Letter: India's need for religious tolerance

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The Independent Online
Sir: I am forced to reply to the intolerance and inaccuracies in the letter from H. N. Pandey (1 March). The case for calling the RSS in India a 'neo-fascist' organisation is not only linked to its reliance on the politicisation of religion, but more importantly to its use of violence and intimidation against non-Hindu communities. Referring, moreover, to the presence of Muslim fundamentalist political parties in other countries in no way weakens the justification for calling the RSS, Shiv Sena, etc, neo-fascist as well.

The second point on which Mr Pandey is manifestly incorrect is that of the numbers of Hindu citizens of, among other countries, Bangladesh. Almost 15 per cent of Bangladeshis are Hindus and this proportion has not declined in the more than 20 years that Bangladesh has been an independent nation. Communal nirvana does not describe Bangladesh. Hindu fundamentalists, however, too often resort to spurious accounts of mass intimidation of Hindus in Bangladesh to justify communalism in India.

Third, may I say that the project before all tolerant people in India is not that of forcing Muslims unhappy with religious intimidation to move to a foreign country, Pakistan or Bangladesh, as Mr Pandey dares to recommend, but to provide a society based on principles of secularism in which everyone can feel secure regarding their personal faith.

Yours sincerely,



1 March