Dear Mr. MacAskill,
Your report on 9th July in Bloomberg on Amit Shah’s appointment as President of the Bharatiya Janata Party confirms what Hindu Nationalists have always known – that Hindu nationalism is the stuff of America’s worst nightmares and Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are America’s most terrifying bogeymen wrecking a good night’s sleep.
As we say in Tamil, “a rope is a snake for eyes clouded by fear.” Bloomberg’s news report screaming “snake!” attests to this fear. I assure you we understand: Hindu nationalism has always had this effect on global bullies. We understand too that fear of Modi and Shah consuming America today is the same fear that gripped Imperial Britain when confronted by Tilak, Aurobindo and Savarkar.
Mr. MacAskill, your story on Amit Shah draws heavily from the 2010 CBI report which I think compares well with the Iraq Dossier which your then Secretary of State presented before the UN Security Council as America’s case to invade and occupy a sovereign country in the guise of humanitarian intervention. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein’s backyard as claimed by the dossier which eventually was exposed to be a tome of lies. The 2010 CBI report is rapidly moving towards a similar denouement.
You must admit Mr. MacAskill, it was short-sighted on your part to have employed such colourful language to describe the life and times of Amit Shah on the basis of a discredited report prepared by a discredited organization. The CBI under Sonia Gandhi, Mr. MacAskill, played the same role in making its case against Modi and Shah that the United Nations, under the sway of Bush father and son and under Clinton, played in Iraq.
From 1990 to 2003 America forced the UN to apply total economic sanctions against Iraq – sanctions which killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi women, children, the old and the infirm. The sanctions ended only when America invaded and occupied Iraq in March 2003, ravaging and plundering an ancient civilization, and in the process causing widespread destruction of property, death and disease.
Mr. MacAskill, you are urged to keep in mind the millions of ordinary Iraqis who have died because of America’s foreign policy towards Iraq since 1990. And I am not even counting the bodies of ordinary people who have died in Afghanisthan, Libya, Haiti, Egypt and Syria as a consequence of prolonged and interminable social, economic and political instability caused by violent and bloody regime changes effected by America in these countries.
Iraq has since descended slowly and painfully into utter political and economic chaos. Your country’s diabolical “humanitarian intervention” in Iraq has unleashed the very same jihadis kept forcefully under control by Saddam Hussein and you Mr. MacAskill have the temerity to quote entire paragraphs from the CBI fable to launch your broadside against Modi and Amit Shah.
“Amit Shah is on trial for ordering three murders, kidnapping witnesses, running an extortion racket and hiring criminals to shoot up a rival’s headquarters. Between court hearings he’ll now be running India’s ruling party.”
This kind of multi-tasking is probably mindboggling to you because unlike American Presidents Amit Shah can walk, talk and chew gum at the same time.
You also say Mr. MacAskill,
“During that time, Shah ran an extortion racket with the help of police officers as well as Sohrabuddin Sheikh, a local businessman, according to a 2010 report filed by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation. In one case, Shah extracted 7 million rupees ($117,000) from a businessman after threatening to harm his family, the report says.”
The Iraq Dossier too said many things about Saddam Hussein but I do not wish to rub it in. You Mr. MacAskill have described Amit Shah as murderer and extortionist while Sohrabuddin Sheikh in your Wonderland is “a local businessman”. Just to demonstrate the unreal world in which most American opinion makers live, let me present to you an entirely accurate description of “businessman” Sohrabuddin Sheikh.
Sohrabuddin was an underworld gangster who was involved in nearly two dozen serious criminal offences in (the) states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. He maintained transnational links with anti-India forces from the early ‘90s onwards, until his death in 2005. Working with mafia dons like Dawood Ibrahim and Abdul Latif, he procured weapons and explosives from Pakistan and supplied them to various terrorist and anti-national groups (had it not been for his activity, at least some terrorist acts could have been averted). Sohrabuddin was solidly entrenched in the criminal world for a decade-and-a-half. Around the time he was killed, the Rajasthan government had announced a reward on his head. In 1999, he had been detained under the National Security Act by the Madhya Pradesh government. In a 1994 case investigated by the Ahmedabad crime branch, he was co-accused along with Dawood Ibrahim and convicted for five years, for waging war against the Government of India, planning an attack on the Jagannath Rath Yatra in Orissa, and other offences under the IPC, Arms Act, etc. During the investigation, 24 AK-56 rifles, 27 hand grenades, 5250 cartridges, 81 magazines and more were seized from his family home in Madhya Pradesh. In 2004, a fourth crime was registered against him by Chandgad police station of Kolhapur district in Maharashtra under sections 302, 120 (b), and 25 (1) (3) of the Arms Act, for the killing of Gopal Tukaram Badivadekar. As fear of him often silenced people from reporting his whereabouts, let alone deposing against him, the Rajasthan government had to announce a reward on his head after he killed Hamid Lata in broad daylight in the heart of Udaipur, on December 31, 2004.
