By Satya D
New York: Can a conference on terrorism in the US be without a discussion on 9/11 incidents? But here is the irony. A conference on “Group violence, terrorism and impunity – challenges to secularism and rule of law in India” was organized at MIT on April 9. A debate addressing the ongoing turmoil in Indian subcontinent from terrorism and Naxal violence is welcome. However, a close look at the conference organizer Omar Khalidi and the agenda of the conference painted a different picture. Its exclusive selection of topics and its speakers showed that the outcome of this conference was preordained.
The truth about the agenda of this conference was reflected by the fact that it did not even mention the long lasting struggle of Kashmiris, who were driven away by Islamic terrorists from their homes and are now living in squalid camps as refugees in their own country for the past 18 years. “The Fact India Ex-hibition” was shown to the US Congressmen in 2006, when the Congress passed a resolution on Kashmir. A recent article points out to raising voices for 2,000 Muslims killed, but it questions why nothing was said when 2.4 million Hindus were killed in 1971 or the 250,000 Kashmiris forced out of their homes in Kashmir.
As per the report tabled by the UPA government in the Indian Parliament in 2005, the total number of people died in Gujarat was 1044, out of whom, 790 were Muslims and 254 were Hindus. Does this qualify to a pogrom of only one community, especially when it is triggered by the a brutal incident targeted against other community, whose families till today have not received any kind of compensation from the Central or state government? Why this predominant focus on only one riot when Gujarat when the country has history of so many riots?
An article in Times of India dated November 30, 2008 mentions that nearly 7,000 people lost their lives since 2004 in over 25,000 incidents, according to the Home Ministry. According to US National Counter Terrorism and other media articles, the number of people killed due to terror incidents in India between 2004 and 2008 is only next the figure in to war-torn Iraq. What is the root of this violence? Who is supporting and perpetrating it? But such discussions are not important topics for the MIT conference.
Take Naxal violence, which is supported by Marxists and has affected more than one-third of India (212 out of 604 districts as per 2007 data), which from 1998 to 2007 caused more than 5,000 civilians and 1,300 security forces killed in 14,046 incidents. These figures are according to data of the government of India. Just last year, this has taken a new dimension and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pointed out, “It would not be an exaggeration to say that the problem of Naxalism is the single biggest security challenge ever faced by our country.” But this topic was not part of the MIT conference.
I urge all to look at the background of many of the speakers at the MIT conference. It is not just who is speaking but also who are also not speaking (such as K.P.S. Gill and Ajit Doval). Some of the speakers at this conference had spoken about human rights of people across different continents but not a single word of sympathy or compassion to the ongoing brutal genocide of Bangla-deshi Hindus.
If only MIT board members read what Omar Khalidi has written about secularism in India and reflect on what it translates to the United States with its Christian identity of the country where Omar Khalidi currently resides, they will realize what they are dealing with. If only they see through the presentation of truth by him with careful selection of topics, speakers and data to paint a picture, they may question the purpose of the conference. What is most dangerous is that his narrow views are being used by the Indian government via committees such as the Sachar Committee to create division and unrest in India.
What is worse is speakers like Angana Chatterjee are well known for their bias and untruths to project a given picture.
The selectiveness with which only certain communities are pointed and other are not in conferences by so-called human rights activists such as these shows that there is a price for human rights. It is tough luck if we are not a community who can deliver the price or if we cannot organize ourselves to counter it.