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'Coalition' of Indian-Americans
denounces Advani visit
Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC |
June 10, 2003 11:54 IST
A coalition of Indian-American Christian and Muslim organisations under the banner of 'Coalition to Support Democracy and Pluralism in India' has written to US President George W Bush criticising Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, currently on an official visit to the US, and warning that 'his actions in the past and currently, undermine American interests and values.'
While welcoming cooperation between the US and India in fighting terrorism and in promoting trade and strategic partnership, the Coalition said, 'We are not comfortable with such discussions taking place with people like Advani.'
In its letter to Bush, the Coalition charges that 'Advani has undermined the global war on terror by encouraging religious extremism in India which in turn fuels religious extremism in Pakistan.'
'His religious politics is causing uncertainties and unrest in India, which is bad for business,' the Coalition alleged. 'It also damages economic stability besides causing strains in US-India trade.'
'Under Advani's leadership,' the Coalition wrote, 'the Union ministry of home affairs has consistently refused to take action against Hindu extremists who have been responsible for destroying Christian churches, schools and hospitals, and for killing pastors and raping nuns. He has similarly protected the perpetrators of organised large scale violence against the Muslim community.'
'The government is now dragging its feet in investigating the February-March 2002 riots against the Muslim minority in Gujarat which resulted in over 2000 Muslim deaths,' it added.
The Coalition criticised Advani and his Bharatiya Janata Party for 'publicly lauding Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has been indicted by a range of Indian and international human rights groups of conniving with and supporting the mobs who attacked the religious minorities in Gujarat.'
'We urge the United States to reconsider its support to a religious fundamentalist party like the BJP, which will cause permanent damage to the civil society in India,' it said.
The letter called on Bush and other US officials to ask Advani what the Indian government and his office in particular 'is doing to counteract the prevailing climate of hostility against religious minorities in many parts of India and whether US-based contributions to Hindu fundamentalist groups in India are being monitored as closely as overseas funds received by Christian and Muslims institutions.'
Some members of the Coalition are the Ambedkar Memorial Trust, Association for India's Development, Association of Indian Muslims of America, Bharatiya Educational Foundation, California Institute of Integral Studies, Federation of Indian American Christian Organisations of North America, Federation of Indian Christians of Chicago, Indian American Catholic Association, Indian Muslim Council, M K Gandhi Institute for Non-Violence, Seva International and Vaishnava Center for Enlightenment.
The Coalition plans to hold a peace vigil at the Gandhi statue opposite the Indian embassy in Washington, DC, on Tuesday at 3 pm, to coincide with Advani's press conference, to 'promote peace and understanding between India and Pakistan, to remember the victims of the Gujarat riots and to promote communal harmony in India.'
Advani in US: Complete Coverage
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