THE BJP AND ISRAEL: HINDU NATIONALISM IS RAVAGING DEMOCRACY IN INDIA

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It was only a matter of time before the anti-Muslim sentiment in India turned violent. A country that has historically prided itself on its diversity and tolerance and for being ‘the largest democracy in the world’ has, in recent years, exhibited the exact opposite qualities – chauvinism, racism, religious intolerance, and, at times, extreme violence.

The latest round of violence ensued on February 23, one day before U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in Delhi on his first official visit to India.

Trump is a beloved figure among Hindu nationalists, especially supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has ruled India since 2014.

BJP, under the leadership of Narendra Modi, has wreaked havoc on Indian politics and foreign policy. However, the damage that this ultra-nationalist movement has caused to Indian society is unmatched since the country’s independence in 1947.

Under BJP rule, hatred for Muslims, a sizable minority of over 200 million, among other minority groups, has grown over the years to represent the core discourse of a movement that is ideologically and morally bankrupt.

Jumping on the Islamophobia bandwagon, which has grown exponentially since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Hindu nationalists disguised their racist and chauvinistic ideology as part of a global ‘war on terror’.

It was no surprise, then, to see Modi reaching out to like-minded Islamophobes, the likes of right-wing Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The seemingly unbreakable Modi-Netanyahu ‘friendship’ underlies a growing pro-Israel movement among Hindu nationalists.

Hindu nationalists embrace Israel

Hindu nationalist ideologues and pro-Israel Zionists have long discovered a common cause, one that is predicated on a collective sense of racial supremacy and intolerance for Islam and Muslims.

In fact, Israel has, in recent years, emerged as the common denominator between various ultra-nationalist and far-right groups in India and across the globe. Strangely but tellingly, some of these groups are known for hostility towards Jews and outright antisemitism. However, for these groups, the anti-immigrant, anti-refugee and anti-Muslim sentiments were far more pressing priorities than all else.

While Europe and North America have received a greater share of political analysis regarding the rise of Islamophobia around the world, countries like India, Burma, and China have largely been excluded from the discussion.

It is true that the discrimination and violence against China’s Muslim minority, the Uyghurs, Burma’s Rohingya population and India’s Muslims, have all received a relatively fair share of media attention and analysis. However, the targeting of Muslims in these polities is largely perceived as provisional ‘conflicts’ that are unique to these areas, with little or no connection to global anti-Muslim phenomena.

But nothing could be further from the truth. For example, the fact that BJP politicians often refer to Muslim migrants in India as ‘infiltrators and termites’ mirrors the same dehumanizing lexicon used by Buddhist nationalists in Burma and Israeli Zionists in Palestine.

The likes of the Hindu Samhati movement, known for its anti-Muslim bigotry, has, therefore, become essential to this new global anti-Muslim brand. And, according to the same disturbing logic, hating Muslims then becomes synonymous with loving apartheid Israel.

Hence, it was not a complete surprise to see tens of thousands of Hindu nationalists rallying in Calcutta in February 2018 in what was described by organizers as “the largest pro-Israel rally” in history.

But what took place in New Delhi in February was more ominous than any other previous display of violence. Dozens of Indian Muslims were beaten to death and hundreds more were severely injured by mobs of angry Hindu nationalists.

While India is no stranger to mob violence, the recent bouts of bloodshed in that country are most alarming considering it is a rational outcome of a racist trajectory that has been championed by the BJP and their supporters.

Particularly alarming were scenes of Indian security forces either watching the brutality against Indian Muslims unfold without intervening or objecting in any way, or worse, participating in the violence themselves.

While it is rightly argued that the anti-Muslim campaign in India was triggered by Modi’s Citizenship Amendment Act which ultimately aims at rendering millions of Muslims in India stateless, the ailment lies in the BJP itself – a purely xenophobic movement that exploits the grievances of the poor and marginalized in India to maintain political power.

It goes without saying that India’s Modi is a far cry from the India that was envisaged by Mahatma Gandhi or the country’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

Unfortunately, with Modi and the BJP in power, India will experience yet more tragic days ahead. Flanked by equally racist and violent allies in Tel Aviv and Washington, Modi feels empowered to carry out more such sinister and discriminatory measures against the country’s vulnerable minorities, especially Muslims.

