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To the Editor,
The article by Kathryn Lum, on a talk given by Dr. Syeda Hameed on the communal violence in the Indian state of Gujarat (article published September 26, 2002) clearly mentions the danger in the recent surge of Hindu fundamentalism in India. However, an important issue not mentioned in the article is that Hindu fundamentalism cannot be tackled without confronting its main catalyst: Islamic fundamentalism.
Hindu fundamentalism has grown rapidly in India in reaction to the persecution of Hindus in Kashmir and in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The recent violence in Gujarat was set off by a mob torching a train in the predominantly Muslim town of Godhra, killing 57 Hindus on board. The violence that followed shattered thousands of lives in India's most prosperous and peaceful state. The short period of tranquility that followed was shattered when Islamic fundamentalists stormed a Hindu temple complex, killing dozens, in an effort to reignite the violence. Fortunately, Gujarat remained calm following the attack.
The perpetrators of the violence have to be brought to justice, including all those within the government who found it convenient to let the violence unfold unchecked. However, this is just the first step towards establishing a more enduring peace. Hindu and Islamic fundamentalism must be dealt with at all levels: in the classroom, in the temples and mosques, in the media, and in people's hearts. Although there are no easy solutions, ending the vicious cycle of violence is the only way to reestablish peace and prosperity in the state that showed the world the path of non-violence and gave India its freedom.
(McGill BSc, 1993; PhD, 2001)