Sonal Shah asked to come clean on alleged right wing links

November 21st, 2008 - 1:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaNew York, Nov 21 (IANS) Coalition Against Genocide, a group of Indian American individuals and organisations fighting against religious fundamentalism, has in an open letter urged Sonal Shah, a member of president-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, to come clean on her alleged past affiliations with right wing Hindu outfits.The Coalition Against Genocide, in their letter that was released to the press Thursday, said her recent statement in which she repudiated espousing the cause of organisations like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), does not allay all of their concerns.

However, it welcomed her recent public statement where Shah said her “personal politics have nothing in common with the views espoused by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or any such organisation”.

Shah had issued this statement early this month after the coalition raised questions on her selection in Obama’s transition team by arguing that she had undeniable links with organisations like RSS and VHP.

But this is not enough, given the irrefutable public record of her family’s linkages to the VHP and other Sangh Parivar organisations, said the Coalition, which a few years ago had successfully launched a campaign against issuing a US visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

“Your family’s connections with the Sangh Parivar have been long, deep, well documented, and presumably continue to this day. So we must respectfully reject any parallels drawn between attempts during the campaign to find president-elect Obama guilty by association and legitimate questions about your past affiliations,” the letter said.

The Coalition urged Shah to come clean by publicly urging the Indian government and state governments of Orissa and Gujarat to speedily bring to justice and rehabilitate the thousands of alleged victims of the Sangh Parivar’s anti-minority violence and to take immediate and effective measures to prevent such violence in future.

“These steps will lend much credence to your statement that you do not subscribe to the views of Hindu nationalist groups,” the letter said, reminding Shah of the high standard of openness and personal accountability set by Obama during his campaign and now as president-elect.

“In that spirit, we hope that you too will take personal responsibility for your undeniable past links with the Sangh Parivar and reconcile your recent statement against the VHP and the RSS with your silence amidst the most egregious human rights violations by them in Gujarat and elsewhere,” the letter said.

“We further hope that you will unequivocally disown and repudiate your and your family’s past and current associations with the VHP and all other Sangh Parivar organisations,” said the Coalition.

The letter has been endorsed by over a dozen Indian American organisations and over two dozen individuals. The letter said they represent families who have grievously suffered from the alleged anti-Muslim and ant-Christian programmes of the VHP.

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