It is essential that we educate ourselves further about the situation in India, and that we understand the anti-Muslim politics and violence in that country within the larger global context. India’s Muslims need our solidarity more than ever before, especially as the emboldened BJP and their chauvinistic leader seem to have no moral boundaries whatsoever.

Feature photo | Hindu nationalists gather in India’s capital to demand construction of a Hindu temple on the ruins of a 16th century mosque in northern Indian city of Ayodhya, Dec. 9, 2018. Bernat Armangue | AP


By Ramzy Baroud
Source: MintPress News

India victimizing detained Hurriyat leaders

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Release of Kashmiri detainees demanded

Srinagar, March 21 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, Hurriyat organizations have said that India is victimizing the illegally detained Hurriyat leaders and activists to intimidate the Kashmiris into submission and force them to stop resisting its illegal hold over Jammu and Kashmir.

Hurriyat organizations including Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, Tehreek-e-Mazahmat, Kashmir Tehreek-e-Khawateen, Tehreek-e-Wahdat-e-Islami and Democratic Political Movement in their statements said that Narendra Modi-led communal government in New Delhi had devised a plan to send Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman, Muhammad Yasin Malik, to gallows in a 30-year-old false case. They maintained that India was plotting to prolong the illegal detention of Hurriyat leaders and annihilate them. They appealed to the world human rights bodies to take cognizance of the plight of the Kashmiri detainees.

Meanwhile, the Grand Mufti of occupied Kashmir, Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam, addressing a meeting of religious leaders held in Srinagar, today, to discuss the situation arising out of coronovirus spread, demanded release of all illegally detained Kashmiris, saying that the prisoners could be affected by the disease as most of the jails lacked basic facilities.

Hurriyat leader, Ghulam Muhammad Khan Sopori, in a statement in Srinagar said that due to the lockdown in different countries in the wake of coronovirus pandemic, the world community must have no difficulty in realizing the sufferings the people of occupied Kashmir had been going through during the continued military siege for the past over seven months.

The Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Employees Movement, Muhammad Shafi Lone, in a statement in Srinagar deplored that the Indian government and its agencies had implicated the illegally detained Muhammad Yasin Malik in a three decades old fake case.

The illegally detained Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Salvation Movement, Zafar Akbar Butt, was admitted at a police hospital in Srinagar after his health deteriorated at Chanapora police station in Srinagar. The JKSM President, Altaf Ahmed Butt, in a statement in Islamabad called for immediate release of Zafar Akbar Butt and other Kashmiri detainees.

On the other hand, an Indian soldier committed suicide by shooting himself with his service rifles while on duty at Civil Secretariat in Srinagar, last night. This incident raised the number of such deaths among Indian troops and police personnel in occupied Kashmir to 448 since January 2007.

APHC-AJK leader, Sheikh Abdul Mateen, in a statement in Islamabad denounced the chargesheet against Muhammad Yasin Malik by a TADA court in a 30-year-old fake case. He said that India is using its judiciary to suppress the resolve of the Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders and activists but would never succeed in its nefarious designs. The Chairman of Kashmir Council Europe, Ali Raza Syed, in a statement issued in Brussels called upon the world community to put pressure on India to immediately release Muhammad Yasin Malik.

10 martyred in IOK in February

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India extends 37 laws to IOK

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Srinagar, March 01 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, Indian troops in their unabated acts of state terrorism martyred 10 Kashmiris during the last month of February.

According to the data issued by the Research Section of Kashmir Media Service, today, of those killed, three were martyred in fake encounters or in custody. During the month, 30 people were critically injured due to use of brute force and firing of teargas shells by Indian police and paramilitary personnel on peaceful demonstrators in the occupied territory while 137 civilians, mostly youth, were arrested. Most of the detainees were booked under black law, Public Safety Act.

The people of the Kashmir Valley continue to hit by severe hardships due to the ongoing military siege and internet suspension on the 210th successive day, today. More than 50 per cent industrial unites have completely stopped functioning as a result of seven-month lockdown and internet gag.

