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Published in the 1-15 Apr 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Open letter to the Prime Minister

Open letter to the Prime Minister

The Milli Gazette Online 

The following open letter was addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by 286 persons from around the world. It was released by Shabnam Hashmi of Anhad (Act Now For Harmony and Democracy) in Delhi on 21 March 2005. Signatories included MG editor, and this at once led to an avalanche of abusive emails to the editor from the prampara Parivar, some of which are simply unprintable (for a sample of milder messages, see p. 31)

Prime Ministerís statement in the Rajya Sabha
We express our shock and anger at the stand taken by the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in the Rajya Sabha on the issue of refusal of visa to Mr. Narendra Modi by the USA. He has said that it is not proper for any agency to form its opinion on the role of Sh. Modi in the 2002 Gujarat genocide based on mere allegations. Sh. Singh needs to be reminded that it was the NHRC which had castigated Mr. Modi and his state government for having aided and abetted the act of genocide of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, and it was the Supreme Court of India that had opined that the Modi government cannot be relied upon to bring about justice to the victims of the carnage. More than 50 national and international agencies of high credibility with their painstaking investigation had held Mr. Modi directly responsible for the act of genocide. The Prime Minister needs to come clean on this issue. Does he hold a considered opinion that the observations made by the NHRC and the Supreme Court of India are to be treated with contempt as shown by him in his Rajya Sabha speech?

Mr. Modiís policies of hatred should not be legitimised even by association. Mr. Modi is no ordinary elected leader. He has become infamous for his active abetment in the most brutal massacre since India became free, of a segment of the citizens of his state. His notoriety has deepened in the past 3 years because he remains completely unrepentant for these crimes, including the mass slaughter and rape of hundreds of innocent women and children, and instead has openly fought elections from a platform of hate. He has deliberately subverted the process of justice, that have attracted unprecedented stricture from the Supreme Court of India.

We continue to harbour grave disquiet about the militaristic and chauvinistic policies of the current US government itself, most notably in Afghanistan and Iraq. George Bush and his cohorts cannot be the arbiters of human rights.

We commend the untiring efforts of NRIs and human rights activists in the US and in India who mobilized public opinion and pressurized the US administration which led to the denial of Modiís visa. For those who claim that the international community has no role to play in the Gujarat carnage since it is a matter internal to the Indian nation, we would like to remind them that by the same logic, the entire world should have remained a mute spectator as millions of Jews were imprisoned and executed in concentration camps by the Nazi government. For those who claim that any insult to any elected official is an insult to the entire nation, we would like to remind them that Hitler, who is reviled even today, was also an elected official. There is nothing more insulting to the Indian nation than the pogroms that took place in Gujarat, and the fact that their main architect, Sh Narendra Modi, still continues to enjoy the powers and privileges of the Chief Minister in that state, while the Prime Minister of the country rushes to his defence.

It is a matter of great shame that even 10 months after having assumed power the UPA government has done nothing to ensure justice to the victims of Gujarat genocide. It has taken no steps to instill a sense of security and confidence among the displaced, raped, and maimed minorities of Gujarat who have been left to fend for themselves. No financial and legal aid has been arranged by the Central government for them and it is treating the whole Gujarat genocide as a routine state matter.

The statement by Dr. Manmohan Singh adds insult to the injury suffered by the Genocide victims of Gujarat, and is an affront to those NRIs and human rights activists in the US whose unflagging pressure on the US administration resulted in the denial of Mr. Modiís visa. That Dr. Singh should feel compelled to come out openly to speak for an organizer of mass murder who feels no remorse for his role shows that Dr. Singh has lost all sense of propriety. The statement also shows that the government wants to remain neutral on the question of communalism.

We, as people who are committed to secularism and human rights in India, feel betrayed and would like to take this opportunity to express our sense of despair that the political formation which is in power at the centre lacks any sense of moral responsibility and moral courage.

On behalf of the dead and living victims of Gujarat genocide and on behalf of the sections of civil society which have worked for the defeat of the communal forces we demand an apology from Dr. Manmohan Singh for having humiliated the wronged citizens of India by issuing a highly insensitive and irresponsible statement defending Mr. Narendra Modi.

Released by Anhad (anhadinfo@yahoo.co.in)
For a full list of signatories visit: http://www.milligazette.com/dailyupdate/2005/20050322.htm  

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