Hindu students

June 9, 2000

Parita Mukta is under the impression that the literature of the National Hindu Students Forum (not federation as she states) is anti-secular and gender biased, based on reference to our "Beware" campaign ("Why we are worried about the growth of militant Hinduism", Soapbox, THES, May 19).

Our campaign was, ironically, against a rightwing, Islamic fundamentalist group called Hiz But Tahir, an organisation whose leaders have been identified by the government as a threat to national security.

She also fails to make the point that the campaign was a coordinated effort with such organisations as the National Union of Students, the Union of Jewish Students and British Organisation of Sikh Students.

Our literature was far from anti-secular, but based on protecting the principles of democracy from organisations such as Hiz But Tahir, which seek only to destroy it.

Her views of us as an anti-democratic and militant organisation are unfounded. The forum has always respected and endorsed democratic principles and has actively promoted them.

Recently we were present at the House of Lords, where we endorsed the "act of commitment", which aims to promote inter-faith relations and awareness, and is now a core objective of our work over the coming academic year.

The National Hindu Students Forum was founded in 1991 and is active in more than 51 educational institutions, from the London School of Economics to King Edward's Grammar School in Handsworth, Birmingham. The work has been praised by the Hindu and wider community as providing a positive and dynamic platform for the younger generation.

Tushar Shah. Vice-chair. National Hindu Students Forum

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