Guess who wrote this? A certain Ajit Doval, who was former Director, Intelligence Bureau, Founder-Director, Vivekananda International Foundation. Ajit Doval now happens to be India’s National Security Adviser.
Mr. MacAskill, according to our National Security Adviser, Sohrabuddin Sheikh was a Muslim terrorist with close links to the Muslim underworld with a bounty on his head. And yet, despite being posted in Delhi as a journalist, you failed to do your homework, failed to do any serious research on the issue, but instead chose to cut and paste a worthless document calling a wanted terrorist “a local businessman”.
In your theatre of the absurd Mr. MacAskill, where Amit Shah is an extortionist and Sohrabuddin Sheikh is a local businessman, Osama Bin Laden would have been a corporate honcho and Barack Obama an American Mafioso.
Just like the Iraq Dossier and the 2010 CBI report which you quote as if it were the Indian Constitution Mr. MacAskill, the fungus-ridden American foreign policy towards India is crumbling right under our noses. After the BJP announced Narendra Modi as their prime ministerial candidate, the US Congress and the USCIRF wasted no time and immediately ratcheted up their anti-Modi, anti-Hindu rhetoric castigating the BJP for its decision to fight the elections under Narendra Modi.
Hindu nationalists have peeled and held up the “freedom of religion and conscience” onion peddled by the US State Department. When Americans say “freedom of religion,” they mean the inalienable right of the evangelical church (of all denominations and persuasions from every corner of the globe) to employ every trick in the trade to proselytize, lure, bribe, entice and convert Hindus to Christianity. And America’s unapologetic Christian bias stands exposed in the November 2013 USCIRF lament over Modi.
Anti-Christian violence followed the August 2008 murder of a Hindu leader in Odisha, even though Maoists claimed responsibility. The U.S. State Department reported 40 deaths, 134 injuries, destroyed churches and homes, and more than 10,000 fleeing the state. In December 2007, in Odisha, Hindu-Christian clashes caused several deaths, dozens of injuries, thousands displaced, and devastated churches and homes. Most notoriously, in February 2002 in Gujarat, Hindu mobs killed as many as 2500 mostly Muslims, forced 100,000 to flee, and destroyed homes. Christians also were killed and churches demolished. India’s National Human Rights Commission cited pre-meditated violence by Hindu nationalists, complicity by state governmental officials, and police inaction.
But the poster child for India’s failure to punish the violent remains Narendra Modi, who is Gujarat’s chief minister – a post he held during the 2002 riots. Gujarat’s high court rapped the Modi administration for inaction and ordered compensation for religious structures that suffered damage.
In 2005, the U.S. State Department agreed with the recommendation of USCIRF and others to revoke Modi’s visa. True, in April 2012, the highest court’s Special Investigative Team failed to prove guilt against Modi and others in a case involving the deaths of nearly 70 people. But he remains implicated in other Gujarat-associated cases that have yet to be investigated or adjudicated. That is why, more recently, 65 members of India’s parliament reportedly wrote to President Barak Obama, requesting that he not issue Modi a visa. Sadly, despite all this, Gujarat’s most controversial resident is the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party candidate in India’s 2014 prime ministerial election. It was another son of Gujarat, Mahatma Gandhi, who once offered a broad, tolerant vision for the country and its multi-religious society. So, as 2014 draws nigh, whose vision will be embraced? Which India will prevail – that of religious freedom or religious intolerance? Time will tell. (The Two Faces of India, November 12, 2013 http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2013/11/12/the-two-faces-of-india/)
Exactly a week later on November 20, 2013 as if on cue, the American House of Representatives passed a bipartisan resolution welcoming the US State Department’s continued refusal to give Modi a visa to visit the US. As Hindu nationalists keep repeating: it is a visa Modi never asked for.
