The Five Testifiers

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced plans to visit Silicon Valley later this month, a petition of sorts was floated by a bunch of US-based academics.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced plans to visit Silicon Valley later this month, a petition of sorts was floated by a bunch of US-based academics urging Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to boycott the Prime Minister’s upcoming visit. However, the expected commotion for the so-called petition failed to materialize as the agenda of the ones associated with it has long been unmasked: their carefully cultivated halo as the only voices authorized to speak for India has long since disappeared.

This careful cultivation in the past took several shapes and forms and was carried out for several decades in various theatres within India as well as globally. What is also notable is the fact that an overwhelming majority of these voices mostly hail from India working sometimes toward agendas of their own or controlled and financed by foreign nations who want to embroil India in a state of perpetual disturbance.

And the most significant of such agenda-driven acts concerns their testimony against the current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots, which were triggered when a Muslim mob burned alive fifty-nine  Hindu pilgrims inside a train coach on 27 February 2002.

What is interesting, as well as deplorable is the fact that some members, Indian citizens, of this tribe of petitioners flew down to the US and provided said testimony at the farcical hearing carried out by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on 10 June 2002 regarding the 2002 Gujarat violence.

It should be remembered that this hearing was carried out after one of the USCIRF’s members, Felice D. Gaer was denied permission to enter India because the USCIRF had no standing over a sensitive issue which was purely internal to India.

But that did not stop the proceedings which relied on non-state actors (Indians with vested interests) to determine the “guilt” of the then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi, a “guilt” that was pre-decided. And so, based on such selective testimonies from carefully selected testifiers, the “hearing” held Mr. Modi guilty of complicity in the riots even before the Indian Government began investigations into the Gujarat riots.

This hearing was highly influential in distorting Modi’s image globally and led to Modi’s eventual visa denial by the United States in 2005. The so-called hearing was also a catalyst for starting the decade-long Gujarat riot narrative which painted Narendra Modi as some sort of a deadly monster.

Although it is a thing of the past and the world has generally moved on ever since, it is important to recall history from time to time lest those who forget history are condemned to repeat it. Here is a list of The Testifiers, some of who flew to the US from India and others who were US residents of Indian origin, along with a brief summary of their respective testimonies. This list is derived from the full text of the aforementioned USCIRF testimony.

najidA. Najid Hussain- A research scientist in marine studies at the University of Delaware. Appeared as a witness. One of the victims of the Gujarat violence was his father-in-law, former Member of Parliament, Ahsan Jafri.

Testimony Highlights-

i. Mr. Hussain compared the Gujarat violence with the Holocaust, or Rwandan or Bosnian genocide.

ii. Without providing reliable sources or evidence, he claimed that the Gujarat state’s police forces helped the perpetrators of violence.

iii. Mr. Hussain stated that the carnage in Gujarat was pre-planned by the Sangh Parivar. In his words:

Godhra was just an excuse. Had it not been Godhra it could have been something else, anything else, actually. These extremists are also known to produce their own sparks when there are no other sparks.

This unproven claim of the Sangh Parivar being a diabolical outfit is part of the media’s false portrayal of Hindu Nationalist organizations as a cabal of neo-Fascists plotting violence in the nation.

iv. Without providing any evidence, Mr. Hussain labels overseas Hindu welfare organisations like Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh as terrorists. He accused these organisations of funding rioters in India.

During his testimony, Mr. Hussain dismisses a report published in TIME magazine which stated that Ehsan Jafri fired shots at agitators from his pistol instigating violence whereas most of his assertions are based on unproven allegations. When asked about the scarcity of witnesses regarding his assertions Mr. Hussain blamed the VHP, Bajrang Dal and RSS of intimidating them, thus painting the governments of Gujarat and India look like some despotic entities.

chenoyB. Kamal Mitra Chenoy- Former Professor of political theory and international relations at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi, and former central committee member of the Communist Party of India (CPI). Mr. Chenoy is now a prominent member of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

 Testimony Highlights-

i. Mr. Chenoy narrated the controversial unverified story that the 2002 Godhra train burning was retribution against the passengers molesting a young Muslim girl who worked as a tea vendor. In his words:

Now, about this whole area of retaliatory violence, the incidents in Godhra that is with the Sabarmati Express followed a series of incidents on that train where the Hindu volunteers mistreated and humiliated Muslim men and women traveling by that train towards Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, or coming back towards Ahmedabad. And these instances were reported in the press.  In early morning of the 27th February, the train was almost five hours late, and at the railway station an altercation took place over the non-payment by the Hindu volunteers for the tea and snacks they had had. And then there was an attempt to abduct a young teenaged Muslim girl, Sophia, who was waiting for another train. They were not able to take her into the train, but the rumor of a Muslim girl being abducted reached the slums next to the railway station, and the attack that started barely a kilometer away from the railway station when the train stopped with the pulling of the alarm chain was based on these rumors and attention at the railway station.

