Coalition to Support Democracy and Pluralism in India. PCP Report.
26 May 2003
Washington, DC. June 10, 2003. The Peace Vigil organized by coalition partners at the Gandhi Statue in Washington DC today was peaceful and successful. Many individuals from the Indian community took part in the vigil. The participants included people from several religious backgrounds: Hindus, Christians and Muslims. The vigil started at 3 PM. Many family members of the victims of Gujarat riots took part in the vigil. Zuber Jafri, son of the slain former member of Parliament Mr. Ahsan Jafri and others wanted to ask Mr. Advani, why he uses violence and terrorist tactics to gain political power in India.
The Peace Vigil was organized to protect the interest of the people of India from dangerous politics of RSS and BJP. Indian Americans have utmost concern for the political developments in India since it directly affects the members of their family who live in India. The Coalition also presented copies of the letters sent to the President, the Vice President, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, Secretary of Homeland Security, The Attorney General, and the National Security Advisor to the President.
Prof. Mohan Bhagat, one of the participants in the vigil, mentioned that 'not having a token protest against the representative of the BJP lead government would be construed as acceptance of their policies among all Indian Americans'. He stressed the importance of having the people to come and express their feelings in a peaceful manor. A petition signed by over 150 individuals was presented to Mr. Advani through an official of the Indian Embassy.
Prof. Ashwini Tambe said that the military collaboration between right wing forces in India and the US in the name of fighting terrorism does not bode well since the BJP has condoned terrorizing of Muslims and Christians in India. She also said, 'it is particularly symbolic to have the vigil at the Gandhi statue as Mr. Advani's policies directly contradict the principles and heritage of non-violence in India'.
John Prabhudoss, one of the organizers of the Coalition said, he received positive responses from various US Administration officials. He expressed concerns over the short sighted policies and urged the US Administration to think how today's policies would affect the interest of the civil society and human values in the long term.
Correction: Many members of the Association for India's Development and the California Institute of Integral Studies personally endorsed the letter but not on behalf of their organizations. The error is deeply regretted for any inconvenience it may have caused. For final list of signatories to the letter please refer to the June 10th (final) version.