March 22, 2012
Re.: Hearing on Religious Minorities in India
March 21, 2012
The following is the testimony given by Dr. Angana Chatterji at the US Congressional Hearing organized by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on March 21, 2012.
Representative Pitts, I thank you and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for honoring me with an invitation to testify at the hearing.
I would also like to acknowledge the dedicated work undertaken by civil society groups in support of the rights of non-dominant religious and ethnic groups and minorities in India, and in response to organized riots and violence against minorities, as well as by state and non-state bodies.
The riots and organized violence against Christian minority communities in Orissa in December 2007 and August-October 2008 was not unexpected. In Orissa, since the mid-1990s, a formidable mobilization has been established by Hindutva groups, including in Kandhamal district. These groups have acted with impunity with adverse impact on society, economy, religion, and security. The Sangh Parivar ‘family’ of Hindutva, Hindu supremacist, organizations has a visible presence in twenty-five of thirty districts in Orissa, and has amassed between 35 and 40 major organizations (including paramilitary hate camps), and a massive base of a few million operating at every level of society.