Muslim Genocide in India
Modi’s silence is an endorsement
For years, Modi and the fascist BJP-RSS government have been pushing anti-Muslim sentiments in India in different ways. For example, during the anti-CAA protest in December 2019, Modi said the protesters could be recognised by their clothes. His audience easily decoded his message. This was when protesting Muslims were being attacked in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka Delhi and elsewhere. The police either were the perpetrators or stood in support of those who were doing so. That was very well expressed in the slogans of “Delhi police lath chalao, hum tumhare saath hain” (Delhi Police, use your lathis, we are with you).
Right-wing Hindu nationalists have preached violence online for years, but the violence has recently spilled onto the streets. Muslim fruit sellers have been beaten and their earnings snatched away after being accused of luring Hindu women into marriage to convert them. Muslim activists have been threatened with prosecution under an antiterrorism law that has been scrutinized by courts.
In recent months, Hindu nationalists in Gurugram, a major technology center about 15 miles south of New Delhi, have confronted Muslims during Friday Prayer. Bands of right-wing Hindus have interrupted prayers with chants of “Jai Shri Ram!” meaning “Hail Lord Ram,” a major Hindu god, the chant has become a battle cry for Hindu nationalists.
A recent event in this context was a recent three-day conference in Haridwar in Uttarakhand state, during which Muslims were openly targeted by Hindu leaders who had assembled for the event named as “Dharma Sansad”. Even by the standards of the rising anti-Muslim fury in India, the conference produced the most blatant and alarming call for violence in recent years.
The crowded auditorium, where right-wing Hindu monks called for other Hindus to arm themselves and kill Muslims, included influential religious leaders with close ties to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing party, and even some members of the party.
In her address to the gathering, Pooja Shakun Pandey, a leader of Hindu Mahasabha, a group that espouses militant Hindu nationalism, while referring to the country’s Muslims, said, “If 100 of us are ready to kill two million of them, then we will win and make India a Hindu nation.”
Ms Pandey is the same BJP leader who calls India’s founding father “a traitor” and blames him for partition. She even participated in a ceremony worshiping Nathuram Vinayak Godse, who assassinated Gandhi in 1948.
Another speaker Sadhvi Annapurna, general secretary of the Hindu Mahasabha, called for the ethnic cleansing of Muslims living in the country. “Nothing is possible without weapons. If you want to eliminate their population, then kill them.”
On this occasion, Suresh Chavhanke, who heads a news channel, administered an oath to turn India into a Hindu-first country. “We make a resolution until our last breath: We will make India a Hindu nation, and keep it a Hindu-only nation,” he said. “We will fight and die if required, we will kill as well.”
Videos of the event have spread widely on social media in India where inciting violence is a crime, but Pandey and the other speakers remain free. The police, who readily jail rights activists and comedians on charges lacking evidence, have been slow to take action. The police woke up four days after the conference ended and only after the videos circulated widely. The state police announced that they had opened an investigation but that no arrests had been made. Officials said they have registered a case against organizers of the conference for promoting “enmity between different groups on grounds of religion,” which can mean a jail term of five years.
Even opposition political groups have been restrained in their response, an indication of the degree to which right-wing Hindu nationalism has gripped the country since Modi’s rise to power in 2014.
Prime Minister Modi has maintained his characteristic silence that, analysts say, can be interpreted by his most extreme supporters as a tacit signal of protection. Political observers say the government is allowing hate speech of this kind by remaining silent in the face of calls for violence, a silence underscored by the meekness of the political opposition.
However, Modi is not silent on anti-Muslim speeches; rather he is the one who promotes this culture of hatred and violence. Modi encodes the violence in the widely known explicitly anti-Muslim symbols and imagery of the Hindu reawakening. He talks about the historic Muslim ‘aggressor’ and then the ones ‘who should be identified by their clothes’. He mentions ‘Miyan Musharraf’ and ‘Ramzan’. His listeners respond as intended. In that sense, Modi has maintained a perfect balance of Vajpayee’s poetic dog whistles and Narsinghanand’s blatant call to arms without even naming the targets.
‘Babur or Aurangzeb are long gone but their children remain here. They pose the same danger as Babur or Aurangzeb’. That is what we have been hearing for the last four decades. The people of India understand the meaning of Babur’s sons and also that of Aurangzeb’s symbolism in the PM’s address. During the Babri Masjid demolition movement, we had heard the chants of “Babur Ki Auladon ko…”. That movement was to deal with the children of Babur. What has changed? As long as they, the sons of Babur, are not eliminated, the threat of Babur and Aurangzeb taking over India remains alive.
Only a few days after the Haridwar conference, Modi chose to speak in his regular dog whistle mode when he addressed the Lakhpat Gurdwara in Kutch on December 25 via a video link. In his speech, Modi said, that the dangers the Sikh Gurus had warned about are present in the same form today. Modi further said, “Guru Tegh Bahadur’s sacrifice and his heroic acts against Aurangzeb have taught us how the country should fight terrorism and religious extremism.”
Mindful of the fact that he was addressing a Sikh audience, Modi repeatedly referred to the atrocities of the Mughals and Muslim rulers and the struggle of the Sikh Gurus against them: “During their (Mughal) rule there were so many atrocities that the Sikh Gurus laid down their lives for the country…”
Modi talked about the Sikh Gurus as opponents of various Muslim rulers. He praised the Gurus as, according to him, they were giving their life fighting these rulers. They were doing this for the country. Guru Gobind Singh also fought Hindu kings, who saw the khalsa as a threat to the caste system. But Modi makes no mention of that.
“Guru Tegh Bahadur’s valour and his sacrifice against Aurangzeb teaches us how the country fights against terror and religious fanaticism,” he said, adding: “The dangers against which the gurus warned us remain the same even today, so we have to be cautious and ensure the security of the country.”
Modi’s message was that what the Sikh Gurus did then has to be done even today because that danger exists even today. But where is that danger coming from? With whom are Indians to fight?
Pakistan has rightly condemned the highly reprehensible genocide calls made at the conference. “The continued grave violations of human rights of minorities, especially Muslims and their places of worship, anti-Muslim legislation by the Union Government of India and several BJP-ruled states, and continued incidents of violence against Muslims on flimsy pretexts by Hindutva groups with complete impunity and often under state patronage highlight the worsening trend of Islamophobia and present a grim picture about the fate of Muslims in India,” said a statement by the Foreign Office that had summoned Indian Charge d’ Affaires to express Pakistan’s serious concerns over the calls for Muslim genocide.
It is high time the international community including the United Nations, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and relevant human rights organisations held India accountable for its gross and systematic human rights violations against minorities and took immediate measures to save them from impending genocide.
This piece can be concluded in what Neel Madhav and Apoorvanand have written in an article published by The Wire on 28 December 2021:
“The dangers posed by these calls for the massacre of Muslims cannot be fought without ousting the Bharatiya Janata Party from power and boycotting the RSS. You cannot clean the sludge by wiping it over and over again unless you close the source from which this poison is coming out. This has to be done through strong and difficult conversations with Hindu society. Poison is being spread daily in our society through shakhas, Saraswati Shishu Mandirs, Ekal Vidyalayas, the Bajrang Dal, VHP and BJP. This is also a religious issue, not just a political one. Hindus must decide whether they want the BJP to define their religion or whether they want to reclaim it from the dominant predefining feature being imposed on them – which is hatred and violence against Muslims and Christians.”
The writer is a member of staff.