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Taking Steps to Protect Secularism in India

Regarding the article "Disputed Indian Mosque Destroyed by Militants," Dec. 7: It is gratifying to note that the Monitor gave some prominence to Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao's categorical statement to the people of India that his government would go to any length to protect secularism. The article also reports the prime minister's description of the demolition of the Babri Masjid Mosque as "a matter of great shame and concern to all Indians."

As you are aware, the federal government has already dismissed the state government of Uttar Pradesh in India, where the incident took place, dissolved its Legislative Assembly, and imposed President's Rule. We hope that these steps will go a long way in protecting the concept of secularism, which is central to the Indian polity and is enshrined in the constitution of India.

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The destruction of the Mosque itself has caused great consternation in India, and almost all political leaders have roundly condemned it. G. Jagannathan, Washington, Embassy of India

The editorial "Taking a Stand in India," and the articles "Religious Clash Threatens India's Secular State" and "Crisis in India Prompts Strife Elsewhere in S. Asia," Dec. 9, are analytical and enlightening but confined to conventional wisdom. The idea that the Hindus are a majority in India is a myth. The four castes, which make up the Hindus, account for less than 15 percent of the total Indian population of 882 million. The more than 3,000 castes of the original indigenous population of Harappan civi lization, considered outcasts and untouchables, account for 65 percent. The Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, and others account for the remaining 20 percent. Many of the Hindu social and religious traditions are against the very foundations of today's Indian Constitution and would be resented by the majority of the people as a base for promoting an Indian national identity, contrary to what the editorial says. The reports from India indicate that the central union government at Delhi has been too disunit ed and frustrated to act on the temple-mosque issue. Arjun Singh, a member of the central cabinet, is reported to have suggested that the site around the mosque, now demolished, should be acquired and both a mosque and a temple should be constructed there by the state. This would be a symbolic gesture for the Hobson's choice of Hindus and Muslims living together in India and for sharpening the country's posture as a secular state. P. P. Lakshman, New York MIAs and POWS

In the article "Vets Remembered, Accounted For," Nov. 13, the author tries to paint a patriotic picture. I applaud him for his efforts to remind us of the sacrifice and valor displayed by American servicemen in battle. More than 20 years have passed since the end of the Vietnam War - a war that, even today, provokes conversation about American POWs and MIAs who still may be somewhere in Asia.

I am thankful for the efforts of the joint US-Russia commission searching for American POWs and MIAs. The report of Americans transferred from Korea and Vietnam and held in Russian prison camps against their own will is very eye-opening.

The old regime definitely committed an act of international immorality, and I believe if Dimitry Volkogonov, co-chairman of the joint US-Russia commission, along with the Senate Select Committee, looks closely into the KGB archives, new information could certainly pop up. Brian Hagood, Florence, Ala.

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