Fearing further violence against Muslims in Gujarat during the Jagannath Rath Yatra, NRIs will fast outside the Indian Consulate in New York on Wednesday, July 10th
New York, 9 July 2002
For more information contact Chandana Mathur
Non-resident Indians from Boston, New York and surrounding areas will hold a day-long fast and vigil outside the Indian Consulate in New York from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 10th. Concerned that the Indian government´s decision to allow the Jagannath Rath Yatra to pass through communally sensitive areas in Ahmedabad on July 12th might lead to a fresh outbreak of violence against Muslims, the NRI group is fasting in solidarity with the ravaged Muslim population of Gujarat, and to remind the government that it will be held fully accountable for the consequences of this decision.
The pogroms against Muslims in Gujarat in February-March claimed about 2,000 lives and displaced over 100,000 men, women and children. Every independent investigation into the violence since that time -- by national and international human rights organizations, by women´s groups, by committees of journalists, former civil servants and judges, even by the British High Commission -- has concluded that the BJP government in Gujarat colluded in the violence against the minority community. The vast majority of the extremists guilty of murder and rape remain unpunished, and will very likely attend the upcoming Rath Yatra in large numbers. The Gujarat government has shown little interest in organizing relief and rehabilitation for the Muslim victims of violence. Most recently, it has been reported that relief camps are being disbanded by the government and riot-victims are being forced to return to the homes that they fled to keep from being massacred.
Under these circumstances, many NRIs are very critical of the government´s decision to allow right-wing Hindu groups to conduct a procession through the Muslim areas of Ahmedabad on July 12th, and thus to endanger the lives and property of Muslims in Gujarat once again. The message forcefully being conveyed to the Indian government is that the world is watching and that the government will be held completely responsible for any untoward incidents that may occur on July 12th.
Some of the NRI groups involved in this vigil are the Boston-based Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, and the New York based SAMAR media collective, INSAF (International South Asia Forum), the Forum of Indian Leftists, and NRIs for a Secular and Harmonious India. These groups and others have engaged in several previous protest actions against the violence in Gujarat.