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Muslim Cleric Arrested, Tortured Under POTA
Continued Persecution of Minorities in India, i.e. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Others
No One Has Been Charged in Gujarat Massacre of Muslims, Which Government Organized WASHINGTON, D.C., February 20, 2003 India has arrested and tortured Maulana Hussain Umarji, a Muslim cleric, under the repressive "Prevention of Terrorism Act" (POTA) on charges that he was involved in planning the Godhra attack on Hindus last February in which almost 60 people were killed, according to the British Broadcasting Company. The attacks came after the trainload of passengers taunted the mostly Muslim villagers about building a Hindu temple on the site of the Babri mosque in Ayodyha, which was destroyed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP.) According to Muslim leaders in the area, police tortured Mr. Umarji, a very widely respected figure in the community, and forced him to confess to receiving financial assistance from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai. Mr. Umarji had met with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and with Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi and had complained about police harassment of Muslims, according to the BBC.
"This is what happens to minorities in India when they refuse to go along with the government's genocidal designs against their people," said Dr. Gurmit Singh Aulakh, President of the Council of Khalistan, which leads the Sikh struggle for independence from India. So far, no one has been charged with any crime related to the massacre of Muslims last March in Gujarat in which 2,000 to 5,000 people were killed, according to the Indian newspaper The Hindu. Another Indian newspaper reported that the Indian government planned the Gujarat massacre in advance. Police were instructed to stand aside and not to stop the violence, in an eerie reminder of the 1984 Delhi massacre of Sikhs, when Sikh police officers were locked in their barracks to keep them from interfering while the state-run television and radio called for more Sikh blood. It does not matter whether it is a Congress government or a BJP government. Both are majority Hindu theocratic governments.
"Unfortunately, this appears to be part of a new wave of Indian tyranny and genocide against the minority populations," said Dr. Aulakh. "Look at the Cooper case also," he said.
Recently, American missionary Joseph Cooper was thrown out of India for preaching after he was beaten so badly by a group of militant, fundamentalist Hindu nationalists inspired by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the pro-Fascist organization that is the parent organization of the ruling BJP, as well as the violent, Hindu extremist organization called the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP.) The Cooper case is reminiscent of the murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines a few years ago by VHP activists. Staines and his two young sons were burned to death while they slept in their jeep. Their killers surrounded the jeep and chanted "Victory to Hannuman," a Hindu god. After the murder, Staines's widow, who was working with lepers, was expelled from India.
Two states controlled by BJP governments have recently passed laws making it a crime to convert to any religion except Hinduism. The BJP is calling for enactment of such anti-conversion laws across India. Last year, a cabinet minister said that everyone who lives in India must either be a Hindu or be subservient to Hindus. "It is clear from these actions that India is not the democracy it claims to be, but is instead a tyrannical Hindu theocracy," said Dr. Aulakh. "Unfortunately, the Umarji and Cooper cases are consistent with the pattern of Indian government efforts to protect its tyrannical rule over the minorities of South Asia." The government of India has murdered over 250,000 Sikhs since 1984, more than 200,000 Christians since 1948, over 85,000 Muslims in Kashmir since 1988, and tens of thousands of Tamils, Assamese, Manipuris, Dalits (the aboriginal people of the subcontinent), and others. Over 52,000 Sikhs are being held as political prisoners. The Indian Supreme Court called the Indian government's murders of Sikhs "worse than a genocide." On October 7, 1987, the Sikh Nation declared the independence of its homeland, Punjab, Khalistan. No Sikh representative has ever signed the Indian constitution. The Council of Khalistan is the government pro tempore of Khalistan, the Sikh homeland. The Sikh Nation demands freedom for its homeland, Khalistan.
"Only in a free and sovereign Khalistan will the Sikh Nation prosper. In a democracy, the right to self-determination is the sine qua non and India should allow a plebiscite for the freedom of the Sikh Nation and all the nations of South Asia," Dr. Aulakh said.
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2003-02-23 Sun 07:39ct