In view of the mass uprising threat in the upcoming summer against revocation of Kashmir’s special status, India has decided to retain its additional troops, brought into the territory in the wake of New Delhi’s illegal action of August 5, last year. At least 400 additional companies of paramilitary forces including Central Reserve Police Force and Border Security Force were deployed in Kashmir the day before the Article 370 was revoked.

Meanwhile, Indian occupation authorities invoked draconian law Public Safety Act against two more Kashmiri youth identified as Pervez Jilani and Tashoq Ahmad.

In yet another step towards the total annexation of occupied Jammu and Kashmir with India, New Delhi has approved 37 laws, which could not be previously applicable to the territory because of its special status under Article 370 of the Indian constitution. Indian Food and Drug Control department has refused to register more than 8,000 Kashmiri students who completed medical assistant course during the year 2019 citing the reason that they completed the course under the Pharmacy Act of occupied Jammu and Kashmir, which did no longer exist after the abrogation of Kashmir’s special status.

The first opening ceremony of the book ‘Dogra Ahd Ka Rajouri’ by Maulana Shamsi, the Chairman of Pir Panjal Civil Society, was held in Rajouri. A large number of people from different walks of life from Rajouri and Poonch districts attended the ceremony.

In Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, over 22 Kashmiri students of Aligarh Muslim University were booked on the charge of participating in anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests.

 

Anti-Muslim violence in India reaches alarming proportions

By C J Werleman

Source

The ongoing brutality in New Delhi dubbed ‘communal violence’ is the live unfolding of a pogrom against Muslims.

The international media fixated on the pomp and ceremony, or rather glitz and glam of what was a two-day extravaganza of right-wing populist and ultranationalist odes and slogans. US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi went about their business pretending as though the country’s second-largest city wasn’t literally and actually on fire.

On Monday, pro-government Hindutva thugs responded to the city’s ongoing and growing protests against recently legislated anti-Muslim citizenship laws, otherwise known as the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC), by attacking protesters and setting Muslim owned homes, cars and businesses alight.

Eerily, the same Hindu nationalist goons had marked Hindu-owned properties with saffron-coloured flags to help attackers identify Muslim targets, borrowing a sinister measure used on the eve of the 2002 Gujarat riots, which left more than 2,000 Muslims killed and thousands more battered, raped, and abused.

Starting in the Muslim-majority areas of northeast Delhi, the violence spilt into Monday evening, culminating with the deaths of at least two anti-CAA protesters, and the injuries of dozens more.

Footage shows Delhi Police officers firing tear gas shells into a crowd, followed by baton large charges. By Wednesday morning, the death toll had risen to at least 20. Among the dead are a 22-year-old rickshaw driver, a labourer, and a father of six.

A video that went viral on social media shows a dozen or so Muslim males being kicked and beaten before being forced by police to recite Vande Mataram — India’s national song and a nationalist ode of sorts — as they lay defenceless on the ground.

Another shows an isolated Muslim man being mercilessly punched and kicked by a mob of dozens of pro-government street thugs, as cars and shops around him are vandalised, while another shows a Muslim shrine being torched with a petrol bomb.

Hindus have woken up after long [passivity],” one man, who identified as a pro-CAA protester, told a local journalist as he carried out an arson attack.

On Tuesday afternoon, a mob chanting Jai Shri Ram (victory to Lord Rama) and Hinduon ka Hindustan (India for Hindus) surrounded a mosque in Ashok Nagar, before setting it alight, while a man placed a Hanuman flag atop its minaret.

That footage also shows Delhi Police officers participating in the violence, joining pro-CAA protesters in throwing rocks at Muslims, underscores the dangerous new reality the country’s largest religious minority now face.

“The police is with us,” a Hindu man says in a video posted on Twitter, as his colleagues throw rocks toward mostly Muslim anti-CAA protesters.

Chillingly, these moments of violent mayhem and madness, which evidently enjoy the tacit and implicit approval of the Modi government, are perpetrated to an ode to a Hindu deity, but one now heard as a death chant to victims of this violence. Today, Jai Sri Ram is typically the last three words a Muslim hears the moment before he or she is attacked or murdered.

