IMC-USA Expresses Alarm at Anti-Christian Violence in Orissa; Demands the State and Central Governments to Act Immediately

Washington, DC, August 30, 2008 --( Indian Muslim Council-USA (IMC-USA), an advocacy group working toward safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, denounces in the strongest terms, the ongoing massacre of Christians and the killing of the Hindutva leader in the Indian state of Orissa.

According to news reports, dozens of Christians have been killed, hundreds injured and many torched alive by mercenaries belonging to Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal and other Hindu supremacist groups. Reports from the ground also indicate that hundreds of churches have been destroyed and thousands of Christians had to flee into the jungle to avoid massacre.

“This is nothing but a repeat of the 2002 Gujarat carnage, only this time the target is the Christian minority” said IMC-USA President Mr. Rasheed Ahmed, commenting on the violence. “If the state government, which is in alliance with the BJP, cannot maintain law and order and save the lives and property of its citizens, the Central government should impose president’s rule and send the armed forces to stop the pogroms.” he further added.

The latest violence against the Christians started after the killing of VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four others by suspected Maoists. Rasheed Ahmed, deplored the incident saying: “Killing is a heinous crime irrespective of who the victim or perpetrator is”. Laxmanananda Saraswati was at the forefront of anti-Christian campaigns and was reported to be behind the widespread destruction of properties during the ‘Black Christmas’ in 2007.

Orchestrated pogroms against religious minorities by Hindu nationalist groups have become a regular feature of Indian politics in recent years. Often these pogroms occur in Hindu nationalist (BJP) ruled states which extend police protection and impunity to the rampaging Hindutva activists perpetrating the violence.

Indian Muslim Council-USA is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 10 chapters across the nation.

Syed Ali Rahman

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Indian Muslim Council-USA
Syed Ali Rahman