Letter: Preservation of a democratic and secular India

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The Independent Online
Sir: Those who demolished the mosque in Ayodhya, triggering nation-wide sectarian violence and rioting in India, are the same people who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Indian nation, almost 45 years ago. What they tried to do then and have tried to do again now is to destroy the very foundation of India's democratic secularism, which was laid down so carefully by the founding fathers (Gandhi- Nehru) of independent India.

India is multi-religious, multi- lingual and multi-cultural. Unlike many other countries in the Third World, India has survived a democratic form of government because of the respect for religious belief of all communities living in the country as enshrined in its constitution.

The forces that are trying to undermine the constitution and destroy the social fabric of India are its greatest enemy. When Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, Nehru - then Prime Minister - took firm action against these fanatical elements and thus saved the democracy in India.

Unless the present government acts firmly against extremist forces, the future of democracy will be in grave danger. We know from history that such people have no respect for democracy or human rights and once in power they immediately act to subvert democracy to achieve their unholy aims.

Yours faithfully,

SURUR HODA

Secretary-General

The Gandhi Foundation

London, E3

8 December

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