Is India an Ally or a Terrorist State?
Hon. Dan Burton of Indiana
MR. BURTON OF INDIANA: Mr. Speaker, recently, the news website NewsMax.com ran a vary comprehensive article called "India: Allies or Instigators?" It details India's pattern of abuse against the Christians, Sikhs, Muslims, and other minorities, its anti-Americanism, and its support of terrorism against its neighbors.
The article shows that the Indian government has killed tens of thousands of Sikhs, Christians, Muslims, and other minorities; that it holds tens of thousands of political prisoners; and it is funding terrorism in Pakistan and created and supported the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), an organization the U.S. government has called a "terrorist" organization. It shows India's domestic terrorism against Sikhs, Christians, Muslims, and all the other minority groups.
Reading this article should cause any fair-minded reader to ask whether or not India is a terrorist state seeking hegemony in South Asia and questions whether India is a country we should trust as an ally. The United States should work for freedom for all the people of the subcontinent. I was proud to be one of 42 Members of Congress from both parties who signed a letter urging President Bush to press for the release of Sikh and other political prisoners in India. The Administration should do that. But it should do more.
After reading this article, it is clearly time for the U.S. government to cut off its aid to India and to come out in support of self-determination for all the peoples and nations of South Asia. This is the best way to spread liberty, democracy, prosperity, and true stability to the subcontinent.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to place the article into the RECORD at this time. I urge my colleagues and all people interested in South Asian affairs to read it.
India: Allies or Instigators?
Trouble is brewing again in South Asia, as India and Pakistan move troops to their border. The recent violence in Gujarat, in which over 540 people have been killed, has merely heightened tensions.
It follows an attack by Muslims on a train full of Hindu activists headed for Ayodhya, where the BJP government in India is seeking to build a Hindu temple on the site where the most revered mosque in India was destroyed by Hindu militants a few years ago. It was reported that the passengers were taunting the Muslims by chanting slogans about rebuilding the temple.
Unfortunately, India , which proclaims itself "the world's largest democracy", has made moves that undermine America's war on terrorism. Indian military maneuvers have forced Pakistan to divert troops from the border with Afghanistan to the Line of Control in Kashmir, creating a potential opening for terrorists to escape.
On January 2, Tony Blankley wrote in the Washington Times that India is sponsoring cross-border terrorism in the Pakistani province of Sindh.
Journalist Tavleen Singh has reported in India's leading newsmagazine, India Today, that the Indian government created the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which the U.S. government has identified as a "terrorist organization".
According to Internet journalist Justin Raimondo, the Indian Defense Minister, George Fernandes, raised money and arms for the LTTE.
Pakistan and minorities within India's borders charge that India is seeking hegemony in the South Asian subcontinent. Certainly its deployment of new missiles that can reach deep into Pakistan and its tests that began the nuclear escalation in the region suggest that this may be true.
While India blames Pakistan for the attack on its Parliament, President Pervez Musharraf says he has evidence that the Indian government itself was responsible. No Indian soldiers were killed, just guards, workers, and other lower-caste people.
The book Soft Target, written by Canadian journalists Brian McAndrew of the Toronto Star and Zuhair Kashmeri of the Toronto Globe and Mail, shows that India blew up its own airliner in 1985, killing 329 people, apparently in order to blame Sikhs for the atrocity and create a pretext for more violence against them.
It shows that the Indian Consul General in Toronto pulled his daughter off the flight shortly before it was due to depart. An auto dealer who was a friend of the Consul General also cancelled his reservation at the last minute. Surinder Singh, director of North American Affairs for the External Affairs office in New Delhi, also cancelled his reservation on that flight. The Consul General also called to finger a suspect in the case before the public knew that the bombing had taken place. The book quotes an agent of the Canadian State Investigative Service (CSIS) as saying, "If you really want to clear the incidents quickly. take vans down to the Indian High Commission and the consulates in Toronto and Vancouver, load up everybody and take them down for questioning. We know it and they know it that they are involved."
India has a long record of Anti-Americanism. On May 18, 1999, The Indian Express reported that Mr. Fernandes, the Defense Minister, organized and led a meeting with the Ambassadors from Red China, Cuba, Russia, Yugoslavia, Libya, and Iraq to discuss setting up a security alliance "to stop the U.S."
India votes against the United States at the United Nations more often than any country except Cuba. It had a long term friendship with the former Soviet Union and supported its invasion of Afghanistan.
India's implicit support for terrorist activity is consistent with its internal behavior. It has a record of repression of minorities that undermines its proclamation of democratic values.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which leads a 23-party coalition, is a branch of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), an organization founded in 1925 in support of the Fascists.
