Stage Set for the June 28th Landmark Event

June 02, 2003

Santa Clara, CA.- Smita Narula, Senior Researcher, Human Rights Watch – Asia Division and John Prabhudoss, Executive Director of Policy Institute for Religion and State have joined the illustrious list of speakers for the first annual convention of the Indian Muslim Council-USA.

Praful Bidwai, one of the most widely read Indian Columnists and Fr. Cedric Prakash, a moral voice of the highest stature will be among the speakers coming from India to speak at the event. Dr. K.P. Singh, the Convenor of the International Association of the Advancement of Dalit People, will be another star attraction. Writer and activist Arundathi Roy, one of the most sought after speakers on the international lecture circuit is also invited to speak at the event which is expected to become an annual tradition for scholars, activists and all concerned about the brutal siege of India’s pluralist and democratic ethos by Hindutva ultranationalists.

The day and a half event with the theme, “India After Gujarat – Democracy or Religious Fanaticism”, will also be addressed by prominent scholars an social scientists such as Dr. Raka Ray, Lise McKean and Angana Chatterji. Along with Kulmeet Singh of the Sikh Coalition, several other prominent leaders and representatives of Dalit, Hindu and Indian-Christian communities will also address the convention.

In February of this year, IMC-USA, an advocacy organization working to promote values of pluralism, tolerance and respect for human rights, with a particular focus on the Indian Diaspora in the United States, launched a series of public events nationwide to mark the first anniversary of the anti-Muslim pogrom in the Indian State of Gujarat. The campaign commenced with a Congressional staff briefing on February 24th and a press conference on Capitol Hill and will end with the IMC convention on June 29th at the Santa Clara Marriott.

February 28th marked the day in 2002, when the Hindutva ultranationalist forces that espouse a hate-based and divisive ideology, and are modeled after Mussolini’s Fascist and Hitler’s Nazi parties, unleashed a well planned pogrom on minorities in the Indian state of Gujarat. The pogrom helped them win the elections in Gujarat at a time when their political fortunes were in a decline. Hindutva leaders are now calling for a repeat of this “successful experiment” in other Indian states.

Indian human rights activists and International human rights organizations have expressed alarm over this trend. They point to the increasing attacks on Muslims, Christians and Dalits all over India. Human rights groups are also concerned about news reports of the infiltration of segments of the Indian population in the US by the Hindutva-fascist forces and their attempts to gain influence in US power centers such as Capitol Hill and the media.

“There is tremendous enthusiasm for the convention among the Indian diaspora, said Rashad Azhar, the chairman of the technology committee of IMC-USA. Mohammad Raafay, the Assistant Secretary General of IMC-USA reminded the delegates to pre-register before the registration fee increase deadline of June 21st.

For more information and to register, delegates and journalists can do the following:
Visit: http://www.imc-usa.org/convention
Phone: (516) 567-0783
E-mail: program@imc-usa.org

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