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Syed Firdaus Ashraf in New York
Members of the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin and other peace loving Indians staged a protest on Friday outside the Indian consulate to highlight the 'indifferent attitude' of the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Gujarat towards the minorities.
Holding placards and shouting slogans against Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the protestors called for peace in the land of Mahatma Gandhi.
Tayeb Poonawala, an AFMI member, told rediff.com that India was a land of secular democracy and everyone must be protected. The Gujarat government had done a miserable job in protecting minorities, she added.
Another protestor, Sushila Gidwani, said: "I am a Hindu and I condemn such violent acts. It is a shame that the government is not doing anything to stop the rioters in Gujarat."
The delegation then met Consul General Shashi Tripathi and expressed anguish at the way the minorities were being treated in Gujarat. They also expressed dissatisfaction over the fact that the Gujarat government was showing 'discrimination' in distributing relief.
"Tripathi told us that she was very sympathetic to all those people who lost their loved ones in Gujarat. And we must see that this does not reoccur in any part of our country again," Poonawala said.
The protestors said that the governments of the United States and all modern democratic nations held India accountable for its direct and indirect complicity in human rights violations, just as they had held accountable countries like China, Iraq, Yugoslavia and the former Taliban militia in Afghanistan.
The president of the AMFI, Mukhi Shakir, said that the organisation had distributed hundreds of rickshaws to unemployed Muslim youths in Gujarat and all of them had been damaged in the riots. "I feel sad because with great difficulties we managed to give them some employment opportunity. Now they won't have any other opportunity. Another fear that I have is that they will have an empty mind and nothing to do after their properties have been destroyed."
The delegation also expressed concern over the March 15 deadline given by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to start building the Ram temple at Ayodhya.
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