Recent violence between Hindus and Muslims in India is a result of the buse of religion for political aims, an Indian parliament official told 30 people gathered at Lowell House yesterday.
Dr. Najma Heptulla, Deputy Chair of the Indian Parliament Upper House and a member of the majority Indian Congress party, analysed the history of developing religious and ethnic conflicts in India.
"The BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] wanted to come to power and the easiest way to come to power was through religion," Heptulla said.
Heptulla said BJP leaders last December incited a crowd of Hindus to demolish the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, India, for the party's political advancement. Many Hindus believe the Babri Mosque's location is the birthplace of the God Ram.
Hindus have repeatedly demanded that the Indian government build a Hindu temple on the site. Hundreds of Muslims, protesting the Babri destruction, have been killed in riots in the last month.
Who's to Blame
Heptulla said the government itself is not to blame, but instead police have been negligent in controlling the riots from the the onset.
"Governments don't kill," Heptulla said. "The police should have acted more vigilantly...the police were not capable of stopping those people and the army was brought in."
The state government is still deciding what action to take to prevent future religiously motivated violence, Heptulla said. But she said the Babri destruction will not set a precedent for attacks on other mosques or temples, since it was the result of a onetime "fundamentalist conflict."
Heptulla said many other problems remain unresolved in India.
"If [Indians] are poverty-stricken, it doesn't matter to them what happens 1500 miles away," Heptulla said. "The basic problem in India is education, health, jobs, and economic upliftment."
The solution, according to Heptulla, is for Indians to follow" unity in diversity," Heptulla said.
"We have so many diversities, diversity of language, religion, culture, and races, yet we have been Indians," she said.