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Kashmir

Re.: Hearing on Religious Minorities in India

March 21, 2012

The following is the testimony given by Dr. Angana Chatterji at the US Congressional Hearing organized by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on March 21, 2012.

Angama Chatterji

Angana Chatterji

Representative Pitts, I thank you and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for honoring me with an invitation to testify at the hearing.

I would also like to acknowledge the dedicated work undertaken by civil society groups in support of the rights of non-dominant religious and ethnic groups and minorities in India, and in response to organized riots and violence against minorities, as well as by state and non-state bodies.

Orissa
The riots and organized violence against Christian minority communities in Orissa in December 2007 and August-October 2008 was not unexpected. In Orissa, since the mid-1990s, a formidable mobilization has been established by Hindutva groups, including in Kandhamal district. These groups have acted with impunity with adverse impact on society, economy, religion, and security. The Sangh Parivar ‘family’ of Hindutva, Hindu supremacist, organizations has a visible presence in twenty-five of thirty districts in Orissa, and has amassed between 35 and 40 major organizations (including paramilitary hate camps), and a massive base of a few million operating at every level of society.

December 23, 2007: Hindutva-affiliated Adivasi (tribal peoples) organizations organized a march rallying: “Stop Christianity. Kill Christians.”

In the violence of 2008 in Kandhamal, Christians, prevalently poor Dalits (erstwhile ‘untouchable’ groups) and Adivasis, were forced out from approximately 450 villages.

Approximately 4,901 homes were torched, including 101 places of worship. More than 18,000 persons were injured, as thousands sought refuge in nearby forests. Some Christians disappeared, some were tortured, including through rape, and approximately 92 were murdered.

The coordination of attacks across mountainous terrain in Kandhamal corroborate that the violence was planned, premeditated, and that the police had prior knowledge of them.

The number of persons that sought shelter in the relief camps operated by the state was 27,000 at its highest.

Post-violence, injunctions were issued to minority communities, Christian and Muslim, to hide or erase their “difference.” Forced conversions of non-Hindus to Hinduism continued. Economic and social boycotts, too, continued. Psychosocial restitution has been lacking.

State employees have intimated that minority groups must recant their grievances in order to escape further violation. Only 3,300 complaints have been lodged with the police by victims/survivors, of which, as few as 831 have been registered as First Information Reports, with only 510 charge sheets issued.

In January 2009, I documented testimonies of Christian women survivors of the 2008 riots that reveal the scope of the violence (From Chatterji, Violent Gods, Page 357-358):

“About five hundred people surrounded the body. His body was aflame. They killed Christians, buried them, then placed stones over the bodies to stop ‘resurrection.’”

Jammu and Kashmir
The rights of the Muslim community remain compromised and there continues at large criminalization of the community. There is also concern for the rights of certain groups that are in a minority in Jammu and Kashmir, such as Hindu Pandits. Jammu and Kashmir continues to be a nuclear flashpoint in the conflict between India and Pakistan. The actions and escalated militarization across the Af-Pak border zone, and the actions of violent groups across the Indo-Pak border, directly impact the security and integrity of lives in Jammu and Kashmir.

The armed militancy, which began in 1988, abated to nonviolent dissent between 2004-2007.

Since 1989, an extraordinary militarization has saturated life. Approximately 70,000 have died in Kashmir, including through extrajudicial or “fake encounter” executions, custodial brutality, and other means, and 8,000+ have been involuntarily disappeared. Lawyers have reportedly filed 15,000 petitions since 1990, inquiring, largely unsuccessfully, into the location and health of detainees and the charges against them.

Approximately 6,67,000 military and paramilitary personnel are stationed in Jammu and Kashmir at present. The psychological health of various soldiers remains precarious. Fifty-six soldiers committed suicide in Kashmir in 2008-2009, for example, with fifteen instances of fratricidal killing.

Laws, such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the Disturbed Areas Act, the Public Safety Act, provide legal immunity to security forces.

Notwithstanding confidence building measures and various other activities, the situation in Jammu and Kashmir remains critical.

BURIED EVIDENCE, a report authored by myself, Parvez Imroz, Khurram Parvez, Mihir Desai, et al., in December 2009, documented 2,700 unknown and unmarked graves containing 2,943+ bodies, including from extrajudicial executions by forces between 1990-2009. These findings were corroborated by the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission in July 2011.

