Genocides are preceded by incitement and indoctrination through widely disseminated hate propaganda. Theologian and philosopher Abraham Heschel famously said that Auschwitz was built not with stones but words. Hitler’s propaganda machine led by Herman Goebbels proved the same.
During the 1994 Rwanda genocide, “the radio and the machete” were judged the primary tools of genocide. The Rwanda Genocide Tribunal found that “incitement through Rwandan media played a key role in the instigation of genocide”.
Since attaining power, the Narendra Modi juggernaut zealously treads on the road to genocide. Under Modi’s watch, hate speech and stigmatization of India’s religious and ethnic minorities has assumed grotesque proportions. NDTV tracks hate speech by senior leaders of government and political parties. It cites a shocking rise of 1130 percent since 2014, the year Modi assumed power. In Sri Lanka, ethnic tensions created between the Sinhalese and Tamils led to a devastating 26-year-long civil war.
Over the last two years alone, Hindutva extremists have organized 12 public events calling for genocide of Muslims. During a religious gathering at Haridwar recently, former BJP spokesperson Ashwini Upadhyay urged for “genocide against Muslims, attacks on Christians and arming Hindus”.
These calls remain unchecked whereas Sharjeel Imam, a young Muslim scholar, has been behind bars for over two years. Charged under 73 sections, his crime was a speech criticizing India’s Muslim specific Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Myanmar’s Rohingya too were first declared non-citizens and then massacred; over a million had to flee their homeland.
In such an instigated climate that brutalizes religious and ethnic minorities, a series of Muslim demonizing movies like Padmaavat, Tanhaji and Suryavanshi has been followed by the recent screening of ‘The Kashmir Files’ (TKF). With flops to his credit, TKF’s director Vivek Agnihotri came up with a sure shot winner, hate propaganda that is an imperative of Modi’s fractious policies. TKF is a false portrayal of the death of 89 Kashmiri pandits in Occupied Kashmir.
One TKF scene has 24 pandits being shot in the face. Another has a woman being stripped of her saffron robes and chopped to pieces in front of her young son. Yet another scene has a wife being forced to eat grains soaked in her husband’s blood who has been murdered by a Kashmiri militant. Reprehensibly false propaganda, this is what fuels and drives the Modi hate machine. Playing to full houses amid slogans calling for the extermination of Muslims, TKF has been declared tax-free in BJP-ruled states.
‘Parzania’, a film based on the Gujarat riots that saw the death of over 2000 Muslims under Modi’s direct watch, saw limited screening due to Bajrang Dal threats. The TKF team was met and congratulated by Modi and Amit Shah. Prominent Indian film critics have accused TKF of historical revisionism serving a communal agenda. Film critic Rahul Desai called it a “fantasy-revisionist rant lacking in clarity, craft and sense, where every Muslim is a Nazi and every Hindu a Jew. It is propaganda that strives only to tune in with the mood of the nation”. Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express called it “a work of propaganda aligned with BJP’s discourse”.
Professor for Peace and Conflict, Ashok Swain raised the killing of thousands of innocent Muslims and Sikhs “when the (Modi) regime is outraged over the killing of 89 Kashmir pandits in the last 30 years”. Congress has rejected TKF saying: “The Kashmiri pandits left the Valley under the direction of Governor Jagmohan, an RSS member. In 1989, the BJP was an ally of the VP Singh government in Occupied Kashmir. The BJP did nothing to resettle the pandits despite being in power for two terms at the center and one in Kashmir”. The statement further says: “In the 1948 communal riots, over 100,000 Kashmiri Muslims were killed in Jammu, but there was not a single retaliatory killing”.
In February 2021, Dr. Gregory Stanton, president of Genocide Watch, warned that the Indian government’s actions against the Muslims in Occupied Kashmir and India would lead to genocide. Various international bodies have predicted the same. Dr Stanton had forewarned the Rwandan genocide, which saw the massacre of 800,000 Tutsis, five years before it took place. During a US Congressional briefing on the ‘Call for Genocide of Indian Muslims’ organized by a coalition of 17 civil society groups, Dr Stanton compared the situation in Modi’s India to Rwanda and Myanmar.
India is a signatory to Article 3 of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The Modi sarkar’s incitement, ticking all the predictive boxes of genocide, is a blatant contravention of this Article and a criminal act in itself. Among others, former Supreme Court Justice Madan Lokur called on India’s Supreme Court to take note of this incitement and ensure that “those who gave calls for genocide are put behind bars”.
During the Nuremberg Trials, Julius Streicher was the first person to be prosecuted for such incitement. Charged with stoking anti-Semitism through his newspaper Der Sturmer, he was executed. In 2015, 94-year-old Oskar Groening, a book-keeper at Auschwitz, was tried in Luneburg, Germany. There was no evidence linking him to any killings. However, Franz Kompisch, the presiding judge remarked that “Groening was part of the machinery of death that helped Auschwitz function smoothly”. He was sentenced to four years in prison.
In India, we have the Modi-led cabal publicly and frequently calling for a Muslim genocide. Their calls go unchecked and are propagated through social media platforms as the world remains starkly unmoved. Cleansing India of all non-Hindus is the stated aim of the RSS and BJP. Juan Mendez, the first UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide, has categorically stated that these “genocide calls have the tactical support of the ruling BJP and its leaders”. It is imperative that the Indians themselves, along with the world, take redemptive steps to prevent a Modi sarkar aided and abetted genocide that ominously looms in India and Occupied Kashmir.
The writer is a freelance contributor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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