In a rare instance of cooperation from Pakistanis in FOSA, it is learned that FOSA has prepared a letter for the New York Times in which it justifies the killing of sixty Hindu passengers - a third of who were children - at Godhra in 2002. Aghast by the apathy towards loss of lives and condemnation of the dead, the Pakistani under terms of anonymity communicated with this website revealing the gross anti-Hindu mindset of its members.
FOSA’s displeasure sparked when the New York Times filed a report on the tragedy that befell the Samjhauta Express. In that the Times had quoted as follows "In 2002, Hindu-Muslim riots broke out after a train fire killed 60 Hindus returning from a religious pilgrimage. Muslims were blamed for the fire in the western state of Gujarat, and more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslim, were killed by Hindu mobs."
In a response that is yet to be published by the Times, FOSA alleges “Those killed in the 2002 incident were not "Hindus returning from a religious pilgrimage," but, as contemporary news reports tell us, most were returning from a political rally demanding construction of a temple at the site of a 400-year-old mosque destroyed by a Hindu mob in 1992.”
It must be remembered that 20 of the 58 passengers that were most abominably charred to death were children. It is FOSA’s opinion that these children were political rallyists. Moreover for a group that proclaims itself as a peace group and a voice for the people, the tone of the letter is clear that the death was a deserving climax for ordinary citizens attending a political rally.
We are happy to present the letter in full that FOSA has sent to the Times. Our informed Pakistani source also revealed the mechanism with which FOSA operates in wording its letters. It may come as a surprise to the Times’ editors (if they choose to publish this letter) that FOSA considers them profuse with “racist attitudes” – and therefore the artful wording in the letter. In a rare glimpse into the inner workings of FOSA, we also present the complete discussion from the moment it was evoked till the final wording was endorsed and sent off.
FOSA – Friends of South Asia - is a group of Pakistanis in San Francisco’s bay area that masquerades as Indians under the all-embracing umbrella of “South Asia”. They are known to have courted radical Indian communists and Jehadi terrorists. In March 2003 a FOSA volunteer, writing in Pakistan’s Daily Times accused the Indian army of massacring villagers in Nadimarg. Later that year, FOSA volunteers were seen promoting an ISI sponsored event in Washington DC called “Beyond the Blame Game: Grounds for Peace and Justice in Kashmir”. The event was reported in Indian media as an anti-India rhetoric. In summer of 2005 FOSA volunteers were seen carrying placards that read “Allah will destroy the terrorist state of India”.
As members of Friends of South Asia, we see the deadly fire-bombing of the Samjhauta Express [World, Feb. 19, AP report] as an act of sabotage against two peoples striving for peace. We are dismayed by the misleading allusions in your article to the train fire in Gujarat in 2002. Those killed in the 2002 incident were not "Hindus returning from a religious pilgrimage," but, as contemporary news reports tell us, most were returning from a political rally demanding construction of a temple at the site of a 400-year-old mosque destroyed by a Hindu mob in 1992. Additionally, it is irresponsible to repeat the claim that "Muslims were blamed for the fire in the western state of Gujarat" without also mentioning that numerous forensic studies, official and non-governmental, and the report of the official judicial commission of inquiry concluded that the fire in 2002 was an accident internal to the train, and not the deliberate act of anyone outside the train, Muslim or not.
To see a newspaper of record fanning the flames of sectarian hatred by reproducing such careless reporting is disappointing and frightening to all of us working towards a peaceful and hate-free South Asia .
Girish Agrawal, Sabahat Ashraf, Yasmeen Fatimah, Shalini Gera, Anu Mandavilli, Balaji Narasimhan, Aamir Qureshi, Roshni Rustomji, Ramkumar Sridharan
Note: Friends of South Asia is a San Francisco Bay area based group.
Friends of South Asia
P.O. Box 64389
Sunnyvale, CA 94088-4389
"In 2002, Hindu-Muslim riots broke out after a train fire killed 60 Hindus returning from a religious pilgrimage. Muslims were blamed for the fire in the western state of Gujarat, and more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslim, were killed by Hindu mobs."
It's such a pity that the Hindutva brigade has been able to convince the media to call the people returning from Ayodhya as pilgrims!!
Secondly, how the heck could the media include "muslims were blamed for the fire" and not point out that subsequent investigations proved the fire to be accidental.
Re: [FOSA-bayarea] Re: Letter to the NYT
I had noticed that it was from AP and that it wasn't mentioned out of NYT bias. Didn't read the last version of the letter, but at least the initial versions weren't criticizing NYT for a bias but what you mentioned - ignorace.
Anu Mandavilli <> wrote:
just an update that the letter to NYT was mailed out this afternoon- per the NYT's (automated) reply, we'll know next week if it'll be published.
While the FOSA letter takes a principled stand on the matter, I'm not sure Aamir's comparison of the Washington Post article and the NYT piece is appropriate- for one, the NYT story was obviously a straight feed from the AP wires. As you might have noted, the story was posted on the NYT's website at 1.27 A.M. E.S.T, (in the immediate aftermath of the blasts in India), and was probably (minimally) processed by some lowly intern working the graveyard shift. I think it'd be a mistake to see that one para as indicative of the NYT's overall editorial policy. (Also, wholesale re-use of the wires is extremely common, especially in the case of International news/news of disasters, and does not really point to any particular shoddiness on the part of the NYT).
To me, that particular paragraph was much more representative of the sanctioned ignorance on the part of AP reporters about the context of Gujarat 2002 (and also about India, and the developing world in general), than of anti-muslim bias on the part of the NYT (irrespective of how anti-, or pro-muslim one finds the NYT at other times). I would also see this as yet another example of the solipsism of U.S. media in general, which, as some might know, was historically encouraged in tandem with the U.S.'s isolationist foreign policy.
Anyhoo, I hope it is clear that I am not denying the existence of racist attitudes amongst reporters/editors, (whether at the NYT or elsewhere) or that these attitudes inform the kind of stories that are produced. My point is that while it is sometimes important to take a position as a matter of principle, our collective indignation must also be tempered somewhat with an acknowledgement of the realities of newsroom routines and judicious use of our powers of tarring and feathering.
my 2 cents,
aamir q <> wrote:
The letter is done!!
Going ahead, a couple of things -
When I pointed the NYT article out, it was meant to be a reminder that despite subsequent investigations, the media is stuck on the theory being circulated in 2002 (that muslims burnt the train etc). Seems that the reporting varies across different media outlets -- Yasmeen found that Washington Post mentioned that subsequent investigations doubted the claims that muslims burnt the train. Post also pointed out that in the past hindu extremist organizations have threatened to sabotage the train.
But, lets keep an eye on articles that are written in the same vein as the NYT article - given that some people have worked so hard on the letter, it would make sense that the FOSA letter gets posted to any newspaper we find tarroting the line "muslims burnt the train". Ofcourse, it will be exactly the same letter with the same signatures - we don't have to repeat the process :-)
Secondly, given that the hindu extremists have in the past threatened to sabotage the train (as mentioned in the Post article), how is it that nobody is even asking for their role to be investigated? Shouldn't the media be pressing for that?
Hi Roshni, others,
Here's a version that, I think, can be final. A few changes from what Roshni sent out, nothing major, but I have tightened the language some and deleted some repetition. I've added the names - in last-name alphabetical order, of all the people who have chimed in so far, and Roshni can add any other names she may have by now. I think we can leave it up to the NYT editors to drop or retain names based on the space their policy. I've also added FOSA contact information. The length of the letter is 195 words - not counting the salutation & signatures.