A prime illustration is the Ambedkar-Phule Network of American Dalits and Bahujans (APNADB), a dynamic and all-encompassing community for Dalits and Bahujans.

Its leader, Milind Makwana, a distinguished Indian American Dalit American, tragically passed away from a sudden heart attack while ardently advocating against SB403 at a city council meeting in Cupertino. Ironically, it was the very "Hindu Nationalists" who paid heartfelt tributes to the late Dalit leader.[2]

In one of his previous articles featured in The Print, Mr. Mhaske extolled the American Bar Association (ABA), commending it for ushering in a "golden era" by passing Resolution 513 to include caste. Last month, Castefiles covered this in detail highlighting the  ABA controversies. [3]

 Besides SB403, ABA has faced flak for another failed attempt to pass racial justice resolutions and withdrawn the proposal.[4]

Additionally, what is not widely known is that in 1995, the United States Department of Justice leveled allegations against the ABA for violating Section 1 of the Sherman Act in its oversight of law school accreditation practices. This issue was eventually settled through a consent decree. However, in 2006, the ABA openly admitted to violating this consent decree, leading to a $185,000 fine paid to the Department of Justice.[5]

Recall Wahab surges ahead as a result of SB403

Mhaske supports Wahab without acknowledging her flawed authorship of SB403 which held discriminatory tones - neither does he question the motive for such a superfluous and contentious bill. Was it merely a political gesture to score brownie points? What urgent concerns prompted an amendment to the Unruh Civil Rights Act? 

Wahab's hostility and sweeping accusations against South Asians in California of committing serious offenses such as oppression, human trafficking, and sexual assault without concrete legal or police complaints to substantiate indicate hostility.  Her oscillations between calling caste a Hindu issue to South Asian to finally trying to call it a universal issue, displayed an invidious motive and  Mhaske blissfully ignores this.

A 'Recall Wahab' campaign has gained momentum and this is due to Wahab's association with other unsuccessful and widely unpopular legislative efforts and her perceived inefficacy in representing her constituents.[6]

 This recall movement is spearheaded by a diverse coalition encompassing individuals from various backgrounds and ethnicities, including Vietnamese, Chinese, Latino, Indian, and Afghan supporters. Many were Wahab supporters during the election and now are tired of her disastrous antics and stubborn proposals with utter disregard for the truth or her constituents.[7]

In a sweet taste of justice, Governor Newsom stepped in and prevented adding another discriminatory law to the roster of xenophobic policies. It is high time for Wahab, Equality Labs, the so-called caste equity organizations, and the academics who staunchly support them to introspect and line their ducks in a row before they begin another losing campaign in New Jersey. 


[2] HSS USA mourns the sudden and tragic loss of Shri Milind Makwana. See

[5] ABA Acknowledges Consent Decree Violations and Agrees to Pay $185,000. See

[6] Recall Wahab Campaign. See

Abhijit Bagal and Richa Gautam Abhijit Bagal is a legal analyst at Caste Files. He is a Healthcare Analytics technologist at a managed care organization specializing in publicly funded behavioral healthcare. He holds a master's degree in software engineering and an MBA with a specialization in comparative international health. Additionally, Abhijit is a part-time law student with a focus on civil rights, due process, and equal protection of the law. Richa Gautam is Founder of Caste Files and Co-Founder and Executive Director at Cares Global. She has been active in the field of advocacy and human rights for over a decade. She is currently engaged in the field of diversity, inclusiveness, and minority rights as well as decolonial practices with Cares Global and she is a Senior Research Associate at Indus University and a Fellow of the Center of Indic Studies at Ahmedabad.