Mr. Chenoy claimed that the Government of India accused Pakistani intelligence as the force behind fuelling violent attacks in the country, and that that was equivalent of accusing the Muslims of being the enemy. It is strange that secularists like Mr. Chenoy jump to such brazen conclusions and then accuse Hindu nationalists of painting a false image of Muslims.

ii. And then, in a brilliant sleight of hand, Mr. Chenoy makes the claim that ‘The incident of Gujarat has been seen to show that India is not really a secular state, and Muslims and minorities are oppressed, which will further fuel extremism in Kashmir.’ The cleansing of the Kashmiri Pandit populace at the hands of Islamic extremists which took place more than a decade before the Gujarat carnage is not deemed as ‘ethnic cleansing’ by people of Mr. Chenoy’s ilk.

iii. In his answer to the question regarding the return of victimised Muslims to their homes, Mr. Chenoy replied:

Well, I think in the first place, they don’t trust the state government, and they would really want the state government, which has violated the Constitution, to be dismissed. And they would want some kind of what we have called “president’s rule,” that is, rule to govern from the federal government. And they would want a much greater role for the Army in providing security, because the police have been extremely partisan.

The emboldened portion of Mr. Chenoy’s statement is  not an accurate assessment of the Muslim community’s view of the Indian Government.

cedricC. Father Cedric Prakash- Cedric Prakash is a Jesuit Priest based in Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat. He had worked full time with the AICUF (All India Catholic University Federation) in Chennai and was associated with the US-based think tank, Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), which has a long history of promoting and influencing anti-India sentiments with several successive US Governments.

Cedric Prakash is currently the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace which he founded on 2 October, 2001. An important point here is the fact that Father Prakash was invited as a guest speaker.

Testimony Highlights

i. Father Prakash admitted in presence of the USCIRF panel that he and his associates have published pamphlets that asked Christians all over Gujarat to be prepared for attacks. He pointed out the Hindu-Christian clashes in Gujarat as the reason for spreading communal fear. A brief background and modus operandi of how such clashes, which are often instigated by the Evangelists, can be found here.

ii. The following statement made by Father Prakash is a clear case of an Indian citizen asking a foreign nation to interfere in India’s domestic affairs in any manner:

I think unless there is intervention, as our honorable attorney general has already mentioned, that is no internal affairs but since human rights and religious freedom should be the concern of the global community, unless there is very positive and powerful intervention from all over the world, what has taken place and what is taking place in Gujarat these last three months is not going to stop.

 Cedric Prakash, like Hussain and Chenoy, paints a picture which displays Gujarat as a lawless land where hapless Muslim residents are under attack by predatory Hindu fanatics. However, Father Prakash goes one step further by asking foreign nations to intervene in India disregarding the fact that debates regarding the carnage in Gujarat was being carried out in socio-political circles like it should be in a sovereign democratic nation.

gangulyD. Sumit Ganguly- Professor of Asian Studies at the Texas University.

Testimony Highlights

i. Mr. Ganguly implies that India is an illiberal democracy where the rights of the majority are prioritised and the rights of minorities are ignored.

ii. He asked for strong public condemnation of India by the United States and even appeals to the US to pressurise India in ensuring justice.

iii. Mr. Ganguly suggests that USCRIF assist NGOs based in India which he believes are working for social welfare.

 

 

teesta

E. Teesta Setalvad-Indian civil rights activist and journalist. She is the secretary of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP). Ms. Setalvad has made a name for herself being the sole propagandist against Narendra Modi for a decade over the Gujarat riots. She subsequently became infamous as the poster girl of what came to be known as the Gujarat Riots Cottage Industry, and now faces several court cases for perjury, financial misappropriation and tutoring witnesses for giving false testimony. Like Cedric Prakash she was also invited as a guest speaker.

Testimony Highlights

This one long statement of hers shows her in her true light.

