Religious and Ethnic Chauvinism in India
Since the leader of the ruling party BJP Narendra Modi became Prime Minister of India, various developments like unprecedented rise of Hindu extremism, persecution of minorities, forced conversions of other religious minorities into Hindus, ban on beef and cow slaughter, inclusion of Hindu religious books in curriculum, creation of war-like situation with Pakistan etc. clearly show that encouraged by the fundamentalist rulers, Hindu extremist outfits such as BJP, RSS VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena including other similar parties have been promoting religious and ethnic chauvinism in India by propagating ideology of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism).
In fact, on the basis of anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan slogans, BJP got a land sliding victory in the Indian elections 2014. Hence, Prime Minister Modi is giving impetus to Hindu chauvinism against Pakistan, as under his directions, New Delhi accelerated unprovoked firing at the Line of Control in Kashmir and Working Boundary across Pak-Indian border, even without bothering for nuclear war.
In this regard, some recent developments and incidents have verified the anti-Pakistan approach of India. On October 19, this year, a meeting between India and Pakistan’s cricket board chiefs in Mumbai regarding India’s participation in Pakistan’s home series in December has been cancelled after a protest by far-right Hindu nationalists of Shiv Sena, who by shouting anti-Pakistan slogans, broke into the office of the Indian cricket board. Some Shiv Sena activists were arrested in relation to the incident, but set free by Indian court which took no action against leaders and workers. On the same day, activists of a Hindu extremist group threw ink on a Muslim member of Jammu and Kashmir Legislature Assembly (MLA), Engineer Rashid, in New Delhi. On October 7, he had been beaten up by BJP members in the assembly a day after he had reportedly hosted a beef party.
The ink attack in New Delhi came a week after Shiv Sena extremists threw ink over an Indian politician, Sudheendra Kulkarni who was organizer of former Pakistani foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book launch in Mumbai. Earlier this October, the party forced cancellation of a concert in Mumbai by Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali.
Similarly, in the month of October, some policemen in India’s Mumbai city subjected two Muslim boys to severe torture and asked them to go to Pakistan. A group of local villagers, belonging to Hindu fundamentalists also targeted a Muslim man Noman who was beaten to death and four other men in Himachal Pradesh after seeing them, transporting cattle in a truck. And a Muslim man died after being kicked and beaten by a group of Hindus over rumours that he ate beef.
Surprisingly, India is the world s largest exporter of beef and is its fifth biggest consumer, but cow slaughter has been virtually forbidden under the Modi rule.
Radicalization of India by Hindu fanatic groups could be judged from some other developments. On May 28, 2014, Rashtriya Hindu Andolan, a Mangalore-based Hindutva outfit and activists from various right wing groups organized a protest in Mangalore in front of the office of Deputy Commissioner by demanding the authorities to ban the morning Muslim call to prayer (Azan) across the country. Besides, forcing the Muslim employee in a Parliament Canteen by BJP leader to break his fast by stuffing piece of bread in his mouth, statement of Deputy Chief of Goa, declaring India as a Hindu state, opposition to declaration of Sania Mirza as Ambassador of Indian state by calling her daughter-in-law of Pakistan might be cited as example.
Besides other anti-Muslim incidents like the discovery of the unmarked graves of thousands of the innocent Kashmiris, killed by the Indian security forces in the Indian-held Kashmir, pre-planned destruction of the Babri Masjid (mosque) in 1992 and genocide of the 2500 Muslims in 2002 in the then BJP-ruled Indian state of Gujarat where Modi was Chief Minister—and participants of the Indian high officials in the events especially be cited as instance. But, it is strange that US government denied visa to Modi on the basis of his involvement in Gujrat programme, however, after his election as Indian prime minister, American stance changed to his favour.
In the recent past, frequent events of gang rape, specially the rape of elderly Nun shows the ugly face of India. Besides various attacks on the foreigners, assault on Australian couple tortured for having religious tattoos is noteworthy.
It is notable that forced conversions of other religious minorities into Hindus also continue. In this respect, Bajrang Dal, an offshoot of the RSS, converted at least 57 Muslim families (200 people) into Hindus at a ‘Purkhon Ki Ghar Vapsi’ (Coming home of the ancestors) or Shudhi (Purification) ceremony in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Previously, in early September 2014, Christians were also forcefully converted to Hindus which created unrest among Christian clergy. Six months ago, a similar event in Aligarh saw Christian families converting to Hinduism. Nevertheless, since installment of BJP government in the center, RSS and its offshoots have accelerated their efforts for minorities’ conversion into Hindus.
As regards persecution of minorities in India, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission Testimony by Human Rights Watch presented before US Senate Committee (2014) on atrocious attitude of Hindu majority has highlighted the plight of minorities in India.
As a matter of fact, organized events of crimes against the Christian minority including Muslim and phenomenal rise in Hindu fanaticism is state sponsored policy of India, under BJP which uses Indian intelligence agencies, RAW and other similar outfits for the proliferation and achievement of the same. They have missed no opportunity to communalize national politics of India. However, Ne Delhi has broken all the records of violence, genocide and massacre perpetrated on various ethnic and religious groups entailing the community of its own lower castes.
Although apparently, India claims to be the largest democracy, acting upon the principles of liberalism and secularism, yet in practice, all political, economic and social fields of the country are divided on the caste lines. It is surprising that theoretically, Indian Constitution safeguards the rights of minorities, but in practice, ideology of Hindutva prevails. Hindu majority led by the BJP has shown complete disregard to the Constitution, and commit excesses and cruelties against Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Dalits with impunity.
In this context, Tim Sullivan of the Associated Press wrote, “There’s a lot of lip service to saying ‘I’m an Indian first, and ‘I’ do not believe in caste,” said D’Souza, a prominent campaigner for Dalits, as India’s “untouchables” at the very bottom of the caste system are now known.” Sullivan elaborated, “When it comes to sharing power, to interaction and to sharing social status, low-caste Indians are very much marginalized.”
Nonetheless, some of the fanatic Hindu groups are not in favour of a separate and distinct culture for minorities. A Hindu fundamentalist namely Prof Balraj Madhok has suggested that the minorities must adopt Indian (Hindu) names.
Now, schools and other educational institutions are being systematically Hinduized. References to Hindu gods and goddesses abound in the text books. Books, prescribed by the Education Boards contain lessons giving false stories of Muslim atrocities on Hindu women.
Undoubtedly, Hindu fundamentalism is increasingly widening its influence everywhere and has already established for itself a firm base in every sector of the Indian society including bureaucracy, media, educational institutions, and so on.
The hate campaign unleashed by the Indian fundamentalist forces is keeping the minority wholly preoccupied with defending their basic human rights and cultural identity. Hindu fanatics are tightening the noose around the minorities and ethnic groups in India, as maltreatment with them continues unabated.
Meanwhile, learning no lesson from the past, and depending upon state terrorism, Modi has finalized the raising of Indian Reserve Police Battalions (IRBPs) in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and Naxal/Maoist hit states or Left Wing Extremism (LWE) areas, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Out of the total 25 IRBPs proposed, five will be for IOK and 12 for LWE affected states whereas rest of 8, IRBPs for other states. While, a number of separatist movements in India indicates wide scale social injustice and gross human rights violations in the country.
It is of particular attention that 50 Indian writers have returned their awards in protest to rising Hindu extremism under Modi rule.
It is the right hour that the West and particular the US must abandon its double standard by taking appropriate steps against maltreatment with the minorities in India. Otherwise, by promoting religious and ethnic chauvinism in India, Hindu extremists may cause World War 111 or clash of civilizations.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations