Fahad Ali looks at a continuing bout of communal hatred of Blasphemous Hindutva
The Hindutva-driven communal hatred in India has taken quite a toll on innocent Muslims who are being victimised throughout the land. The mindless obsession of Modi’s BJP has created a perpetual wedge between the country’s largest minority and the recalcitrant Hindu majority. As an aftermath of blasphemous remarks about the prophet, the Indian administrative machinery’s wrath has been unleashed against the protesting Muslims. In India and neighbouring countries, Muslims took to the streets to condemn the blasphemous remarks and the result was that police fired at the protesting crowds killing two and arresting more than 130 in the eastern Indian city of Ranchi. Authorities cut internet connections in the city and imposed a curfew. Authorities also cut internet services for the weekend in several districts near the eastern megacity of Kolkata, after protesters blocked a railway line and mobbed a police station.
The condemnable remarks have embroiled India in a diplomatic storm with the governments of nearly 20 countries calling in Indian envoys for an explanation. The expectation that Modi would calm down once in power has fallen flat and he appears to have hardened his Hindutva leanings after many years as the prime minister. The maximum reaction he showed in this latest controversy was to suspend the BJP spokeswoman Nupur Sharma and expelled another leader, Naveen Kumar Jindal, for their controversial comments. The only concession given was that BJP leaders issued instructions to several senior members to be extremely cautious when talking about religion on public platforms and the government continues to tighten public security.
Pakistan denounced this shameful treatment of Indian Muslim citizens by the Indian government and expressed its solidarity with the Muslims of India in these testing times. Pakistani authorities declared the situation in India alarming adding that despite the global condemnation of the BJP officials’ sacrilegious remarks, the Indian government’s reaction had been muted, while on the other hand the BJP-RSS regime had persisted in its Islamophobic actions and had shamefully chosen to handle public protest with brutal and indiscriminate use of force. It further said that the Indian government’s apathy to the grievous situation and the vicious cycle of communal violence may lead to further marginalisation of the Indian Muslims along with urging the international community to take immediate cognisance of the grievously aggravating situation of Islamophobia in India. India must be held accountable for stifling the rights of the minorities, especially Muslims, and ensure that Muslims living in India are not victimised for practicing their faith and religious beliefs.
The atrocities of the BJP-led administrative machinery simply increase with civic authorities in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj (former Allahabad), started demolishing the house of Welfare Party of India activist Javed Mohammed claiming that it was an illegal construction. The police had arrested Javed Mohammad for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to carry out violent protests against the disparaging remarks. While there are no provisions under Indian law to demolish the home of anyone accused of a crime, this pattern has been regularly observed across Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states. State BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh supported the calls for demolition of the homes of persons accused of violence by stating that those whose homes are in the shadow of bulldozers do not throw stones at others. In addition, the Kanpur Development Authority demolished a four-storey high-rise building owned by a close aide of the main accused in the violence that broke out in the city last week.
In the meanwhile, the consistent persecution of the minority communities in India have prompted an American official to comment that some officials in India are ignoring or even supporting rising attacks on people and places of worship in the country. In a stinging rebuke US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said a report in this context showed religious freedom and the rights of religious minorities were under threat around the world and specifically mentioned that in India, home to a great diversity of faiths, one can clearly observe the rising attacks on people and places of worship. He mentioned that the US administration continuously engages with its Indian partners on these shared values of human rights and to that end, the administration is monitoring some recent concerning developments in India, including a rise in human rights abuses by some government, police and prison officials. Interestingly, Blinken made these remarks in a joint press briefing with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with both the Indian ministers not commenting on the human rights issue.
Blinken’s remarks came days after Ilhan Omar, a US congresswoman, questioned the reluctance of the US government to criticise Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on human rights. She stated that what does Modi need to do to India’s Muslim population before the Americans will stop considering him a partner in peace? It is widely known that Modi has fostered religious polarisation since coming to power in 2014 encouraging right-wing Hindu groups to have launched attacks on minorities claiming they are trying to prevent religious conversions. Several Indian states have passed or are considering anti-conversion laws that challenge the constitutionally protected right to freedom of belief. In 2019, the government passed a citizenship law that critics said undermined India’s secular constitution by excluding Muslim migrants from neighbouring countries.
More significantly, it was the third straight year that the US Commission on International Religious Freedom has asked that India be placed on a list of countries of particular concern though this recommendation has angered New Delhi. The panel voiced wide concern about treatment meted out to Muslims pointing out to numerous attacks on religious minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians. It also referred to the fact that Modi’s government promoted its ideological vision of a Hindu state through policies hostile to minorities. While stating that religious freedom conditions in India significantly worsened, the report pointed to a culture of impunity for nationwide campaigns of threats and violence by mobs and vigilante groups and arrests of journalists and human rights advocates.
The Indian government last year responded angrily to the call by the US Commission but it stuck to its observation that pointed to allegations of police complicity in violence against Muslims during deadly riots last year in New Delhi and continued concerns over a citizenship law championed by Modi that critics say defines Muslims as non-Indian. It also said the Indian government has been stifling dissent and voiced concern over the rise of restrictions on inter-faith marriages including in India’s largest state Uttar Pradesh. It added that India took a sharp downward turn in 2019, with religious minorities under increasing assault.
The charges against India include torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; prolonged detention without charges; causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction or clandestine detention of those persons and other flagrant denials of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons. The report criticised the continued enforcement of cow slaughter and anti-conversion laws, the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Babri Masjid and revocation of the special status of India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The US media is now also adding its voice to the clamour against anti-Muslim policy of the BJP regime and added that recent evidence suggests that New Delhi police concertedly moved against Muslims and actively helped Hindu mobs that targeted Muslims and their homes during the deadly riots that gripped India.TW