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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Media Contact: Jan Wenzel, 401-874-2116

URI to spotlight communal violence in India
Two lectures, video show planned

KINGSTON, R.I. -- February 10, 2003 -- To educate the public about the nature of the ongoing violence in India, the University of Rhode Island will host two lectures and a video show. Both events will be held in Room 271 of the Chafee Social Science Center and are free and open to the public. The speakers are expected to talk about the ongoing extremist fundamentalists’ movement in India.

Communal violence in India has become too serious for the international community to ignore. In February 2002, in Gujarat alone, about 2,000 people have died, women have been sexually violated, more than 150,000 people rendered homeless and turned into refugees in their own homeland, and millions of dollars worth of property destroyed and burned.

Since then, the violence has been continuing on a smaller scales at different places throughout India. The perpetrators have been continuously threatening to replicate the Gujarat experiment in all the States of India, according to Mohammed Sharif, economics professor at URI. Sharif, president of the Southern Rhode Island Islamic Society, helped organize the lectures.

The first lecture Communal Violence in Gujarat, India—Crimes Against Humanity, will be held on Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. and delivered by Smita Narula, a senior researcher for the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch. Narula is the author of "We Have No Orders to Save You: State Participation and Complicity in the Communal Violence in Gujarat." The 75-page report documents state and police participation in anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat. She is also the author of "Broken People: Caste Violence Against India’s ‘Untouchables,’" a Human Rights Watch report on caste-based violence and discrimination that affects at least 160 million "untouchables" in India. Before Narula’s lecture, there will be a screening of a video, Hey Ram: Genocide in the Land of Gandhi.

The second lecture, entitled, Deadly Development—Funding Hate in the Name of Progress, on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. will be delivered by Abha Sur, a lecturer in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Sur is compiling a book of essays analyzing the confluence of nationalism, gender and caste in science in India. Sur was co-chair of the Women’s Caucus, History of Science Society from 1998 through 2000. She was also awarded the Peace and Justice Award, City of Cambridge in 1998.

The speakers will be available for interviews with the media, providing arrangements are made in advance. For more information call Sharif at 401-874-4119, e-mail him at or call the URI News Bureau at 401-874-2116.

The events are sponsored by URI’s Honors Program and Visiting Scholars Committee, and URI’s Women’s Center.

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