Jagannath Rath Yatra
Vigil at Harvard Square, Boston (7.00 p.m) on July 11, 2002
Boston, 10 July 2002
Fearing further violence against Muslims in Gujarat during the Jagannath Rath Yatra, the Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia is holding a vigil on July 11 in Copley Square, Boston at 7:00PM.
Concerned that the Indian government's decision to allow the Jagannath Rath Yatra to pass through communally sensitive areas in Ahmedabad on July 12th might lead to a fresh outbreak of violence against Muslims, the vigil is being held in solidarity with the ravaged Muslim population of Gujarat, and to remind the government that it will be held fully accountable for the consequences of this decision. In addition to this vigil in Boston, Non-resident Indians from Boston, New York and surrounding areas are holding a day-long fast and vigil outside the Indian Consulate in New York from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 10th.
The pogroms against Muslims in Gujarat in February-March claimed about 2,000 lives and displaced over 100,000 men, women and children. Every independent investigation into the violence since that time -- by national and international human rights organizations, by women's groups, by committees of journalists, former civil servants and judges, even by the British High Commission -- has concluded that the BJP government in Gujarat colluded in the violence against the minority community. The vast majority of the extremists guilty of murder and rape remain unpunished, and will very likely attend the upcoming Rath Yatra in large numbers. The Gujarat government has shown little interest in organizing relief and rehabilitation for the Muslim victims of violence. Most recently, it has been reported that relief camps are being disbanded by the government and riot-victims are being forced to return to the homes that they fled to keep from being massacred.
Under these circumstances, many NRIs are very critical of the government's decision to allow right-wing Hindu groups to conduct a procession through the Muslim areas of Ahmedabad on July 12th, and thus to endanger the lives and property of Muslims in Gujarat once again. The message forcefully being conveyed to the Indian government is that the world is watching and that the government will be held completely responsible for any untoward incidents that may occur on July 12th.