THE plight of Indian minorities, especially, during BJP’s era has beaten all previous records. Since India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come into power BJP’s discriminatory policies towards Indian Muslims and other minorities are alarmingly increasing. The BJP policies are based on RSS ideology of Hindutva or Hindu nationalism with an idea to form Akhand Bharat, or an undivided Indian state which is true representative of Hindu culture and religion.
The BJP’s extremist actions and discriminatory policies can be traced back to their first tenure in government when events of 1998 nuclear explosion, violence against Christians, Gujarat carnage and strengthening of Indo-Israel ties took place. Subsequently, India witnessed political movements with a broad range of Hindutva centric ideologies, striving for a radical change, often creating problems for other religious minorities encompassing mostly the Muslims and the Christians. The snow balling threat to religious minorities by fanatic and aggressive Hindu fundamentalism is enough to raise serious doubts among the international community regarding the secular outlook and democratic claims of India.
If we look into history one finds it interesting that until the nineteenth century, the word “Hindu” had no specific religious meaning and simply referred to the people who lived east of the Indus River, whatsoever their beliefs are. The Indian Supreme Court itself has held that “no precise meaning can be ascribed to the terms ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hinduism.’ It was only when the census introduced by the British colonial authorities in 1871 included Hindu as a religious designation that many Indians began to think of themselves and their country as Hindu. Twentieth-century agitation against the British led to the rise not only of the secular and socialist Congress movement but also of the rival Hindu nationalist movement collectively known as the Sangh Parivar meaning “family of organizations”. The Parivar proclaims an ideology of “Hindutva,” aimed at ensuring the predominance of Hinduism in Indian society, politics, and culture, which it promotes through tactics that include violence and terror. Its agenda includes subjugating or driving out Muslims and Christians. The BJP policies on Hindutva and conversion coincide with increasingly violent attacks by Hindu militants on religious minorities.
The extremist organizations are promoting saffronisation of India by brain washing youth mindsets such as making compulsory education of Geeta, Maha Bharat and Hindu literature for Muslims in educational institutions. The government has put ban on cow slaughter and beef and many at times Muslims in India and IOK are killed in the name of religion and false allegations of eating beef. There is much sectarian hatred in India which is often portrayed in forms of violence and brutality. The reality is that India has an unwritten mandate of pushing the minorities against the wall through State policies as well as by hardliner Hindu politicians.
State sponsored anti minority initiatives like ‘Purkhon ki Ghar Wapsi’, a mass conversion jointly organized by Dharma Jagran Samanvay Vibhag, an offshoot of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bajrang Dal, ban on cow slaughter, lynching of Muslims on fabricated charges of eating beef, increasing rape incidents targeting all the minority groups including Christian elderly Nuns and instigation of Hindus against Muslim populace are just few examples of anti-minority venom amongst Hindutva centric Modi’s Government and its political allies.
In an electioneering rally in Fatehpur Sikri (UP), Modi again used communalism remarks to persuade Hindu voters. His remarks are likely to be contested by all the political parties as Indian Supreme Court has clearly directed not to use communalism for enticing voters. It is proven fact that in India Muslims face massacres, Christians are subjected to vandalism of Churches and Sikh community is being suppressed in the name of Khalistan. Minorities in India are denied of separate socio-religious status, whereas, scheduled castes and other communities face different intimidating tactics at the cruel and barbaric hands of upper class Hindus.
Religious minority groups in India are consistently subjected to inhuman and intolerant treatment at the hands of growing violent and extremist Hindu majority. Violence and denial of constitutional rights are the usual tools with which Indian minorities are preyed by extremist Hindu majority. The hate campaigns are becoming frequent and violent as evident from lynching of Muslims over Beef controversy, blackening the face of Muslim parliamentarians in IOK, desecration of Sikh religious book erupting into widespread unrest in Indian Punjab and violence against Christians and Dalits. Media off and on exposes the growing violence and intolerance in India but if a country like India adopts such practices, it can pose serious threat and challenge to the regional peace and security. One can easily sense, India’s rapid shift from its secularism to religious and social extremism. Hence, it is the dire need of the hour that international community must come forward and take concrete measures to control BJP extremist actions and discriminatory policies.
The UN along with other major powers should pressurize India to protect rights of minorities and of Indian Muslims. The RSS and other extremist elements must be checked and controlled to reduce communal riots and human rights violations. International community should end its slumber, it should be understood that any kind of support to India will be inadvertent support for Hindu extremism. The world cannot afford another religious extremism after the rise of ISIS/so-called Islamists. In short, Modi must review its hard lined and hawkish policies and work to create a balanced, peaceful and co-existent environment at home and abroad. A non-discriminatory and tolerant approach must be adopted towards all factions of Indian society.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.