The governing ideology of the BJP and all the branches of the RSS is Hindutva, the subjugation of society, politics, and culture to Hinduism. Last year, a cabinet member said that everyone living in India must either be a Hindu or be subservient to Hinduism. And in New York in 2000, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said, "I will always be a Swayamsewak." This is the ideology behind the attacks on Christians, Sikhs, Muslims, and other minorities.
The target of choice these days seems to be Christians. Human-rights organizations report that more than 200,000 Christians in Negaland have been killed by the Indian government.
On February 17, the Associated Press reported an attack on the Catholic church on the outskirts of Bangalore in which several people were injured. The assailants threw stones at the church, then broke in, breaking furniture and smashing windows before attacking worshipers. the February 25 issue of the Washington Times reported another church attack in which 20 people were wounded.
In February, two church workers and a teenage boy were shot at while they prayed. The boy was injured. Two Christian missionaries were beaten with iron rods while they rode their bicycles home. A Christian cemetery in Port Blair was vandalized.
These attacks continue a pattern of oppression of Christians that has been going on heavily since Christmas 1998. Since then, members of the RSS have murdered priests, raped nuns, burned churches, and committed other atrocities with impunity.
The RSS published a booklet last year detailing how to file false criminal cases against Christians and other religious minorities. The RSS objects to the presence of missionaries in India.
The missionaries are having a good deal of success in converting members of the lower castes, especially Dalits, also known as "Untouchables". This removes the lower-caste people from the stratification of the caste system, which is essential to the Hindu religion and social structure.
RSS activists also burned a missionary and his two sons to death while they slept in their jeep. They surrounded the jeep and chanted "Victory to Hannuman", a Hindu god. Now the Indian authorities have found a single individual to blame and they are moving to throw the missionary's widow out of the country. In 1997, Indian police broke up a Christian religious festival with gunfire.
In 1994, the U.S. State Department reported that the Indian government paid out over 41,000 cash bounties to police officers for killing members of the Sikh minority. In the same year, the Indian newspaper Hitavada reported that the Indian government paid the late governor of Punjab, Surendra Nath, the equivalent of $1.5 billion to foment terrorist activity in Punjab and in Kashmir.
According to the book The Politics of Genocide, over 250,000 Sikhs have been killed by the Indian government's forces. According to human-rights groups, Indian forces have killed over 75,000 Muslims in Kashmir and thousands of other minorities, including Dalit "untouchables", Tamils, and other groups.
A report issued last year by the Movement Against State Repression (MASR) showed that India admitted to holding 52,268 political prisoners. Amnesty International reports that tens of thousands of other minorities are also being held as political prisoners.
These prisoners continue to be held under a law called the "Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act" (TADA), which expired in 1995, It empowered the government to hold people virtually indefinitely for any offense or for no offense at all.
According to many reports, some of these political prisoners have been in custody for almost two decades. Amnesty International reported last year that tens of thousands of minorities are being held as political prisoners. On February 28, 42 Members of the U.S. Congress wrote to President Bush asking him to work for freedom for these political prisoners.
MASR also co-sponsored with the Punjab Human Rights Organization an Investigation of the March 2000 massacre of 35 Sikhs in Chithisinghpora. It concluded that Indian forces carried out the massacre. A separate investigation conducted by the International Human Rights Organization came to the same conclusion.
As Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Cal.) said on the floor of Congress on August 2, 1999, "for the people in Kashmir and Punjab and Jammu, India might as well be Nazi Germany".
In the words of Narinder Singh, a spokesman for the Golden Temple, the seat of the Sikh religion, who was interviewed in August 1997 by National Public Radio, "The Indian government, all the time they boast that they are secular, that they are democratic. But they have nothing to do with a democracy, nothing to do with a secularism. They just kill Sikhs to please the majority."
In the March 4 issue of Forbes, Steve Forbes compared India to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, arguing that as a multinational State, India is inherently unstable. Prior to the British conquest of the subcontinent, there was no political entity called India. It was a series of princely states brought together by the British.
The Kashmiri people were promised a referendum on their status in 1948, but that vote has never been held. The Sikhs, who were supposed to receive independence, have never had any of their representatives sign the Indian constitution. Instead of respecting "the glow of freedom" that Nehru and Patel promised the Sikhs, the government declared them a "criminal class" as the ink was dry on the constitution. Currently, 17 freedom movements are going on within India's borders.
Some Members of Congress have called for sanctions against India and for an end to American aid. Some have also endorsed self-determination for the peoples seeking freedom from India through a plebiscite on independence. While these events seem unlikely to occur any time soon, the Indian government has held negotiations with the freedom fighters in predominantly Christian Nagaland. Home Minister L.K. Advani recently admitted that if Kashmir achieves freedom (which now seems more likely than ever), it will cause India to break apart.
Some experts have predicted that within a decade, neither India nor Pakistan will exist in the form we know them presently. The Indian subcontinent will continue to be a region that bears close attention by American policymakers.