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Saturday, 20 October, 2001, 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK
Indian thinkers protest at US raids
Kashmir demonstration against US air strikes
Opposition to the war has come mainly from Muslims
By the BBC's Alistair Lawson in Delhi

A group of prominent authors, poets and intellectuals in the Indian capital Delhi have staged a sit-in protest against the war in Afghanistan.

They said that the bombing raids launched by the United States and Britain were barbaric, and only added to the misery of the Afghan people.

As time passes I think the anti-war sentiment will increase

Professor of Economics Prabhat Patnaik
They also strongly criticised the governments of India and Pakistan for what they said was a competition to see who could best dance to the tune of American imperialism.

All those involved in what was a small protest by Indian standards denounced what they said was American and British imperialism.

They argued it was in part responsible for the rise of terrorism around the world.

'Growing movement'

The organisers of the sit-in said they wanted to show to world that opposition to the war in Afghanistan is not just the preserve of hardline members of India's Islamic community.

Professor of Economics Prabhat Patnaik said that he expected more and more Indian people to speak out against the war the longer it continued.

"I think it's a growing movement, after all it's only a few days since the US started bombing Afghanistan," he said.

"Prior to that there was a great deal of sympathy for the US because of the terrorist attacks on 11 September, but as time passes I think the anti-war sentiment will increase."

Speaking out

Professor Patnaik said that those present at the protest were not condoning terrorism, but were speaking out against the military action in Afghanistan which would not stop terrorism and would only add to the suffering of the people.

He said that the West was wrong if it believed that terrorism would end with the capture or death of Osama bin Laden.

Professor Patnaik said that it would be better if Washington and London took part in a United Nations-led initiative against terrorism, based on specific intelligence gathering, rather than striking out in anger as the two countries are doing now.

See also:

14 Sep 01 | South Asia
India offers US military backing
09 Oct 01 | South Asia
India offers Afghans aid
08 Oct 01 | South Asia
Indians watch Afghan crisis keenly
17 Oct 01 | South Asia
Powell gets Indian backing
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