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Is India Going the Way of 1930s Germany?
Foreign Policy in Focus ^ | March 27, 2002 | Arun R. Swamy

Posted on 04/09/2002 1:27:00 PM PDT by TBP

The recent rounds of violence between religious groups in India do more than reveal the fragility of India's secular state. They highlight the inability of Indian democracy to combat what is essentially a fascist onslaught.

At first glance what happened in India appears to be another--if extreme--case of religious passion gone awry. A train carrying Hindu activists to the disputed religious site of Ayodhya was firebombed by a mob, killing 58 of the activists. Several days of revenge attacks by Hindus against Muslims followed in the state of Gujarat, killing over 700.

However, India's Hindu Nationalists have always resembled 1930s European fascists more than they do contemporary "fundamentalists." Members of the core organization of Hindu nationalism, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), founded in the 1920s, are given paramilitary instruction, not religious, and wear khaki uniforms reminiscent of Mussolini's brownshirts. While the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), founded in the 1960s, is mainly concerned with religion, it still does not prescribe how Hindus should worship or behave--an impossible task given the diversity of Hindu religious practice.

Instead, like all Hindu nationalists, it is bent on characterizing Muslims as alien and hostile while seeking to unify Hindus around a romantic nationalism, in which military prowess plays a central role. Hindu nationalists' emphasis on international prestige has won them the support of the westernized middle class, typically the target of Islamic fundamentalism. Their focus on demonizing Muslims rather than promoting Hinduism is illustrated even by the dispute over Ayodhya, where extremist Hindu groups destroyed a 16th century Muslim mosque in 1992, sparking nationwide sectarian riots in which more than 2,000 people died.

Hindu nationalists claim that a temple on the same site honoring the birthplace of the Hindu deity, Rama, was torn down to make way for the mosque. For Hindu extremist groups the claim that a temple was torn down to build a mosque--for which there is no concrete evidence--was at least as important as the claim that Rama was born at the site. The destruction of the mosque was commonly spoken of in terms of retaking territory that had been lost to invaders. Hindu nationalists have identified other mosques they wish to destroy, claiming that these too were built on temple sites. For none do they claim the sanctity associated with the birthplace of Rama. Indeed, the purpose of claiming a particular site as Rama's birthplace--for which there is no basis in theology or tradition--was to justify tearing down the existing mosque.

It is this fascist ideology, and the fact that a party espousing it is at the head of the national government, that makes the recent anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat so much more disturbing than earlier rounds of riots. As horrific as the recent violence was, more died in 1992. But the political establishment's response this time has been ambivalent and feeble. The paralysis in the political system is emboldening the Hindu extremist organizations responsible for the Gujarat "riots" to press their agenda more forcefully. There are times when India seems to resemble Germany in the 1920s and early 1930s.

The analogy to the rise of Hitler is not one that should be made lightly, but there are many parallels. The Gujarat attacks were not spontaneous expressions of mob rage but were highly organized and brutally efficient, probably identifying Muslim homes and businesses through the use of public records. The state government was almost certainly complicit in the wave of violence that affected the entire state and saw no effort by the police to control it. The central government was slow to dispatch the army, and has attempted to put the focus on the train attack, for which they blame Pakistani intelligence.

The state government initially sought to limit judicial inquiry to investigating the train attack, to use its emergency powers only against those accused of the train attack, and to offer higher levels of compensation to the (Hindu) victims of the train attack on the grounds that they were victims of terrorism. Even many liberal intellectuals and politicians, whose protests forced the state government to retract some of these measures, have tacitly accepted the idea that several days of targeted anti-Muslim violence can be equated with the attack on the train, and even resulted from it.

Worse, there has been no effort by those in power to hold those responsible for the Gujarat attacks accountable. The national government, run by the same party as the state government, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has chosen not to use its constitutional authority to take over the state's administration despite having attempted last year to do so on law and order grounds in another, opposition-ruled state. Although the government has banned militant Islamic groups, it has ignored calls by parties both in the opposition and in its own coalition to do this to Hindu extremist organizations. The involvement of these organizations in the Gujarat violence is widely attested to, and they were banned after they tore down the Ayodhya mosque in 1992.