…I would like to state very, very clearly that I believe that–and we believe, and we’ve said so–that the Ahsan Jafri killing, particularly, was that of personal vendetta by none less than the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Mr. Narendra Modi….I’d like here to point out to the Commission that there are no less than 2,000 dead. It’s not 1,000 dead. There are no less than 2,000 persons dead……

We can compare Teesta’s and the other panelists’ “testimony” with some of the notable findings of the Special Investigation Team appointed by the Supreme Court of India:

i. Immediately after the Godhra carnage, on the evening of 27 February 2002, the then Gujarat Chief Minister took steps to arrange the Rapid Action Force (RAF), State Reserve Police, local police at sensitive points. Due to the army at Ahmedabad Cantonment being called at the border the Chief Minister requested the then Defence Minister next day to immediately deploy army battalions to tackle the situation, which were deployed immediately.

ii. The statistical findings show that in the first six days of the riots, 61 Hindus and 40 Muslims were killed in police firing with 60% casualties being Hindu.

iii.Regarding the BJP accusing ISI of instigating violence in Gujarat, one of the principal accused in the Godhra carnage is now a fugitive in Pakistan, with an Interpol Red Corner Notice.

iv. According to an official report presented in the Rajya Sabha a total of 254 Hindus and 790 Muslims were killed in the Gujarat riots.

IndiaFacts Staff articles, reports and guest pieces
  • india

    Some anti national bastard never want to change. Bengali and Kerala leftist and some radical muslims bastrads are in the top.

  • Audit Uscirf

    Read 57 articles about uscirf bias here: uscirf.blogspot.com

    USCIRF bull is trampling truth, and whitewashing terrorism?
    Read & Decide:
    1)Event: Attack on Buddhist Temple at Bodhgaya India
    USCIRF portrayal: “NIA arrested Hindu priest.Protest ensued &..Priest released.”
    Fact: Ind. Mujahideens arrested.Anti-attack vigil ensued.Priest is anti-corruption crusader & Bodhi-Tree Saviour.

    2) Event: Attack on Hindu Monastery,Orissa,India: Massacre of 5 ppl incl 82yrold Monk, Woman & Children
    USCIRF portrayal: USCIRF Villifies 82yrold Monk. Defend accused & doubt court judgement without providing any evidence.
    Fact:Court found 7 Christians,lnked with maoist terror group, guilty of Jalespesta Hindu Massacre.

    3) USCIRF silent on religious freedom violation in Christian countries. For example, Christian crusade & Hindu persecution in Fiji which resulted in migration of 25% of fijian hindu population.

    4) Event: AntiTerror Op. BatlaHouse, Delhi: Death of 2 terrorist &1 Police Officer.
    USCIRF portrayal: “2 unarmed youth shot by police.”
    Fact: Court awarded life term to arrested Indian Mujahideen terrorist.

    5) USCIRF commissioners do not promote religious freedom in USA. On the contrary, their activities create a hostile environment in USA. Examples:-
    a) Current USCIRF chairman is actively promoting Indiana’s anti-gay law.
    b) In 2005, USCIRF Commissioner Richard Land, of Southern Bapstist Convention, authored “Imagine! A God Blessed America: What It Would Look Like and How It Could Happen”. In the book, He wrote that Hindu culture/tradition is “Superstitious” and “Cruel”. In 1999, An Anti-Hindu booklet was produced by the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

  • Sibby

    Media has been unfairly biased against Modi. You dont see them running around UP CM Akhilesh Yadav asking about Mujuffarnagar riot or any other CM. It is clearly media and political vendetta against Modi. Nobody thought, not even USA, that the man who they bashed, criticized and demonized for so many years would one day become Indian PM. Modi became PM not only because Hindus voted for him, but also many Muslim (though small percentage wise) voted for him.
    Before he became PM, media and opposition was saying that there will will riots in every city. Now when there are no riots taking place, now they link any incident whether accident, robbery etc to minorities being threaten by Modi.

    After skull cap incident, media ran it 24×7 with discussion panel, slamming Mr Modi depicting it as if he is anti-muslim. But when Modi went to Mosque in UAE, there was hardly any coverage. It was not seen as pro muslim. Have they ever asked Manmohan Singh to wear skull cap, would he have wore it? Why dont they ask Sonia Gandhi to wear Burqa? If she denies to wear it, why it is not seen as anit muslim. Will any of the leader of MIM will wear saffron cap? Will it not be anti hindu, if they deny it. What had media done to bring justice to other riot victims?

    I have one advice for Media: if Modi is guilty, then hang him, if it is not don’t hound him. If asking for Sorry was enough, then all the criminals will be say sorry after any crime and walk free.

  • Dr. MS

    Ms Teesta Setalvad is a wonderful example of how stupid Hindus insult Hindu women so much, particularly those who are not full time wives and mothers (feeding men’s bellies and men’s egos perpetually), that many educated smart strong women end up remaining single (and completely uninvolved in many community affairs that needs their smartness, insights and/or strength)….or end up marrying non-Hindus and officially converting, or moving to their male partners’ “activism”.