A bipartisan resolution introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this week has praised the U.S. government for holding firm to its 2005 decision to deny Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi a visa to enter the U.S.
Introduced on Monday evening, House Resolution 417 also urged the Government of India to “to publicly oppose the exploitation of religious differences and denounce harassment and violence against religious minorities, especially in the run-up to India’s general elections in 2014.”
Marking what appeared to be stronger support within the U.S. Congress for religious minorities’ rights in India, the resolution noted, “Contrary to the tolerant and pluralistic traditions of the Hindu faith, strands of the Hindu nationalist movement have advanced a divisive and violent agenda that has harmed the social fabric of India.”
In this context, the resolution called for religious freedom and related human rights to be included in the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, which is a key mechanism for progress in bilateral cooperation in recent years. The resolution also suggested that such issues ought to be raised “directly with federal and state Indian Government officials when appropriate.” (http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/protect-indias-religious-minorities-us-house-resolution/article5368540.ece)
Mr. MacAskill, your report on Amit Shah taking over as BJP chief toes the official American line on Hindu nationalists, and in its tone and content adheres faithfully to the line handed to all America by the USCIRF and American Congress. So much for media independence in America and the spirit of investigative journalism.
Notwithstanding all the hyperventilation and fulminations of important American agencies against Modi and Shah, your President, Mr. MacAskill, knowing that it was Amit Shah crafted Modi’s spectacular victory in Uttar Pradesh and through Uttar Pradesh, elections 2014, wasted no time in calling Modi the very next day after results were announced, to not only congratulate Modi but expressed his desire to work closely with Modi’s government.
America’s mildewed foreign policy towards India had begun to crumble at the edges. President Barack Obama knows he has no option but to deal with Modi and the Amit Shah-led BJP, and devil take the hindmost on “freedom of religion and conscience”, “rights of religious minorities”, and other high-minded foreign policy-jargon that fools only the naivest. Remember what Modi said with such quiet confidence in an interview to an Indian news channel Mr. MacAskill? I am sure President Obama did.
“When the nation sends out a signal of strength, neighbours and adversaries will also change”.
Mr. MacAskill when you wrote your report to coincide with the visit of top American diplomat Bill Burns, he was the latest in a never-ending series of American diplomats and politicians making a beeline for Modi’s 7 RCR. America needs India Mr. MacAskill to provide impetus to its own shattered economy. So what precisely is at stake here for America?
On Thursday, Mr. Burns met Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Home Minister Rajnath Singh to set the stage for the Strategic Dialogue between Secretary of State John Kerry and Ms. Swaraj, that will be held in Delhi on July 31.
Apart from moving forward on the nuclear deal by signing commercial agreements, the U.S. is also keen to discuss India’s interest in the FGM-148 Javelin missile, built by U.S. companies Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, with a view to supplying the Indian Army with anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), or to co-develop them. U.S. Senator John McCain, who represents Arizona, where the Javelin is produced, also met with the PM and the Defence Ministry.http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/burns-to-meet-modi-with-obamas-invite/article6198877.ece?ref=relatedNews
That’s quite a big and ambitious wish list that America is bringing to Modi. No wonder American diplomats and politicians are beating a frenzied path to Modi’s doorstep. Mr. MacAskill do you really think your report on Amit Shah is going to influence your President at this juncture? And do you really think when Secretary of State John Kerry and India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj sit across the table for the Strategic Dialogue on the 31st of this month, John Kerry and his team will really want “religious freedom and related human rights” to be included in the U.S-India Strategic Dialogue, which is a key mechanism for “progress in bilateral cooperation in recent years” as stated by the bipartisan House Resolution 417?
Get real Mr. MacAskill. The America we know today came into being as a deadly and bloated parasite which fed itself on genocide and slavery. And the American State is only the sum total of petty traders and corporate interests including military corporations. Such a soulless state has no moral authority to lecture to India or any other country about freedoms and human rights.
And one small point before I close. Our highest court has pronounced its orders on Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. It is not for Americans whose hands are stained with the blood of Afghan and Iraqi women and children to stand in judgment on Modi, Amit Shah and Hindu nationalists.
Pray with me, Mr. MacAskill: May God lead America and Americans from darkness to light
Radha Rajan is a Chennai-based political analyst. She is also author and animal activist.