Worse still, even after the Gujarat riots the government negotiated with the VHP over its plans to begin construction of a temple on the disputed site. The compromise involved an official in the Prime Minister's Office accepting possession of two pillars intended for inclusion in the temple structure. Even though this seriously compromised the Indian state's claims to religious neutrality, the government has congratulated itself for defusing a potentially explosive situation.

To be sure, the government is in a tight spot. BJP members of parliament have expressed outrage at the government's refusal to let temple construction proceed until the Supreme Court rules on the subject. However, statements and actions by Hindu extremist organizations since suggest that they have been emboldened by the concessions the government has made. Over the weekend of March 15 members of several right-wing Hindu organizations stormed and sacked the legislative assembly of the state of Orissa for unknown reasons, while the RSS warned Indian Muslims that their safety depended on the goodwill of the Hindu majority. The next week the VHP indicated that it had plans to carry the ashes of the train attack victims in processions throughout the country--an act calculated to incite mob fury. It later disavowed its plans when many of the BJP's coalition allies threatened to pull out of the coalition if the plans were carried through.

The opposition parties and some of the BJP's coalition allies have succeeded in checking the VHP to some degree. They have called for Hindu extremist organizations to be banned, and condemned the compromise with the VHP over the performance of the temple ceremony, as well as the attack on the Orissa assembly and the RSS' statement on Muslims. In addition to blocking the alleged plans to carry the ashes of Hindus killed in the train attack in a procession many have threatened to withdraw their support if the Ayodhya temple is built. The BJP leadership has promised to abide by the Supreme Court's ruling on the temple site. However, the VHP can undertake many provocative acts short of actually constructing the temple and has announced plans for more religious ceremonies centering on the temple issue around the country. There is a limit to how many battles the allies can fight and win from within the government.

The BJP's allies have been reluctant to withdraw from the government and indeed, voted with the government in passing a Prevention of Terrorism Bill that will significantly weaken protections for civil liberties including allowing confessions extorted from prisoners by police to be admitted as evidence. The Act, the provisions of which are currently in operation as an executive order, was defeated in the upper house of parliament where the opposition parties are in a majority, but it then passed in an unusual joint session of parliament. During the acrimonious debate two former prime ministers charged that the existing ordinance was used selectively against Muslims in Guajarat, while the current Leader of the Opposition, Sonia Gandhi, argued that the law would be used by the national government to intimidate its opponents and divide the country.

Short-term political calculations keep the government in power. Most of the BJP's allies are regional parties. The opposition Congress Party, which has won a string of recent elections is their local rival. Similar divisions between the Congress and other opposition parties have also hindered efforts to form an alternate coalition. Indeed, some opposition parties are gravitating toward the government out of tactical considerations even as some of its allies pull away from it. Meanwhile the two communist parties, outwardly the most opposed to the BJP, have announced that they would refuse to support a Congress government because of differences with that party's economic policy.

This combination of organized thugs affiliated with the ruling party who terrorize a minority community and intimidate a silent majority, with a divided opposition in which the center is getting squeezed from both sides, is only the most obvious parallel to Germany in the early 1930s. Over the past few years, the BJP has tried to reshape the secondary school curriculum by stealth in ways that fit with Hindu nationalist ideology and has presided over the slow militarization of the polity. By casting the Pakistan-supported insurgency in Kashmir as a crisis of national security, military expenditures have been increased while social welfare expenses have been cut. The command structure of the armed forces, which were kept divided for decades to ensure civilian control, has been unified in recent years. With the passage of the Prevention of Terrorism Bill, the government will have most of the tools it requires to gradually reduce the space for dissent.

There are many factors that could prevent this from happening. The Supreme Court has blocked both the VHP's plans for Ayodhya and the release of new textbooks following the social studies curricula. The National Human Rights Commission, which in India has some judicial powers, has rejected the Gujarat government's initial report on the riots as "perfunctory" and demanded a more thorough accounting. With the opposition parties controlling the presidency, upper house of parliament, most state governments, and therefore the electoral college for electing the next president this summer, it would be difficult for the BJP to significantly alter the constitutional balance or to declare a state of national emergency. Moreover, the government has a stake in preserving India's credentials as a secular state, in order to maintain U.S. pressure on neighboring Pakistan to crack down on militant Islamic groups and in order to develop economic ties with Islamic countries like Iran. Continued provocations by Hindu extremist organizations could yet force a rift between the BJP and its allies or even within the BJP, which is divided over the temple issue.