All across India, Modi radicalised saffron terrorists are assaulting, raping, and lynching Muslims with impunity, as government leaders openly refer to the religious minority as “termites” and “pests,” while they declare an urge for another 1947-scale Muslim exodus.

Earlier this month, hundreds of right-wing nationalists converged on New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University (JMI), chanting anti-Muslim slogans and shouting, “shoot the bastards” as police stood by as idle onlookers.

Recently, the international watchdog group Genocide Watch recently issued genocide alerts for Muslims in both Kashmir and Assam.

“Preparation for genocide is definitely underway in India…The next stage is extermination – that’s what we call a genocide,” said Professor Gregory Stanton, the author of the 10 Stages of Genocide in a speech to US lawmakers in December.

Certainly, both territories are ground zero in the government’s effort to marginalise and make invisible the country’s persecuted religious minority, with eight million Muslims in Kashmir living under a military lockdown and communications blackout that has now surpassed 200 days. Three million Muslims in Assam face the prospect of deportation or detainment as a result of measures implemented as a result of the NRC.

“My mother gave birth to me at home. My birth was never registered, so how do I produce a certificate?” a Muslim resident of Assam told Foreign Policy. “Nor do I have land ownership or tenancy records dating back five decades. Although we’re law-abiding citizens, having lived peacefully in India all our lives, we might be thrown out of the country.”

The events of the past 48 hours have demonstrated that the safety and well-being of India’s 200 million Muslims have never been in greater peril since the Gujarat pogroms and the violence of partition.

Should they become the target of overt state-sanctioned violence, recognising they always been the target of covert violence in the country, then the international community would be presented with a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions, resulting in the world’s largest pogrom and humanitarian crisis.

At the helm is Narendra Modi, a man accused of direct involvement in the country’s most recent anti-Muslim pogrom during his capacity as Gujarat’s chief minister.

If these realities aren’t enough to give rise to global alarm, then what is?

Is India sleepwalking toward a Muslim Holocaust?

By Irfan Raja

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Men ride a motorcycle past security forces patrolling a street in a riot-affected area after clashes erupted over the new anti-Muslim citizenship law in New Delhi, India, Feb. 26, 2020. (REUTERS Photo)
Men ride a motorcycle past security forces patrolling a street in a riot-affected area after clashes erupted over the new anti-Muslim citizenship law in New Delhi, India, Feb. 26, 2020. (REUTERS Photo)

The holocaust – the last century’s tragedy that left unbearable losses and stains on the face of secular Europe – could happen again in secular India.

Shockingly, Indian Muslims are experiencing the same sets of denunciation as the Jews faced under the Nazi regime: exclusion from mainstream society, racial profiling based upon belief, negative media representation and bigotry.

Exactly identical to the representation of Jews in German films and press during the Nazi rule as the “bad guys,” the Bollywood films and sections of the Indian media portray Muslims as gangsters, dons, smugglers, terrorists and anti-state actors.

Hindu nationalist RSS terrorists are ideological equals of the Nazis. They back and endorse more horrific forms of torture including the imprisonment of Muslims in detention centers, police raids on Muslims mosques and at Jamia University, brutally beating young and elderly Muslims in public, intentionally demolishing their homes and lynching on the pretext of “holy cow protection.”

What hypocrisy! At home, Hindu radical mobs kill any Muslim who eats beef, but the outside world sees India as the world’s largest exporter of beef, an activity that has dramatically increased under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. This is the real face of a democratic India that is clearly anti-Muslim.

History seems to be repeating itself. As the Nazi Jews were seen as “disloyal” and “enemies within,” similarly, in today’s India, from Kashmir and Assam to Bengal, Indian Muslims have to prove their loyalty to Modi’s fascist government which considers them the “enemy within.”

Dr. Gregory Stanton believes “possible mass extermination of Muslims” is “definitely underway in India” as Modi had already committed a Muslim genocide in Gujrat.

