Friday January 27, 2023

Rising intolerance

By Editorial Board
December 09, 2022

It has been over 30 years since the Babri Masjid attack, in which an unruly mob of Hindutva zealots desecrated and demolished this 500-year-old mosque in Ayodhya, India. In the past three decades there have been many more incidents of desecration of holy places in India belonging to various religions, most of all to Islam. The Foreign Office of Pakistan has also expressed concern about such tragedies, saying Indian authorities need to put an end to such attacks. The 30th anniversary of the demolition of Babri Masjid was on Dec 6, but it did not witness any soul-searching on the part of the government of India that the BJP has been running since 2014. The riots that the Saffron brigade perpetrates every now and then have become a regular feature in India now. Extremist Hindu groups have sparked troubles against other religions resulting in killings of hundreds – if not thousands – of people across India during the past decades.

Fueling hatred against other religions appears to be a routine matter for the leaders of the Indian ruling party and its allies in the Sangh Parivar. Indian Hindu supremacist groups have gained unprecedented strength ever since the BJP assumed office eight years ago. Now such groups are demanding conversion of more places of worship including mosques into temples. One such mosque is Gyanvapi Masjid in Varanasi that some groups are targeting now to convert it into a Hindu temple. The Foreign Office of Pakistan is right in pointing out that such demands may lead to more tragedies like that of Babri Masjid. If the government of India does not prevent these repeated attacks on religious freedom, the country will be heading to an even more intolerant future. Assaults on other religions in India have tarnished the image of a country that claims to be the largest democracy in the world.

The ruling party does not seem to be bothered about the hysteria that some extremist Hindus have been successful in inciting. The growing extremism in India based around the Hindutva ideology has created a frenzy that needs immediate plugging. The recent release of the criminals responsible for the Gujarat massacre of Muslims is a case in point. Such a lax attitude promotes a culture of impunity in India that further encourages extremism in society. The government of India must ensure that the fundamental human rights of all minority groups are protected so that diverse religious groups may live in peace and harmony. It is disappointing that most Muslim countries around the world do not take much notice of such blatant violations of human rights in India, apart from an oft-repeated pronouncement by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Meanwhile, minorities in India continue to suffer under an increasingly fascist regime.