Women have been victimized by horrific forms of brutality, including rape, gang and collective rape, used as a tool of torture and power.

There is need for ascertaining the status of minorities in Jammu and Kashmir, related to displacement, dislocation, and rehabilitation.

In Summer 2010, we documented a list of 51 civilians that were reportedly killed. In 2011, 56 civilians were killed.

There is urgent need for supporting the human rights of the affected civilian population as they live with the effects of the conflict, and holding all parties to the conflict (state and non-state) accountable in accordance with international standards.

Punjab
Sikhs are required to marry under the “Hindu Marriage Act,” since the Sikh Marriage Act was suspended in 1947. In August 2005, the Supreme Court of India declined minority status to Jains and Sikhs, depicting them as sub-sects of Hinduism.

Sikhs are regularly prevented from observing remembrance days for 1984, the year of massive Sikh killings. Incidents of police engaging, and allowing, the removal of turbans continue as a tactic of humiliation.

Cases of custodial torture are reported at regular intervals.

Gujarat 2002
* Between February 28 and March 2, 2002, approximately 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in Gujarat, aided and abetted by the state.
* Women and girls were beaten, thrown into wells, targeted for rape, gang rape, and collective rape, sexually mutilated and burnt.
* Ehsan Jafri, a former member of the Indian Parliament, made more than twenty phone calls seeking help; his pleas remained unanswered, he was brutally killed.
* The Government of Gujarat, lead by Hindu nationalist Chief Minister Narendra Modi, was grossly negligent in providing necessary support, security, relief, and rehabilitation measures to the victims.
* In Gujarat, after 2002, 240 people were held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 239 Muslims and one Sikh.
* A climate of terror permeates various segments of civil society in Gujarat even today.

Funding for Hindu Nationalism
Various diasporic charitable organizations affiliated with Hindutva ideologies operate in the United States and United Kingdom. These organizations routinely maintain links with Hindu nationalist leaders and organizations in India, including in Orissa. As well, these diasporic organizations seek to influence public discourse and policy in the United States in relation to India.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Indian American Muslim Council
6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295
Morton Grove, IL60053
http://www.iamc.com

To:
The Board of Trustees
California Institute of Integral Studies
1453 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

 

Subject: Call for reinstatement of Professors Angana Chatterji and Richard Shapiro

Dear Board of Trustees,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy group dedicated to promoting pluralism, tolerance, and respect for human rights that form the basis of the world’s two largest secular democracies – the United States and India.

It is with grave concern that we have noted CIIS’s suspension of two distinguished academics, Professors Angana Chatterji and Richard Shapiro on July 19, 2011. Several disturbing aspects of the suspension lend credence to the belief that the suspension, and possible termination, are politically motivated:

 A. The suspension has been imposed, and an undisclosed investigation initiated against the two professors, in violation of protocol and procedure in CIIS’s own Faculty and Student Handbooks.

B. There has been no public response from the CIIS administrators to the letter from American Association of University Professors (AAUP), dated August 11, 2011 urging reinstatement of the professors. Moreover CIIS has refused AAUP’s offer to send a neutral observer to CIIS to witness the proceedings.

C. The Academic Vice President (AVP) has aired allegations against Professors Chatterji and Shapiro while restrictions have been placed on the faculty from refuting such allegations.

 

Both Chatterji and Shapiro have earned wide acclaim for their work, at CIIS as well as internationally. At a time when human rights violations across the world have seen an alarming increase, Prof. Chatterji’s work as an international social justice scholar and activist has been widely commended. As the co-convener of the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-Administered Kashmir, Prof. Chatterji has shone a light on brutal human rights violations, some of which are only now being acknowledged by the government of Jammu and Kashmir. Prior to that, she has undertaken ground-breaking scholarship and advocacy work for the rights of minority communities in India, including Muslims, Adivasis, and Dalits. In 2008, IAMC awarded Prof. Chatterji the “Tipu Sultan Award for Courageously Serving India.”

Prof. Shapiro’s work in the spheres of social justice, cultural diversity and ecological sustainability for the last 25 years has earned him the respect and admiration of his peers as well as students. As the co-founder of the Jewish-Muslim Friendship Circle in Kashmir, Prof. Shapiro has amply demonstrated his commitment to interfaith harmony and cultural diversity. For over two decades now, he has been a leader in developing alliance building frameworks and emancipator education for social change.

