The US House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously approved by a thumping 425-0 vote, Resolution 911 introduced by Congressmen Joseph Crowley, New York Democrat, and Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican, condemning the deadly terrorist attacks in Mumbai on July 11 and expressing condolences for the families of the victims.
Both Crowley and Wilson are the immediate past co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans.
Crowley, speaking on the House floor on behalf of his amendment, recalled that 'On July 11,2006, over 200 innocent people were brutally murdered in India's financial capital by terrorists. By targeting Mumbai's commuter rail service, the perpetrators hoped to accomplish the maximum bloodshed through this cowardly attack on the innocent'.
"Today, as members of Congress," he said, "We send our condolences to the families of the victims, condemn the perpetrators behind this senseless act of carnage, and express our sympathy with the people of India."
Crowley noted that "India has remained a strong ally of the United States in the global fight against terrorist, and that will never be forgotten."
He asserted that 'with this resolution, we are pledging out support for the Indian government as it seeks to reassure its people and, capture and bring the perpetrators to justice in this difficult time.'
"The shared values of India and the United States have made both our nations targets to those who wish to see an end to democracy and modern society," he added.
Immediately after the vote, Crowley told rediff.com that the reason for pushing for an 'intention vote' on the resolution as opposed to a simple voice vote was 'because it always strengthens a resolution when it's viewed as an intentional vote and it's on the record as to how each member voted on the resolution, as opposed to a voice that's done on voice'.
"Members have to physically be on the floor and vote or press a button and this requires them asking each other what the resolution is all about and why they need to be voting for it and so on. So the intent is much more pronounced and important in that regard to show overwhelming support for it," he explained. "And, as you know, it passed by a ballot cast of 425-0."
One of the most powerful statements in support of the resolution came from Congressman Tom Lantos, the ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, who said, "Just over a week ago, barbarism boarded seven trains in Mumbai and turned them into a horror show. The toll was horrific: over 200 dead; hundreds of others maimed and traumatized. Across the region, shocked, grieving people had suddenly lost parents, spouses, children, brothers and sisters to this random, heinous act."
"The explosive devices were placed to cause maximum havoc: hidden in overhead luggage racks, they tore through the upper bodies of some victims, decapitating many. And they were set to detonate during Mumbai's rush hour to increase the carnage," he said.
Lantos said, he wished to express 'my personal solidarity with the victims of this sickening, heartless act and with their families, along with the people of India as a whole.With our resolution today, Congress condemns this assault on civilization in the strongest of terms'.
He said that 'as we in Congress move ahead with efforts to improve the geostrategic relationship with India, we now have fresh incentive to forge even closer ties. At a time such as this, we consider what our two great democracies have in common our values, our aspirations, our hopes, and our respect for human life'.
Lantos acknowledged that 'it is an irony of timing in the legislative process that the legislation we are considering today is referred to as House Resolution 911. But this coincidence serves to remind us of a common experience: In India, as in the United States, it is a tragic outcome of the civilized world's struggle with terrorism that the world's largest democracy and its oldest are both victims of terrorist attacks'.
"Both of our great countries are targeted by terrorists hell-bent on destroying the innocent and frightening our governments into submission and appeasement," he said.
Lantos said, "Let us reaffirm today that the terrorists will not succeed. The civilized and peace-loving nations of the world are joining forces to combat this evil ideology. Good will prevail; life will triumph over death. Together, India and the United States will hold aloft the bright beacon of democracy and freedom to lead the way."
He acknowledged, "This is far from the first such incident in India. Let it be the last. And let us send an unequivocal message that we stand with our brothers and sisters in India in the face of the barbarous onslaught in Mumbai."