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Hindu Radical on Obama’s Transition Team?

ICC Note: This press release calls on newly-appointed Sonal Shah to condemn violence perpetrated against Christians in Orissa, India by an organization she used to represent, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

11/20/08 United States/India (Indian Christian Forum) – Indian Christian Forum (ICF) an umbrella organization for Indian American Christians in US that promotes human rights and religious freedom in India expresses its grave concern to President-elect Obama on the appointment of Sonal Shah as a member of his transition team.

As U.S. residents and citizens, our community values freedom of conscience and freedom of association especially dealing with people’s own countries of origin or their ancestry. However, we strongly feel that this appointment may send a wrong signal to India and its citizens and to the Indian American community in particular as regards the values of freedom and justice we uphold in this great country. Although we feel that no one should be pre-judged on their association, Ms. Sonal Shah’s background creates tremendous uneasiness among freedom loving people in our community that overwhelmingly voted for President-elect Obama.

According to Mr. Thomas T. Oommen, President of ICF ‘While Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) also known as World Hindu Council is currently engaged in killing innocent people and ethnically cleansing Christians from Khandamal District in Orissa, India, it is quite ironic that one of their own past National Coordinators is assuming an important role in the new administration which promised a new emphasis on Human Rights’ referring to Ms. Shah’s appointment to the transition team. “To date, Ms. Shah and the organization she represented, VHPA (Vishwa Hindu Parishad America) have not once publicly condemned the VHP’s violent activities against minorities in India whether it was Gujarat pogrom in 2002 or anti-Christian violence in Orissa in December 2007 or the ongoing violence that started in August 2008?

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) justifies violence against Christians blaming them on conversions. Yet, the real reason behind their actions may be to maintain a caste-based society where people belonging to the lower castes are treated less than human (untouchability – hidden apartheid). Dalits and backward castes are continued to be denied their basic rights as guaranteed by the constitution of India and the upper castes aligned with VHP are engaged in a massive effort to undermine any progress for this downtrodden groups. ICF would like to point out that a segment of the Indian community in U.S. is closely aligned with VHP and their extremist philosophy and we urge the new Administration to mandate a thorough vetting process to weed out these elements who do not share the true American values of human rights, freedom of conscience and justice for all.

It is that of common knowledge that the parent organization of these extremist groups, RSS (Rashtriya Sevak Samaj) was responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi who is revered by President-elect Obama.

It should also be noted that the USCIRF (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom) has condemned the violence against Christians in India by Hindu extremists and called on the United States State Department to urge India to take decisive action against the VHP and its affiliates.

Therefore, ICF kindly request the new transition team to reevaluate its decision on this appointment and take appropriate and necessary action.

References:

Sonal Shah’s disparaging remarks about USA made at the gathering of youth organized by the militant organization:
http://www.hssus.org/content/view/35/2/

RSS family:
http://www.deccanherald.com/Content/Nov112008/scroll20081111100142.asp?section=updatenews

Sonal Shah link for Modi visa:
http://www.khabrein.info/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=18415&Itemid=88&mosmsg=Thanks+for+your+vote%21

Sonal’s Dad Ramesh Shah celebrating Modi victory in Houston:
http://www.theindianstar.com/index.php?udn=2008-01-04&usn=2&urn=1&upn=319
http://gaboworld.blogspot.com/2006/12/indicorps.html

IDRF report of funding by NRI sanghi supporters are produced by this group:
http://www.stopfundinghate.org/resources/Saff$/Jan-Feb2005.htm

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