In Modi’s India, minorities face existential threat amidst rise of saffron terror

ISLAMABAD, Oct 25 (APP): With the rise of saffron terror in India – motivated by Hindutva and backed by government’s systematic discriminatory policies – around 260 million population of minorities in the so-called world’s biggest democracy is facing the existential threat.

Notorious as “saffron goons”, the baton or sword carrying youths attacking and burning worship places of Muslims, Christians, Dalits or Sikhs and killing the community members mark the India of 2021 being ruled by an RSS Pracharak-turned politician Narendra Modi.

According to the available data, Hindus constitute 79.8% of the population, Muslims 14.2%, Christians 2.3%, and Sikhs 1.7%. Groups that together constitute fewer than two percent of the population include Buddhists, Jains, Zoroastrians, Jews, and Baha’is.

Besides backing its militant wings, the BJP government is promulgating discriminatory laws with the sole objective to purge India of all non-Hindu communities. Under the same strategy, India revoked the special status of IIOJK with a view to change its demography by converting Muslim majority into minority.

The Human Rights Watch, in its latest report, said that in February 2020, at least 53 people were killed in communal violence that broke out in Delhi. Over 200 were injured, properties destroyed, and communities displaced in targeted attacks by Hindu mobs.

“A July report by the Delhi Minorities Commission said the violence in Delhi was “planned and targeted,” and found that the police were filing cases against Muslim victims for the violence, but not taking action against the BJP leaders who incited it,” the HRW report says.

In Modi’s India, minorities face existential threat amidst rise of saffron terror

The Uttar Pradesh authorities arrested 4,000 people over allegations of cow slaughter under the law preventing it.

The rights watchdog observed that the anti-Muslim rhetoric surged following the outbreak of COVID-19 as the Indian authorities blamed Muslims for spreading the virus through congregational prayers and labelled it as a “Talibani crime” and “CoronaTerrorism.”

In Modi’s India, minorities face existential threat amidst rise of saffron terror
Four Dalit youths who skin dead animals for a living were thrashed with iron rods, chained to a car and dragged to a police station by a mob who accused them of slaughtering a cow.

Similarly, according to the 2019 government data, crimes against Dalits increased by 7% in India. In varying incidents, 40 Dalit families in Odisha were socially boycotted when a 15-year-old girl plucked flowers from the backyard of a dominant caste family; a Dalit man was stripped for allegedly touching the motorcycle of a dominant caste man; and a Dalit lawyer was killed over his social media posts critical of Brahminism.

The Christian NGO Persecution Relief reported 293 cases of attacks on or harassment of Christians in the country in the first half of the last year, despite the widespread pandemic lockdown.

However, most of the Indian media, which usually posed as a champion of human rights and have been unnecessarily blaming Taliban in Afghanistan for human rights abuses, turns a blind eye to their domestic situation.

Even the repeated calls by the human rights watchdogs and the United Nations could not change their Hindutva mindset and make them speak for truth.

As India is a 1.3 billion people market, the international players too seldom speak against human rights abuses in India.

The human rights situation in India was not discussed by former US President Donald Trump even during his visit to the country. The European Union failed to publicly raise concerns on India’s deteriorating human rights record.

However, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet voiced concerns over human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Indian parliament passed the CAA in December 2019 to provide an expedited path to citizenship for Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh but excluded similarly situated Muslims, Jews, atheists, and members of other faiths. 

After the Indian unilateral action of August 5, 2019 in IIOJK, the Indian authorities massively arrested people to prevent protest demonstrations.

Out of 554 habeas corpus petitions filed in Jammu and Kashmir High court seeking information about the detained people or challenging unlawful detention, the court passed judgment in only 29 cases in a year by September last year.

Most of the territory continues to face internet shutdown or just 2G slow-speed connectivity. The Indian authorities put restrictions to video calls, emails, or access to web pages with photos or videos.

“The longer Hindu nationalists are in power, the greater the change will be to Muslims’ status and the harder it will be to reverse such changes,” says Ashutosh Varshney, an expert on Indian intercommunal conflict at Brown University told Council on Foreign Relations.

In a latest scenario, the Indian forces are confiscating the bikes of people in IIOJK on the pretest of security making the people lose their jobs and students their study.

“With thousands of bikes seized in Kashmir, common people are going through hell. Many logistics businesses are defunct due to bikes of their delivery employees seized. Journalists whose bikes are seized lost workday,” a senior journalist Fahad Shah tweeted.

The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries estimated that within three months after August 2019, the lockdown in the territory cost the economy over US$2.4 billion. The losses nearly doubled after the COVID lockdown in March 2020 which was also unnecessarily prolonged to achieve desired results.

In a fresh spate of anti-Muslim violence in India’s smallest Tripura state, several mosques as well as residential areas of minority communities were vandalized within last 24 hours, forcing the residents to relocate.

The saner voices on social media – even from India – always took on the BJP’s Hindutva approach which they believed had dealt a blow to the secular image of the nation.

“As a Hindu I’m ashamed,” said Swara Bhasker, a renowned Indian fil actor while commenting on a video showing the RSS members disrupted the Muslims’ prayer by chanting Jai Shri Ram.

“People have turned into such hateful mobs that disrupting someone else’s prayer is considered to be an act of great religiosity. Shameful,” said Rohini Singh, a journalist.