So what can be done to stop the horrific repetition? This situation is petrifying as each day Indian Muslims are losing their hope to live as normal citizens.

Are they the new Jews?

Today, Muslims are living in concentration camps in Palestine, China, Myanmar and India.

Charles B. Anthony wrote: “Muslims are the new Jews. Perpetually vilified in the press, scapegoated by politicians and attacked in ever-increasing numbers on the street, Muslims are punished for their faith and culture, shackled to the jailer of prejudice drunk on his own self-righteous thirst for supremacy.”

Ordinary Europeans were persuaded that the Jews controlled money and businesses, conspired against their country of residence and plotted to kill European royals. The Nazis’ frequent and skillful propaganda brainwashed ordinary Germans to such an extent that they believed that the Jews must be expelled or killed.

Currently, similar patterns and tactics are in practice, as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership backs a systemic campaign aimed at Indian Muslims that labels them as outsiders, incompatible, an enemy within and a threat to the RSS version of Indian society. Therefore, Muslims must be expelled according to their rhetoric.

Such a destructive campaign against the Indian Muslims has resulted in the rise of a racist slogan – “Go back to Pakistan” – which has been heard in films and from sports stars, namely, Nasseruddin Shah.

Hitler of our time?

Today, Modi has proved that he has much in common with Hitler such as Hitler’s concept of blood superiority (the Aryan nation) and racism centered on Jews. This prompted Imran Khan to say that Modi has Hitler’s mindset.

In a similar manner, BJP’s leaders are constantly suggesting they are Brahmins and Aryans, making them superior people in comparison with the Dalit Muslims of India.

So what next? A tragic and horrible past is turning into a reality in India. Seriously, we are at the threshold of a probable Indian Muslim’s Holocaust. So what shall be done to stop it?

BJP leader Rajeshwar Singh vowed to wipe out Indian Muslims and Christians by Dec. 31, 2021. Singh said, “We have decided that Islam and Christianity will be finished in India by 2021.” This is the “pledge” of the BJP, the political party with the most representation in the Indian parliament and state assemblies.

Already, the world is witnessing a growing tidal wave of bigotry and oppression against the Indian Muslims who are being forced to live as stateless.

To put it simply, a list of the Modi’s government illegal actions includes the Citizenship Amendment Bill, National Register for Citizens (NRC) and Citizens Amendment Act (CAA).

The British liberal press such as The Guardian have criticized Modi’s government over its draconian citizenship laws. These bills are evidently anti-Muslim which shows a plan for a grand-scale expulsion and a genocide of Indian Muslims.

Whether someone takes it or denies it, this is the writing on the wall. A Muslims holocaust will happen, if not now maybe later, as Modi’s seeds of hatred against Muslims have already rooted deep.

If Modi is genuinely patriotic to India, he should not forget what happened to ordinary Germans because of Hitler’s madness.

The challenge ahead is to deprecate ill designs of the fascist BJP, and this can only happen if all peace-loving Indians come together in this battle.

India Riots: ‘We Were Attacked Because We Are Muslim’

By Stephanie Findlay and Amy Kazmin in New Delhi – Financial Times

Yasmin, a 35-year-old mother of three, clutched her blue-and-white prayer beads as she waited at a hospital mortuary to retrieve the battered body of her brother-in-law.

A resident of a gritty New Delhi neighborhood where working class Hindus and Muslims have lived side by side for years, Mehtab, a 22-year-old construction worker, had gone out on Tuesday evening to buy milk but never returned. Hauled away by stick-wielding rioters, he was found dead hours later, his body bruised and burnt.

That night, Yasmin and her husband cowered at home as marauders threatened to incinerate their neighborhood’s Muslim-owned shops and residences.

“People were chanting slogans of Jai Shri Ram [‘Hail Lord Ram’] and saying ‘leave this house — we will set it on fire’,” Yasmin said, her voice shaking with emotion. “This is the first time I am seeing such conflict. We have always considered Hindus our brothers. [Mehtab] was murdered because he was Muslim. We were attacked because we are Muslim.”