However, the difficulty India's mainstream parties have had in maintaining a united opposition to the BJP's agenda, and the change in the international attitude toward civil liberties following September 11, make it difficult to feel confident that Hindu fascism will be defeated. For this to happen, both centrist parties in the ruling coalition, and India's friends abroad will need to recognize that what happened in Gujarat was not just another instance of religious communities in conflict. Rather, as Indian opposition leaders have charged, it was part of a broader tendency toward eliminating civil liberties and scapegoating cultural minorities in an aggressive effort to impose a unified sense of nationhood on one of the world's most culturally diverse societies.

TOPICS: Editorial; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: clashofcivilizatio; india; minorities; naziism; religion; repression; southasia; southasialist; subcontinent; tyranny
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To: Qaz_W
The number comes form well-known human rights groups, and I didn't put a date on it since it is since independence, or the time the Indian government came to power. Still, in such a small country (relatively), that is a lot of people to be killed by the government, especially one that constatnly proclaims itself democratic.

And you don't even address the Sikhs, Muslims, and other minorities that have been murdered by the governmetn also.

41 posted on 04/10/2002 9:04:12 AM PDT by TBP
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Further to your post # 41 in responce to my post #40.

Which "well known" human rights group ?

Instead, perchance this reference is from the Council of Khalistan (COK), more specifically Dr. Gurmeet Singh Aulakh's congratulatory message to the National Socialist Council of Nagaland(Isaac-Muviah Faction) for the publication of their book "50 years of Resistance" in 1998 which provides a figure of 200,000 Naga's killed.

I consider the COK being far from knowlegebale on Naga issues given that Punjab and Nagaland are not geographically contiguous and for that matter are about as far apart as one can be in India (Punjab is on the western end of India and Nagaland on the eastern end).

Interestingly, the same COK in 1993 stated that 100,000 Nagas had been killed.

Thus according to the COK between 1993 and 1998, 100,000 additional Nagas were claimed to killed.

I once again reiterate that the census data I have provided in my post # 40 does not appear to support the figures quoted by you.

India is a democracy period. That however does not bestow the right to armed seperatists to indulge in terrorism without the fear of supression.If in the process some of these terrorists die, so be it. If you choose to call that murder, Indian democracy gives you that prerogative. In this we are no different from other democracies faced with these issues eg: USA (civil war ), UK (N.Ireland), Phillippines ( Mindanao ),Spain ( Basque region )and yes Sri Lanka too (Jaffna).

The below weblinks will direct you to the 200,000 and 100,000 numbers respectively :

Link 1

Link 2

42 posted on 04/11/2002 2:15:23 AM PDT by Qaz_W
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To: Qaz_W
You wrote: "India is a democracy period."

However, there are many who say otherwise.

Listen to Narinder Singh, a spokesman for the Golden Temple:

"The Indian government, all the time they boast that they're democratic, they're secular, but they have nothing to do with a democracy, they have nothing to do with a secularism. They try to crush Sikhs just to please the majority." Narinder Singh, a spokesman for the Golden Temple, Amritsar, Punjab, interviewed on National Public Radio, July 11, 1997.

Or this:

"When it comes to Kashmir and Punjab and Jammu, the Indian Government might as well not be a democracy. For people in those areas, India might as well be Nazi Germany." -- U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-Cal.), August 2, 1999.

Or this:

"The mere fact that [Sikhs] have the right to choose their oppressors does not mean they live in a democracy." Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) (How's htat for bipartisanship?)

General Narinder Singh (a different guy from theone quoted before), a retired Indina general, says "Punjab is a police state." Then there is Balram Jakhar, the former Speaker of the Indian Parliament: "If we have to kill a million Sikhs to keep India's territorial integrity, so be it." So far, they're only 25 percent of the way there.

