NRIs to demonstrate against Sadhvi Ritambra of the RSS at the Ganesh Temple in Flushing, New York
Temple space should not be used to promote and fund the politics of communal hatred in India, the group says
New York, July 26, 2002 -- Non-resident Indians from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts will hold a demonstration today at the Ganesh Temple located at 143-09 Holly Ave, Flushing, New York, to protest the meeting and reception being held there for Sadhvi Ritambra.
Well-known for her inflammatory speeches and poems against Muslims and other minorities in India, Sadhvi Ritambra is an RSS activist and the main demagogue of the Sangh Parivar. Shouting Ek Dhakka Aur Do, Babri Masjid Tor Do on December 6th, 1992, the Sadhvi had exhorted kar sevaks to bring down the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, in defiance of the order of the Indian Supreme Court. More than 3000 lives, mostly Muslim, were lost in the communal riots that followed. It is widely recognized that the Sadhvi´s brand of hate speech had greatly encouraged her co-religionists to indulge in unspeakable acts of violence at that time. She is in New York now, soon after the anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat which has claimed about 2000 lives and displaced over 100.000 men, women, and children. The murder, rape and destruction was the work of Sangh Parivar organizations in Gujarat, backed by the collusive BJP government in the state and at the Centre.
What genuine religious leader -- of any faith -- would ever incite their followers to destroy people belonging to another religious group? Sadhvi Ritambara, however, actively advocates the torture, rape and killing of Muslim women, men and children. We are also very troubled by the fact that this meeting with the Sadhvi is being used to raise money for ostensibly charitable organizations in India. It has recently been brought to our attent ion by the media -- the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal in the U.S., and Outlook magazine in India, for example -- that donations to charity unsuspectingly made by Indian-Americans are often sent by American Sangh Parivar supporters to violent Hindu right-wing groups in India.
The Ganesh temple is a community institution and should be a place for peace and prayer. As Indian-Americans of diverse religious backgrounds, we strongly object to the temple space being used to promote and fund the politics of hate in India. Many of us are Hindus who visit the temple for spiritual reasons, and we are deeply offended that the temple authorities should endorse Sadhvi Ritambara´s hate-mongering in the name of religion.
Some of the NRI groups involved in today´s protest are the International South Asia Forum (INSAF), the SAMAR media collective, the Forum of Indian Leftists (FOIL), and NRIs for a Secular and Harmonious India. These groups and others have engaged in several previous protest actions against the communal violence in Gujarat.