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Muslims in India


April 27, 2020

In the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Muslims in India are being stigmatized for spreading the virus and have been made targets of violence by BJP zealots.

This is happening with approval of the BJP government. Indian author and activist Arundhati Roy, reacting to the permeating situation in India told a media outlet that the Indian government was trying to instigate communal rifts by exploiting the coronavirus issue against the Muslim minority. She said India was not only suffering from Covid-19 but also from a crisis of hatred and the world must stop Modi from taking anti-Muslim steps.

Prime Minister Imran Khan was also right on the money when in a tweet he likened the policies of the Modi government towards Muslims to the ones pursued by the Nazis of Germany. The OIC’s human rights body has also condemned the unrelenting vicious Islamophobic campaign in India.

Although the Muslim minority in India has long suffered discriminatory treatment and from time to time also had to endure the wrath of Hindu zealots during anti-Muslim riots, but what has been happening since the BJP came into power knows no parallel in the history of the Subcontinent.

The RSS ideology of Hindutva means India for Hindus – to the exclusion of minorities. French political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot, specializing in South Asian affairs, points out that the ideology of the RSS along with other Hindu nationalist movements such as the Arya Samaj and the Hindu Mahasabha, thought of Muslims, Christians and the British as "foreign bodies" implanted in the Hindu nation, who were able to exploit the disunity and absence of valour among the Hindus in order to subdue them.

However, the majority of scholars believe that the RSS was actually formed to fight Indian Muslims. That assertion has proven right by the actions of the Modi government. The implementation of the National Register of Citizenship in Assam which rendered 1.9 Muslims stateless and the promulgation of the Citizenship Amendment Act speak volumes about the hatred against Muslims. They prove beyond an iota of doubt that India under Modi is engaged in systematic efforts to discriminate against, marginalize and disenfranchise minorities, particularly Muslims.

The reality is that India, despite its best efforts, has failed to sell its narrative to the global community. The international media has openly criticized the Modi government on this account. Even the UN rights chief moved the Indian SC – with a citizen – against the Citizenship Amendment Act. This development came in the wake of communal riots in Delhi in which more than 50 Muslims were killed.

The situation created by the BJP government in India has not only been restricted to condemnation by the international community but even within India there has been a great resentment over the path being pursued by it. Former Indian PM Manmohan Singh in an article published in The Hindu on March 6 put things in their right perspective. He said “The truth is that the current situation is very grim and morose. The India that we know and cherish is slipping away fast. Willfully stoked communal tensions, gross economic mismanagement and an external health shock are threatening to derail India’s progress and standing. It is time to confront the harsh reality of the grave risks we face as a nation and address them squarely and sufficiently.

“India faces imminent danger from social disharmony, I deeply worry that this potent combination of risks may not only rupture the soul of India but also diminish our global standing as an economic and democratic power in the world. Just in a matter of a few years, India has slid rapidly from being a global showcase of a model of economic development through liberal democratic methods to a strife-ridden majoritarian state in economic despair.”

Like Hitler, Modi did not stop at targeting Muslims within India. He extended the tentacles of its hatred against Muslims Indian Occupied Kashmir. The BJP in its election manifesto had pledged to undo articles 370 and 35-A of the Indian constitution. On August 5, Modi finally managed to fulfill his pledge by ending the special status of Kashmir. In his address to the nation on India’s Independence Day, he boasted that he had done within seventy days which could not be done in seventy years and that he had fulfilled the dream of Vallabhai Patel – of a United India.

The unilateral ending of special status of IOK, its bifurcation into two territories and their inclusion in the Indian Union and complete lockdown in the state since the 5th of August last year, which continues unabated till now, are ranting testimonies of the nefarious designs of the Modi government. With a view to change the demographic features of the occupied state, the Indian government has also promulgated a domicile law which allows Indian citizens to become permanent residents of Occupied J&K, and also eligible for buying property and seeking jobs.

The most worrying factor for the countries of the region, particularly Pakistan, is that the hate philosophy being pursued by the Modi government also has very serious implications for peace and security in the region. The Modi government right since its inception has adopted an aggressive posture towards Pakistan as demonstrated on February 26 last year. The world community, particularly the UN as a peace-making body, needs to take immediate notice of what India is doing to the Muslim minority and what it has done in IOK in blatant defiance of the UN resolutions, before the situation gets out of hand as repeatedly warned by Prime Minister Imran Khan at different international forums including his address to the General Assembly.

The writer is a freelance contributor. Email: [email protected]