Sounds really democratic to me.

43 posted on 04/11/2002 8:03:01 AM PDT by TBP
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Comment #44 Removed by Moderator

To: KEEDAM; keri; milestogo
You know, posters like you amuse me. Instead of ever dealing with the substance of teh issue, all you do is attack the messenger with name-calling that you would realize isn't even anywhere close to reality if you read any of the other threads on which I post. Hate to burst your little Hindu supremacist bubble like that, but the facts are the facts.
45 posted on 04/12/2002 7:53:21 AM PDT by TBP
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Comment #46 Removed by Moderator

However, there are many who say otherwise.

The question is how many? People who share your views are in a minority. Thats is a fact you will have to live with.

but the facts are the facts.

47 posted on 04/12/2002 8:05:00 AM PDT by milestogo
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To: KEEDAM; keri; milestogo
First, India is a democratic, free, constitutional republic which is massively diverse and multicultural.

And multicultural states don't survive, as Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union (India's old ally) and Austria-Hungary should have taught us by now.

India is not a constitutional republic. There are 17 freedom movements within India's borders, in part because Christians, Sikhs, Bodos, Assamese, Manipuris, and other minorities do not enjoy full Constitutional protection. (In words, yes. In actions, no.)

Look at Gujarat. The fact is that while the carnage was going on, the police stood aside and did nothing to stop it. The same thing happened in 1984 to the Sikhs in Delhi. Police officials kill minorities and all that ever happens to them is that they get transferred. Not one of your India sycophhants has been able to show one case where teh police were punished. The government of Punjab ordered a report on the murder of Akal Takht Jathedar Gurdev Singh Kaunke, and when it implicated the police, specifically SSP Swaran Singh Ghotna, they refused to release it.

In 1994, our own State Department (in a pro-India Administration) reported that the Indian government paid out over 41,000 cash bounties to police officers for killing Sikhs. One officer got a bounty for killing a three-year-old boy, whom he claimed was a terrorist. Last year, the government's troops were caught red-handed trying to set fire to some Sikh homes and a Gurdwara in Kashmir. The Hinu supremacist militants who burned missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons to death have not been punished. Neither have the people responsible for murdering priests, raping nuns, burning churches, and other acts of violence against Christians. Instead, the RSS, which is the parent organization of the ruling BJP, published a booklet on how to implicate Christians and other minorities in false criminal cases. In 1997, a Christian religious festival was broken up by police gunfire. In November 1994, the Indina newspaper Hitavada reported that the Indian government paid the late governor of Punjab, Surendra Nath, $1.5 billion to foment terrorist activity in Punjab and Kashmir. There are so many of these attacks and atrocities that one begins to lose track of them.

The head of teh RSS just recently said that all Indians must be Hindus. This reflects a statement by a cabinet member that everyone who lives in India must be Hinu or be subservient to Hinduism. And Prime Minister Vajpayee told an audience in New York in 2000, "I will always be a Swayamsewak."

Second, Pakistan is a hotbed of violent Islamic terrorists who hate America, Israel, and India, and Musharraf, the lone ranger, is trying to turn his entire country around, but that's not easy.

No, and Musharraf is doing an excellent job. There is much militant Islamism in Pakistan, true, and it's every bit as bad as the militant Hindutva supremacism that grips India. As you said, Musharraf is trying to turn it around. India did not help the situation by taking advantage of the situation to mass troops on the Kashmir border, forcing Musharraf to divert some of the troops he had been using to track down the Islamist terrorists.

Further, according to the January 2 Washington Times, India sponsors and supports cross-border terrorism in the Pakistani province of Sindh. Will you condemn this? I don't think so. Further, journalist Tavleen Singh, writing in India's leading newsmagazine, India Today, reported that India created the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which teh U.S. government has labelled a "terrorist organization." India has not been our friend. It was a Soviet ally. It votes against us at the UN more often than any country except Cuba. According to the May 18, 1999 issue of The Indian Express, Defense Minister George Fernandes met with the Ambassadors from Red China, Communist Cuba, Russia, (Milosevic's) "Yugolsavia" (i.e. Serbia), Libya, and Iraq to discuss setting up a security arrangement "to stop the U.S."