The young laborer was one of at least 35 people killed, with 200 others seriously injured, in New Delhi this week. It was the worst outbreak of sectarian violence in a big Indian city since 2002 when more than 1,000 people, mainly Muslims, were killed in riots in Gujarat.

The carnage in the Indian capital — which left swaths of the city looking like a war zone, with burnt-out mosques, shops and other buildings, shattered glass and charred vehicles — follows a steady stoking of animosity between India’s Hindu majority and its Muslim minority by Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, analysts said.

Sectarian tensions have surged since December when Modi’s government amended the country’s citizenship laws, incorporating religious criteria for the first time and giving Hindus and followers of other south Asian faiths priority over Muslims.

This week’s bloodletting coincided with a visit by Donald Trump to India, overshadowing the US president’s effusive praise for Modi. Analysts warned that the riots threatened to distract the government from the urgent task of reviving the faltering economy and realizing its ambition to become a global power.

“They’ve unleashed forces that cannot be fully controlled,” said Ashutosh Varshney, a political-science professor at Brown University. “Whether Modi and [home minister Amit] Shah can check these forces remains to be seen. Their foot soldiers on the ground are filled with the ideological fervor that has been drilled into them — the tropes of Hindu nationalism that see Muslims as enemies of India.”

Trouble in the affected area flared on Sunday after Kapil Mishra, a hardline local BJP leader, threatened Muslims who were blocking a road in an otherwise peaceful protest against the citizenship law. Addressing a crowd of rightwing Hindus right next to the sit-in, he warned that if the protesters were not gone by the time Trump’s visit was over, they would take matters into their own hands.

Shortly afterwards, witnesses said, groups of Hindus and Muslims began pelting each other with stones. By Monday, large areas were in the grip of a full-scale riot, with mobs of Hindu men, carrying firearms, petrol bombs and iron rods, marauding through the area’s congested streets, attacking passers-by and setting fire to property they suspected of being Muslim-owned.

“They were asking for identity cards to see if they are Hindu or Muslim and if they saw Muslim people they beat them,” said Abul Kalam, a 60-year-old salesman who was riding his motorbike with a Hindu colleague when they stumbled on the rioters.

In a grim echo of the violent 1947 partition of India — in which up to 2m people are thought to have died — rioters questioned people over their religion, demanding they recite prayers, show religious symbols or even pull down their trousers… said one social activist.

Witnesses said police appeared to do little to stop the rioters.

Mazid, a 32-year-old shop owner, said he and his neighbors on a mixed Hindu-Muslim street were standing together trying to protect their homes on Tuesday evening when they saw a crowd, accompanied by police officers, coming towards them.

“Police were with them and we thought maybe they will stop the violence, but then [someone] fired the shots,” said Mazid. His brother was killed and two neighbors were injured in the gunfire.

On Wednesday morning, Modi’s government, which has control over policing and is responsible for security in the capital, deployed thousands of additional paramilitary police to the riot-stricken areas to try to restore order. That afternoon, Modi took to Twitter to appeal for peace — his first public acknowledgment of the violence.

But even amid the strong police presence, tensions remained high, with many families fleeing to seek refuge with relatives elsewhere.

“People are afraid — they are leaving their homes,” said Shankar Thakur, a 28-year-old teacher. “The mobs who are coming, the police have no power to defeat them.”

Many are also questioning why it took the government so long to clamp down. “Historically, communal violence in India is never the result of weak state capacity,” said Gilles Verniers, a political-science professor at Ashoka University, near Delhi. “The state tends to prevent violence from erupting when it has the intention to do so.”

Analysts said the rioting may not be as severe as other urban violence that has rocked India. But the government’s apparent tolerance of two days of unchecked bloodshed had sent a powerful signal to a Muslim community that already felt under siege, they said.

“The violence has already served its purpose,” said Verniers. “It has asserted Hindu dominance and claimed ownership of the public sphere.”

Indian Minister: We Made a Mistake Not Committing Genocide Against Muslims

By Alan Macleod

Source

A government minister has sparked controversy after expressing his regret that India did not sufficiently ethnically cleanse itself of Muslims during the countries’ creation in 1947. At a public event in his native Bihar state, Giriraj Singh, Minister of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, rallied his supporters, claiming, “It is time to commit ourselves” to building the Indian nation properly.

