2010 MIT India Workshop

In April of 2010, Omar Khalidi of IAMC organized a highly contentious workshop at MIT called Group Violence, Terrorism, and Impunity–Challenges to Secularism and Rule of Law in India.  The workshop is another illustration of how various Islamic/Communist/Christian organizations work to portray portraying India as a serious violator of human rights of minorities, especially Muslims, and the ‘ruling Hindus’ as perpetrators of atrocities against Muslims, Christians and Dalits.  India’s local, state and national governments, all democratically elected, are hence dragged by the hair and lambasted in such workshops.

The introduction to the conference states:

In recent decades, group violence, especially communal violence, has become a recurrent theme in the lives of Indians in many parts of the country. Starting with the Nellie, Assam massacre of Muslims in 1983, anti-Sikh massacres in 1984, communal violence has continued to challenge India’s secular credentials in the Ayodhya riots (1992), Bombay bomb blasts (1993), Gujarat pogrom (2002), and the Orissa riots (2008). There is a rising phenomenon of terrorism, as seen in the Mumbai terror attacks (2008), which lead to societal and State responses that centrally challenge secularism and rule of law. There is a dire need to study these forms of violence and the impunity enjoyed by its perpetrators.[1]

The above paragraph is itself an evidence of the highly biased agenda of the workshop.  While it is true that all these events did occur in India, only the ‘Hindu atrocities’ are highlighted.  In addition, the government crackdown on Jihadi terrorism in India is labeled as a challenge to secularism and rule of law.  There is no mention, again, of the involvement of Muslims, Islamic terrorists or Christian Missionaries, in these riots and clashes.  The ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits in the late 80s is completely ignored, along with Christian terrorism in Northeastern India.  While the 2002 Godhra riots are a favorite subject of the nexus of Communists/Christian Missionaries/Islamists, it seems to be oblivious to a similar incident in 2003 on Marad Beach of the Kozhikode district of the Indian state of Kerala.

On 2 May 2003, in the early evening, eight Hindus were hacked to death by a Muslim mob[7] on the beach after reeling in their catch for the day. The killers then escaped into the local Juma Masjid, the Marad enquiry commission’s (Justice Thomas P Joseph) report notes the submission of then Kozhikode Police Commissioner T K Vinod Kumar that hundreds of local Muslim women converged on the mosque to prevent the police from entering it to catch the attackers[8].[2]

The judicial inquiry also implicated the Muslim League for its clear role in the Marad Massacre and affirmed “a clear communal conspiracy, with ‘Muslim fundamentalist and terrorist’ organisations (sic) involved”.[3]  Curiously, this incident was never brought up by ‘human rights’ activists such as Setalvad, Hashmi and many others.  Could it be that this was a clear implication of a Muslim body versus a Hindu body and hence not a threat to secularism?

In any case, the conference featured various anti-India and anti-Hindu speakers, including Angana Chatterji.[4]  Chinnaiah Jangam, another speaker at the MIT workshop, discussed the atrocities on Dalits in India.  In this paper, Jangam blames all the Dalit problems on Hinduism and as well as the Indian state.  In fact, an abstract of his paper states:

Therefore this paper further complicates the role of Indian state and its neutral and secular role to understand the cultural and ideological roots that are entrenched within the Hindu ideological consciousness which thereby interpret the atrocities against Dalits as a part of the caste Hindu social process [Emphasis Added] rather than violation of fundamental human rights of its citizens.[5]

Mukul Sinha was another speaker at the workshop.  Sinha is a Gujarat based lawyer and is one of the founding members of the Jan Sangharsh Manch.[6]  Interestingly, in 2005, he was awarded the “Human Rights Lawyer of the Year” by Combat Law.[7]  Combat Law is the magazine run by Harsh Dobhal, who was discussed in Chapter IV.  Sinha’s communist leanings are clear as he advocates “the urgent need for mass struggles against American imperialism”[8] in India.  Sinha lashes out against the hard working Patel community of Gujarat and the Patel NRI communities of the US and UK and accuses the entire community of participating in and financing genocides on Muslims.  Without an inkling of proof, Sinha states:

[The] Patels began sponsoring a number of Hindu religious outfits and backing Hindutva organisations in the state, thus presenting themselves as ardent Hindus, and, therefore, as ‘high’ castes. One aspect of that newly constructed identity as super-Hindus was a deep hostility towards Muslims. In fact, the Patels, who comprise more than 30% of the Gujarati population, played a major role in the 2002 anti-Muslim genocide.’[9] [Emphasis Added]

Sinha, in a 2007 interview with Yoginder Sikand, another affiliate of FOIL[10], labels the US as an imperialist nation with a bigoted view of Muslims.  Sinha states that the then BJP government was a slave of American imperialism.  “They are working in tandem with imperialist forces, including the USA, whose perceptions about Muslims they share and whose economic agenda of so-called liberalisation (sic), a euphemism for market fundamentalism, too, they support, while at the same time paying lip-sympathy to swadeshi.”[11]  It is surprising that MIT, which itself is a seat of free market economy, allows such rabid anti-American ideologues any platform without allowing for an alternate opinion.

Sinha also shares the same penchant as Setalvad and others for cooking up facts and declares that “thousands of Muslims were killed in the genocide of 2002.”[12] As illustrated earlier, the number of Muslim deaths was certainly not in the thousands and even Hindus had died during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Meenakshi Ganguly’s topic at the MIT workshop focused on Terrorism and Counter terrorism in India: Illegal Detention, Torture and Killings of Terror Suspects.  While, in her abstract, she starts off discussing terrorism and violence from various groups including Maoists, Hindu extremists, and Muslims extremists, her focus quickly shifts to criminalization of Indian government and its treatment of Muslims.  She surmises that “The Indian government’s response [to terrorism] illustrates a disturbing trend: grave human rights violations are committed as security forces attempt to identify the perpetrators. Abuses occur at every stage of the investigation.”[13]


[1] “Group Violence, Terrorism, and Impunity–Challenges to Secularism and Rule of Law in India: a Workshop”, posted February 24, 2010,  http://indiaworkshopmit.com/, accessed July 26, 2011

[2] See the Wikipedia entry on “Marad Massacre”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marad_massacre, accessed July 26, 2011

[3] Rajeev PI, “Marad report slams Muslim League”, September 27, 2006, Indian Express, online edition,   http://www.indianexpress.com/news/marad-report-slams-muslim-league/13497/, accessed July 26, 2011

[5] Chinnaiah Jangam, abstract of “Caste and Collective Violence: A Study of Atrocities on Dalits in India”. http://indiaworkshopmit.com/speakers/chinnaiah-jangam/, accessed July 26, 2011

[7] Ibid.

[8] “Hindutva forces are bound to become more aggressive: Mukul Sinha”, November 30, 2007, http://twocircles.net/2007nov30/hindutva_forces_are_bound_become_more_aggressive_mukul_sinha.html,  accessed July 26, 2011

[9] Ibid.

[10] Yoginder Sikand and Biju Mathew, “Stop Funding Hate”, http://www.countercurrents.org/comm-mathew120805.htm, August 12, 2005

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.[8]

[13] Meenakshi Ganguly. Abstract of “Terrorism and Counter terrorism in India: Illegal Detention, Torture and Killings of Terror Suspects”, http://indiaworkshopmit.com/speakers/meenakshi-ganguly/, accessed July 26, 2011

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