Third, Communist China actively encourages and financially supports any anti-American force or ideology it can lay its grubby hands on, because one of its main interests is the destruction of capitalism, i.e. America, India, Israel, and Europe.

True. And as the Indian Express article shows, India is doing nothing to stop them. In fact, it seems that whenever secular, democratic, constitutional India has to choose between supporting America or supporting Red China, it supports the Chinese position.

Try and digest those basic and elemental truisms, and then filter your monotonous gossip and lies to finally arrive at the truth.

I would make the same suggestion to you.

48 posted on 04/12/2002 8:35:53 AM PDT by TBP
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There is much militant Islamism in Pakistan, true, and it's every bit as bad as the militant Hindutva supremacism that grips India.

LOL. How nice of you, but totally dishonest, as usual. India has no terrorists' operating in Pakistan blowing up people, parliaments, and killing innocents. Now check again to see which way your head is screwed on, or even if it is.

Everything you post has been debunked before. Why did you flag me to this leftist "progressive" professor's little ramblings? SOURCE, TBP, is everything to most thinking people, but that's something you'll never be accused of. Thinking people would post utter bullshit from the FPIF with a "barf alert", or not post it at all. (I must admit it's somewhat intriguing though, to see you've dropped the crap from COK and picked up with the progressive socialists.)

49 posted on 04/12/2002 10:07:07 AM PDT by keri
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To: keri
India has no terrorists' operating in Pakistan blowing up people, parliaments, and killing innocents.

I will post this again, since you don't seem to have gotten it before.

On January 2, in the Washington Times (a far left newspaper, right, keri?) it was reported that India is sponsoring cross-border terrorism in Sindh. Sindh is a province of Pakistan. But I should believe that "India has no terrorists' operating in Pakistan" because you say so rather than believe the Washington Times. Obviously.

50 posted on 04/12/2002 12:16:06 PM PDT by TBP
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Comment #51 Removed by Moderator

I agree with the author that the core Hindu nationalists bear watching and would cause considerable trouble if they succeed in their campaign to tear down mosques and replace them with Hindu temples

Would it be OK if we tore down the mosques and replaced them with something more useful...say, pork rib BBQ stands...instead?

52 posted on 04/12/2002 8:36:12 PM PDT by neutrino
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It is amazing to me to see how many Christians on this site are licking their chops at the prospect of Muslims--who share our heritage in Abraham--being wiped out by Hindu fundamentalists.

Nothing could be more morally blind or politically irresponsible.

Those who throw their unqualified support behind Indian nationalism are no differemt from the fellow travelers and useful idiots of the 1930's and 40's who in their foolishness and despair embraced another satanic ideology: Communism.

53 posted on 06/03/2002 4:01:53 PM PDT by cicero's_son
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To: cicero's_son
Thank you for pinging me on this.

It is amazing to me to see how many Christians on this site are licking their chops at the prospect of Muslims--who share our heritage in Abraham--being wiped out by Hindu fundamentalists.

The Hindu newspaper reported that at lesat 5,000 (not the 900 officially reported) died in the violence in Gujarat. The newspapers also reported that the government planned this violence in advance, and at least one police officer was quoted as saying that he was ordered to stand aside and not to intervene. Ironically, this is remarkably similar to what happened in the November 1984 massacre of Sikhs in Delhi. I guess you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

An Indian cabinet minister was quoted last year as saying that everyone who lives in India must either be Hindu or be subservient to Hindus. Hindu militants affiliated with the RSS, the parent organization of the ruling BJP, have murdered priests, raped nuns, burned churches, destroyed Christian churcnes and prayer halls. They burned missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons to death while they slept in their jeep, all teh while surrounding the jeep and chanting "Victory to Hannuman," a Hindu god.

They have massacred Sikhs, Christians, Muslims, lower-caste people, and others in massive numbers.