“It was a big lapse by our ancestors that we’re paying the price for now. If at that time Muslim brothers had been sent there and Hindus brought here, we wouldn’t be in this situation,” he said.

NDTV

@ndtv

Muslims should have been sent to Pakistan in 1947, says Union Minister Giriraj Singh. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/giriraj-singh-muslims-should-have-been-sent-to-pakistan-in-1947-2183396 

Embedded video

This is not the first time Singh has called for retribution against the country’s 138 million Muslims. In 2016 he called for controls on Muslim procreation to limit their numbers relative to Hindus. Article Two of the United Nations Convention on Genocide (which India has signed and ratified) explicitly prohibits “imposing measures intended to prevent births within a group” as genocidal behavior, while its definition of the synonymous crime of ethnic cleansing includes “rendering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or intimidation to remove from a given area persons of another ethnic or religious group.”

Just four days ago Singh was reprimanded by his own Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for comments he made describing Muslims as a terrorist scourge and a famous Islamic seminary as the “fountainhead of terrorism” in India.

The “situation” that the minister references India currently finding itself in is the nationwide resistance against the BJP government’s attempts to marginalize and criminalize the country’s largest religious minority. The most controversial steps towards this end have been the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Registration Council (NRC). The CAA makes it easier for people from neighboring Muslim-majority countries to apply for Indian citizenship– if they are Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh or Jain. But it explicitly rejects certain classes of people it deems as undesirable, especially Muslims.

The NRC demands all Indians provide extensive documentation of their ancestors’ births and nationalities –something hundreds of millions will surely be unable to do. It, therefore, gives the government the authority to strip citizenship away from virtually anyone it wishes to, effectively rendering them stateless and without rights. This policy has already been applied to the northeastern state of Assam, where 1.9 million people were declared illegal – most of them Muslim. Modi’s government is building a network of huge detention camps to house the population, sometimes using the disenfranchised population itself to build them.

Since December, major cities across the country have seen large and ongoing protests aimed at opposing the direction the BJP is taking the country. In Delhi, people of all backgrounds have set up an occupy-style encampment in the Muslim majority Shaheen Bagh neighborhood. In response, Modi effectively placed the city under martial law in January.

The Shaheen Bagh has become a metaphor for the resistance against Modi’s attempts to move India away from its secular tradition towards a Hindu nationalist state. As one writer put it, “It’s not just about saving Indian Muslims. It’s about saving India.”

Earlier this month Delhi conducted elections, with the BJP telling voters to “press the button [of the electronic voting machine] …with such anger that the current reaches Shaheen Bagh.” However, they managed to win only eight of 70 seats, with the Aam Aadmi Party led by popular figure Arvind Kejriwal sweeping the vote. However, this should not be mistaken for a repudiation of the BJP. Indeed, Kejriwal made pains to present himself as Hindu and disassociate from being perceived as a pro-Muslim candidate.

The BJP also scored an overwhelming victory in the April/May elections last year, winning 303 of the 545 seats in the lower house of parliament, a remarkable achievement in a federated, multi-party subcontinent where nearly forty parties won seats. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi continues to retain high approval rates. Thus, Kejriwal’s reluctance to be seen as pro-Muslim and Singh’s comments serve as examples of how far the spectrum of acceptable public discourse has moved.

The growing resentment towards the Muslim population comes in the context of three decades of neoliberal economics, which has transformed society. While generating substantial economic growth, it has also brought greatly increased inequality and limited benefits for the country’s poor. Despite changing the definition of poverty to exclude people making just 26 rupees (36 U.S. cents) or more per day, over 400 million Indians remain below the poverty line. In January an estimated quarter-billion people conducted the largest strike in world history, demanding comprehensive new legislation to improve worker rights across the country.

While Modi’s government has given little to the country’s working-class economically, it has been able to provide the large Hindu majority with a Muslim enemy and an outlet to express their frustration. Singh’s latest comments serve as an example of this – and as a worrying harbinger for what could be to come.

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