    If Hindu communities provide no respectable space for single women, widows and divorcees with opportunities for late marriage, remarriage, partnership without marriage, celibacy without monkhood or nunnishness and real status and power (when necessary)…expect these women to withhold their talent and abilities from the Hindu community, or to work for the other side, including the opposite side.

    It appears that 1500 years of invasion, occupation, colonialism and authoritarianism did not just decimate the land or culture of Hindus….but it killed off the smart or intelligent Hindu man, the visionary Hindu man and courageous Hindu man.

    What we now have are copious numbers of Hindu male idiots trying to recover what has been lost, and weakened for centuries, through poor understanding of HIndu philosophy that should respect all women, integrate women in all walks of life and look beyond marriage, motherhood and subservience to male authority for women. Hindu Indians, it now appears, have to depend on Hindus outside India for help, money, pride and some organizational skills. For example: without the Gujarati Hindu diaspora Modi would not have won.

    What does this say about Indian Hindus who are supposedly “the majority” in India?

    It is easy to attack me and insult me, just for disagreeing with some people or being assertive – even on the net…but it is much more difficult to draw me into your tribe. Why? Because I belong to the intelligent and insightful tribe…not one that stupidly wants to bring 15th century patriarchal Hinduism in its effort to revive Hinduism. Where are the thinking and thoughtful Hindus?

    Unfortunately outside India.

    Read the next comment.

  • Krispy K

    A roll-call of scumbags right there.

  • Dr. MS

    These are bizarre times for Indian Christians…as they struggle for “a clear identity, power and privilege both within the dominant Anglo European and Anglo American churches, theologies and priorities”, as well as “outside their faith, where communities and countries, once colonized, enslaved and culturally decimated, are standing up for their rights, their space, their justice and their priorities”.

    Read this article on Pope’s visit to the United States…where the face of Catholicism is changing. It is becoming more Hispanic, dominated by mostly immigrants (including illegals) from Latin and South America, with an Americanized culture that is more liberal and pro-women’s equality.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/22/us/pope-francis-to-find-a-church-in-upheaval

    A brief excerpt:

    A majority of Catholics in the Northeast, 53 percent, said the church was out of touch with the needs of Catholics today, compared with 38 percent of Catholics in the West and 29 percent of Catholics in the South.

    Francis, perhaps most importantly, has yet to create a shift in the dynamics of attendance and participation. When asked if their attendance at church had changed over the last two years, 13 percent said they were going to Mass more often, but 12 percent said they were going less, and 74 percent said nothing had changed.

    Shortage of Priests

    The faithful formed two long lines inside Sacred Heart Church on a Friday afternoon last month, some waiting as long as two and a half hours to step into the confessional where they whispered their sins through the blue curtain to the Rev. Jesús Reynaga — the lone pastor in this humble parish.

    It is like this every Friday at Sacred Heart.

    Father Reynaga’s Hispanic parishioners, many of them immigrants without legal status, have much faith and many problems, he said, and they all come to him.

    “I tell them, ‘Please, tell me only your sins. Don’t tell me your stories,’ ” said Father Reynaga, 47, who emigrated from Mexico 10 years ago and is a permanent resident applying for citizenship. “People sometimes want to have counseling in confession. I tell them, ‘If you want counseling, please make an appointment with me.’ ”

    His appointment calendar is often booked for two or three weeks in advance, and sometimes he has to cancel to make emergency visits to the hospital or to anoint the sick. He has been masterful, his parishioners say, at delegating leadership, forming new parish groups and energizing laypeople. The parish has 40 religious school classes, and seven choirs, which take turns. But some things in the Catholic Church only the priest can do himself.

    The Diocese of Fresno, home to this parish, is the fastest growing in the West, swelling with immigrants from Mexico, Central and South America, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam. Its size has more than doubled in 10 years, to 1.2 million members now from 581,000 in 2005, and Catholic leaders here say this is a vast undercount because many undocumented immigrants, out of fear, never register as parish members.

    Resources are scarce. Priests are aging and stretched thin. Even among the children and grandchildren of those faithful Hispanic immigrants, the church is struggling to recruit clergy. One-fifth of American parishes have no resident priest at all, and many have a priest who is carrying on into his 70s or 80s.

    Comment: Is the declining membership and funds for the Catholic church, and the increase in church scandals and doubts (about the Catholic theology itself) from younger parishners , prodding some in Europe and the US to find new regions to sell their product…like the old tobacco companies that went to poor countries, developing regions and Black and Brown nations to sell cigarettes?