And they do all this with impunty. The government of Punjab, for example, will not even release its own report on the murder of former Akal Takht Jathedar (the spiritual head of the Sikh religion) Gurdev Singh Kaunke -- a report it commissioned itself -- because it apprently implicates a high-ranking police official, SSP Swaran Singh Ghotna.

Yet India proclaims itself democratic and secular, so many Aamericans, including conservative Americans support it.

Nothing could be more morally blind or politically irresponsible.

True. Especially given that Pakistan is a longtime ally and India has a long record of supporting and consorting with our enemies. And according to Tony Blankley in the Washington Times, India supports cross-border terrorism against Paksitan in the province of Sindh.

Those who throw their unqualified support behind Indian nationalism are no differemt from the fellow travelers and useful idiots of the 1930's and 40's who in their foolishness and despair embraced another satanic ideology: Communism. Or the Bund, the American supporters of Hitler. In fact, the RSS, the parent organization of the ruling BJP, was founded in 1925 in admiration and support of the Fascists. Meanwhile, the chief opposition, the "secular" Congress Party, is in coalition with the Communist Party.

Meanwhile, India continues to seek hegemony in South Asia. Cabinet officials have recently called for an "Akand Bharat"-- a Greater India, stretching from Burma to Afghanistan, and absorbing Pakistan (among other countries.) It was India that first conducted nuclear tests, then crowed that Pakistan couldn't compete. It is India that continues to deny self-determination in the form of a free and fair vote to the people of Kashmir, who were promised a plebiscite in 1948, and to the other peoples seeking their freedom, such as the predominantly Christian Nagaland, the Sikh homeland of Punjab, Khalistan, and many others. In all there are 17 freedom movements within the borders of "democratic, secular" India.

Just as the multinational states of Austir-Hungary, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia could not hold together, neither can India.

54 posted on 06/04/2002 9:09:21 AM PDT by TBP
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Thank you for pinging me on this

No problem. I just happened to come across your thread a few days ago...I didn't realize until later how much time has passed since you first posted it.

I want to be clear: my criticism of India is not intended as a statement of "support" for Pakistan, which must accept its share of blame for the current situation. For some reason, many people seem to think that they must choose a side in these fights.

Animosity and resentment toward Muslims after September 11(understandable, but extremely misguided, imo) is causing American conservatives to lose their good judgment. Do they really believe that if we use any means necessary to smash the Muslims (who share our heritage in father Abraham and with whom we have much in common), the world we be rid of danger? Do they really think that radical Hinduism--to say nothing of Chinese Leninism--is any less deadly than militant Islam? Would a world without Muslims, dominated by Corporate Materialists, Marxist-Leninists, and Hindu fundamentalists--be somehow more accomodating to Christians? The suggestion is ludicrous.

Meanwhile, India continues to seek hegemony in South Asia.

These days, who doesn't? The real contest, imo, is between the US and China, with Russia likely playing the key swing role in Central. India is ambitious, to be sure, but I think they're pretty much out of the running for now.

Just as the multinational states of Austria-Hungary, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia could not hold together, neither can India.

Interesting comparison. I don't know enough about India to comment. I will say that once the scourge of atomization and nationalism is unleashed, it is almost impossible to contain or reverse. The stakes for India in Kashmir are big, indeed.

55 posted on 06/04/2002 3:21:16 PM PDT by cicero's_son
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Older but still relevant bump.

56 posted on 04/18/2006 9:36:40 PM PDT by TBP
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A CIA study a couple of years ago predicted that by 2015, India will break up into several countries.

57 posted on 04/01/2011 1:12:20 PM PDT by TBP (Obama lies, Granny dies.)
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To: Pearls Before Swine
I don't recall the Jews rioting and burning trains with German women and children in them before WW II.

You do realize that the incident you're talking about was set up by the Indian regime, don't you?

58 posted on 04/01/2011 1:13:47 PM PDT by TBP (Obama lies, Granny dies.)
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A response to a post I made 9 years ago? That’s rare!

59 posted on 04/01/2011 1:17:25 PM PDT by Pearls Before Swine
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Nah. I don’t think so. India’s been on a roll lately.

60 posted on 04/01/2011 1:32:14 PM PDT by MinorityRepublican
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