NRI groups ask Sonal Shah to clarify VHP ‘links’

November 11th, 2008 - 9:55 am ICT by IANS  

New York, Nov 11 (IANS) A group of non-resident organizations and individuals have launched a campaign against Sonal Shah, the only Indian-American in the transition team of the US president-elect Barack Obama, for her alleged links with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in India and have asked her to clarify her position.This is the same group of NRI organizations and individuals which had successfully campaigned against the issue of US visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. His visa was later revoked and has been reported to have been denied on the second application.

“There are disturbing news reports that (Sonal) Shah had close association with VHP that had openly supported the persecution and pogroms against the Christian and Muslim minorities of India,” said a statement issued by them including Coalition Against Genocide, Indian American Coalition for Pluralism and Non Resident Indians for a Secular and Harmonious India.

“The moderate leaders of the Indian American community have decided to ask Shah to clarify her position about VHP and its mother organization the RSS that was linked to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi who is revered by the President-elect Obama,” the statement said.

Media reports both in the US and India after Sonal Shah was named to the transition team of the president-elect said that she and her family has been associated with the activities of VHP in the US and its other affiliated organizations. She was national coordinator for VHP-America to raise funds for the 2001 Gujarat earthquake victims.

Ramesh Shah, father of Sonal Shah, has been a vice-president of the Overseas Friends of the BJP in the US and had actively campaigned for the BJP’s prime minister-in-waiting L K Advani during the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.

Born in Gujarat, Sonal Shah came to the US as a two-year-old with her mechanical engineer father Ramesh Shah, who first worked in New York then moved to Houston were he established the Gujarat Samaj.

“The leaders of these pro-democracy and pro-pluralism segments of the Indian Diaspora have vowed to increase their efforts to educate the American politicians and business leaders about the attempts by the Hindu ultra-nationalist Hindutva movement, that is modeled after the Italian Fascist Party of the 1920’s and who profess admiration for Hitler’s genocidal policies, to infiltrate the power centres of the US society by giving big donations and through volunteer work,” the statement said.

“We urge the Indian Diaspora leadership to be vigilant so as not to allow those Indian Americans who belong to extremist and ultranationalist outfits to infiltrate the power center of the American Society, said Saeed Patel, national Coordinator of NRI-SAHI.

“It is not the fault of the president-elect or his inner circle but our failure because we have not moved fast enough to educate them about VHP and its attempts to gain influence in the US,” Patel said.

Dr. Shaik Ubaid, the founding national Coordinator of the Coalition Against Genocide, hoped that with Sonal Shah in the inner circle of president-elect his administration would not facilitate issuing of US visa to Narendra Modi.

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