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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 37, September 4, 2010

Letter to the BJP President

Wednesday 8 September 2010, by Shabnam Hashmi

The following letter was sent by the ANHAD Managing Trustee, Shabnam Hashmi, to Nitin Gadkari, the BJP President, on August 21, 2010.

Dear Mr Gadkari,

I am absolutely shocked to see a BJP advertisement issued by your party in The Indian Express on August 20, 2010 and Navbharat Times on August 21, 2010 wherein a photograph of an ANHAD demonstration at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, held on July 8, 2010, has been misused. In the said advertisement on top of the photograph appears the slogan of your party "Kashmir Bachao Divas" being organised by the BJP today at 3 pm at the Mavlankar Auditorium, Constitution Club, New Delhi.

ANHAD, which was formed in 2003 in response to the hate ideology of the Sangh Parivar displayed during the Gujarat carnage of 2002, is an anti-communal organisation. ANHAD has worked for the last eight years against communal activities in India and for upholding the values of the Indian Constitution.

To use our photograph in your advertisement is not only an insult to ANHAD but it also grossly defames our organisation because it seems to suggest that ANHAD has given the consent to the BJP to use the photograph of its demonstration. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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THE demonstration organised by ANHAD was specifically regarding the excessive acts of violence by the security forces in Kashmir. Our dharna was essentially against the methods of the Army and paramilitary forces against unarmed civilians and innocent persons. The dharna highlighted the fact that the policies of Kashmir and Delhi governments are resulting in the alienation of the people of the State who have been suffering violations of their civic rights for years. Rather than understanding the grievances of the people and addressing them through peaceful negotiations, the authorities have decided to increase deployment thus worsening the situation. The dharna was to urge the govern-ments to reverse their policies and to show remorse and to apologise for the deaths of innocent people. This is in total contrast to the BJP meeting which is unconcerned about the plight of the people of Kashmir and looks at the issue as a law and order problem and calls for even more severe repression by the use of the security forces.

To connect our photograph with your programme is defamatory and illegal. Our grievance with respect to the use of a photograph about our dharna in your advertisement goes beyond your Kashmir Bachao Divas as ANHAD and BJP are two diametrically opposite organi-sations as per our understanding of upholding the constitutional values in the country.

To carry a photograph of people associated with Anhad in association with your party itself, irrespective of the issue, is defamatory, unethical and illegal as it gives a clear impression to the public at large that our organisation and those associated with Anhad whose photographs are clearly visible in your advertisement are associated with the BJP and associate with your views.

Mr Gadkari, we are a small voluntary organi-sation but we see every word before it goes out in public, perhaps a small tip to learn from. It definitely gives us some comic relief about the total ideological bankruptcy of the BJP which uses the ANHAD photograph with slogans "10,000 Missing in Kashmir-who is responsible? Stop Killing Innocent People in Kashmir", while having a diametrically opposite understanding about the issue.

We call upon the BJP to issue an advertisement of equal size in all the newspapers in which this advertisement has appeared apologising for the use of that photograph and stating therein that ANHAD and the persons who are shown in the photograph have nothing to do with the BJP.

If we do not receive a satisfactory answer within one week we will be at liberty to take further action in accordance with law.

Yours sincerely,

Shabnam Hashmi

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