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Washington Times, Letters to the Editor, Sept 09, 2000

Indian 'democracy' ignores humans rights

When Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visits the United States next week, the president should press him on human rights violations and self-determination.

The claim by Chidanand Rajghatta ("India's high tech future," Commentary Sept. 5) that India has "a Western system of justice and rule of law that it inherited from the British and has built on during 54 years of unswerving fealty to democracy" is false. The truth, as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, pointed out last year, is that for Sikhs, Kashmiris and other minorities, "India might as well be Nazi Germany."

Late last month, a priest in Gujarat was kidnapped, tortured and paraded naked through town by militant Hindu nationalists. When his fellow priests went to the police, they refused to register a complaint. This attack was part of a wave of terror against Christians that has been going on since Christmas 1998. Priests have been murdered; nuns have been raped; a missionary and his two sons were burned to death in their van by members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is the parent organization of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP); schools and prayer halls have been attacked and destroyed. Most of these activities have been carried out by allies of the government or people affiliated with organizations under the umbrella of the RSS, which was founded in support of fascism. During President Clinton's visit to India in March, 35 Sikhs were murdered in the village of Chithi Singhpora, Kashmir. Two extensive independent investigations, one conducted by the Ludhiana-based International Human Rights Organization and another conducted by the Movement Against State Repression and the Punjab Human Rights Organization, have proved that the Indian government's own forces carried out this massacre.

Since 1984, the Indian government has murdered more than 250,000 Sikhs, according to figures published in "The Politics of Genocide" by Inderjit Singh Jaijee. Mr. Jaijee derived his figures from those of the Punjab State Magistracy. In addition, India has killed more than 200,000 Christians in Nagaland since 1947, more than 70,000 Kashmiri Muslims since 1988 and tens of thousands of Dalits ("black untouchables," the aboriginal people of South Asia), Assamese, Tamils, Manipuris and others. According to Amnesty International, thousands of political prisoners are being held in illegal detention without charge or trial in "the world's largest democracy." India is a hostile country. It votes against America at the United Nations more often than any country except Cuba. Last year, Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes led a meeting with Cuba, China, Iraq, Serbia, Russia and Libya to construct a security alliance "to stop the U.S," as the Indian Express has reported. India openly supported the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It tested five nuclear warheads, beginning the nuclear arms race in South Asia. It also refuses to allow the Sikhs, Kashmiris, Christians and other minority nations and peoples to decide their own political future in a free and fair vote, as democratic countries do. America repeatedly has granted this opportunity to Puerto Rico, and Canada has permitted Quebec to do so. Why can't the "world's largest democracy" settle these issues the democratic way?

America is the bastion of freedom for the world. We cannot accept this kind of brutality and tyranny from a government that claims to be democratic. Our leaders must press Prime Minister Vajpayee on the issues of human rights and self-determination for Khalistan, Christian Nagalim, Kashmir and all the minority nations and peoples living under Indian rule.

Council of Khalistan


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