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Hindu groups dismiss terror allegation

Minister's comments prompt angry protests reporters, Ahmedabad and New Delhi

January 24, 2013

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India's main opposition party is calling for a nationwide protest today, after the home minister told media outlets that right-wing Hindu groups were promoting terrorism.

The government has “an investigation report that – be it the RSS or BJP – their training camps are promoting terrorism. We are keeping a strict vigil on all this,” home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said Sunday. The RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) is a right-wing Hindu nationalist group that has been accused of being an extremist and paramilitary organzation.  

The Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People’s Party) says the statement was an insult to all Hindus. It is demanding Shinde’s resignation, as well as an apology from the ruling Congress party leaders.

Meanwhile, some non-Hindus have called for action against terrorism training camps in light of Shinde’s comments.  

"If the federal government knows some organizations are running terror camps or are involved in terror activities, it should immediately take strict action,” Jesuit Father Cedric Prakash, a rights activist based in Gujarat, said Tuesday.

He said the link between some organizations and terrorism was “nothing new,” although he objected to the phrase “Hindu terrorism.”

People connected with hard-line Hindu organizations were arrested for involvement in several attacks, including the Samjhauta train bombing in February 2007, the Mecca Masjid blasts in Hyderabad in May 2007, and the Malegaon blasts in July 2008.

A BJP politician was convicted for his involvement in anti-Christian riots in Kandamahal in 2008, Father Prakash said.

Radical Hindu groups also targeted tribal Christians living in forest areas of Gujarat, particularly the Dangs district, in 1998 to 1999.

Father Xavier Manjooran, who offers legal help to tribal people in the central and south Gujarat regions, pointed out that only a few people are engaged in terror action and it is wrong to use the phrase "Hindu terrorism."

He wanted the government to take "concrete steps to dismantle the camps of terrorism instead of only making speeches."

Father Joseph Appavoo, director of Kheda Social Service Society in Gujarat, echoed Fr Manjooran’s words, saying, "Shinde has spoken truth but he did not say anything about what government proposes to do.”

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