The suspension of these two luminaries from CIIS on dubious grounds raises questions about CIIS’s commitment to academic freedom, and its own stated goal “to further the effectiveness of emancipator movements such as feminism, social and political liberation, cultural self-expression, and ecological activism”.

Instead of providing support to Prof. Chatterji and Prof. Shapiro for their significant contributions to social justice and sustainable development, CIIS has chosen to adopt a path that smacks of intimidation and autocratic governance for reasons that merit further investigation. It is not surprising that a significant number of students at CIIS have come out in open support of Professors Chatterji and Shapiro and have retained legal counsel to bring about their reinstatement. IAMC is appalled by the fact that CIIS has shown complete indifference to concerns raised about its handling of this issue.

We urge you to be true to your ideals, and revoke the suspension order against Professors Chatterji and Shapiro with immediate effect. If there are credible grievances against these two academics, we urge you to deal with them through established procedures at CIIS. At stake is not only the quality of education at CIIS, but also its commitment to uphold the ideals on which our nation was founded.

Sincerely,

Shaheen Khateeb
President, IAMC

 

RELATED LINKS

Mass Graves Hold Thousands, Kashmir Inquiry Finds
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/23/world/asia/23kashmir.html

Hindutva then and now: ‘Violent Gods: Hindu nationalism in India’s present’ by Angana Chatterji and ‘Savarkar and Hindutva’ by A. G. Noorani
http://www.himalmag.com/component/content/article/39.html

Persecution of Professors Angana Chatterji and Richard Shapiro
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-206-2011

 

Contact:
Shaheen Khateeb
6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295
Morton Grove, IL 60053
phone/fax: 1-800-839-7270
email: info@iamc.com

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IMC-USA deplores the humanitarian situation in Kashmir; appeals to all sides to maintain peace

August 26, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 26 August 2008 Indian Muslim Council – USA (IMC-USA), an advocacy group working toward safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, strongly condemns the blockade of Kashmir Valley by the Amarnath Yatra Sangharsha Samiti. The economic blockade of the Valley has caused havoc and untold suffering to the civilian population of Kashmir. According […]

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IMC-USA Condemns the Massacre of innocent civilians in Kashmir

April 30, 2006
May 1, 2006.

The Indian Muslim Council-USA, an advocacy organization of Muslims in the United States hailing from India and dedicated to the promotion of pluralism, mourns the loss of innocent lives in Kashmir.

According to media reports 35 Hindu civilians were massacred in Kashmir.

Dr. Shaik Ubaid President of IMC-USA said, "We condemn this cowardly, barbaric and heinous massacre. We stand in sympathy with the families and friends of those who were killed in cold blood, and request an immediate investigation of the incidents. We demand that the perpetrators be brought to justice to the fullest extent of law and the victims families be compensated."

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IMC-USA Condemns Series of Explosions in Srinagar and Jama Masjid

April 14, 2006

April 15, 2006

Indian Muslim Council – USA (http://www.imc-usa.org), an advocacy group dedicated to promoting pluralism in India and the US, condemned the series of explosions in Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir and in the most famous Mosque in India the Delhi Jama Masjid that killed 5 and injured scores of innocent civilians including worshipers. IMC-USA urges a high-level investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice.

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IMC-USA condemns the massacre of pandits in Kashmir

March 23, 2003

Washington D.C., 03/24/2003. Indian Muslim Council-USA, a Washington based advocacy group working toward safeguarding Indian society’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, condemns the massacre of innocent civilians in Kashmir.

According to news reports, on March 24, 2003, 24 Hindus were killed in the southern town of Shopian by gunmen dressed in Indian army uniforms.

“Such senseless acts of violence cannot serve any purpose” said Dr. Shaik Ubaid, President of IMC-USA. “We stand united with the victims of this tragedy and their families.”

Dr. Ubaid demanded that an impartial commission be set up to investigate this attack, fearing that India’s ruling Hindu ultra-nationalist party, the BJP, would manipulate the investigation for its own political purposes as it has done in the past.

Ref:
24 Pandits killed in Kashmir
http://www.rediff.com/news/2003/mar/24jk.htm
24 Slain in Kashmir Massacre
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/03/23/world/main545642.shtml

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