The images emerging from New Delhi remind one of similar ones from Partition or in more recent time the pogroms which took place in Gujarat. Ironically, the violence that broke out in the city some...
The images emerging from New Delhi remind one of similar ones from Partition or in more recent time the pogroms which took place in Gujarat. Ironically, the violence that broke out in the city some three days ago coincides with the visit to the country by US President Donald Trump. Still more ironically, Trump and his wife Melania were attending a session at a peace centre, and engaged in meditation, as New Delhi burnt into further flames on Wednesday. The violence began on Monday after demonstrators favouring the bigoted Citizenship Act proposed by the Modi government attacked those opposed to it. The riots quickly took on a dangerously communal nature with shops and homes owned by Hindus marked with a saffron flag to ensure they were protected. A mosque meanwhile has been burnt down with rioters trying to put a saffron flag on its minaret. Muslims have been attacked in the streets. At least 20 are already dead. Those attacked also include journalists, with some asked to prove they were not Muslim. Many journalists have courageously continued efforts to film the riots which resemble the kind of actions once seen in Nazi Germany.
This violence is the continuation and manifestation of the anti-Muslim feelings that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been fanning over the decades to gain political advantage. That the BJP itself is an extremist party and belongs to the so-called Sangh Parivar (Sangh family) is no more a moot point. The anti-CAA protests and sit-ins have been overall peaceful and it is the Sangh-family activists and militants who have been repeatedly responding with violence against the peaceful protestors. The role of the police too has been highly questionable.
India claims to be the world’s largest democracy with a secular constitution that guarantees all fundamental rights and freedoms including the freedom of expression and faith. During the past 70 years or so, these rights and freedoms have come under attack many times but fortunately the constitution survived. Now the BJP is bent upon destroying the foundations of Indian democracy and secularism. The messages sent out from the capital to the rest of the country are clear. We already know from the events of 2002 in his native Gujarat that Modi is capable of heinous crime and mass murder. His government has allowed extremist Hindu forces to be unleashed and turn parts of Delhi into a killing field. This will not help bring any kind of calm to an India that is more troubled in communal terms than at any previous time since Partition. We can only wait and see how the world will react, if the Indian opposition will take a stance beyond issuing statements and if anyone will stand up to defend Muslims who are the main target for the horrors unleashed in India’s capital. This tendency will harm not only India but will also imperil peace in South Asia once again.