Persecution of Minorities in India
India 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. As part of persecution of minorities, these atrocities and injustices still continue in one way or the other.
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.
In this regard, 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.”
It is notable that historical background and religious beliefs which have formed the habits and national character of Hindus are quite different from the other ethnic and religious communities. Indians still have a strong belief in the superiority of their race. Indian Hindus are followers of Chanakya (Say some thing else and do some thing else). These facts have been verified by the misdeeds of Hindu fundamentalist parties like the BJP, RSS, VHP, Shiv Sina and Bajrang Dal which have missed no opportunity to communalize national politics of India.
In fact, India is a vocal advocate of secularism but nowhere else in the world secularism was so blatantly betrayed. In this context, Moulana Azad had said, “I firmly hold that communal frenzy will disappear when India assumes the responsibility of her own destiny.” Quite contrarily, in so-called secular India, Azad’s hope was completely belied, as Hindu fanaticism is continuously gaining momentum and strength.
It is surprising that theoretically, Indian Constitution safeguards the rights of minorities, but in practice, ideology of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) prevails. Hindu majority led by the BJP has shown complete disregard to it, and commit excesses and cruelties against Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Dalits with impunity.
Hindu politics and culture, dominated by the fundamentalist parties such as BJP, VHP, Shiv Sena and RSS including other extremist outfits have been propagating Hindutva. Provocative utterances of their extremist leaders have resulted into unending violence especially against the Muslims and Christians.
It is mentionable that Hinduvta agenda enabled BJP hardliner, Narendra Modi to get a land sliding triumph in the Indian elections 2014, who has become the prime minister. In this respect, RSS driven anti-Muslim move of the BJP including other Hindu fanatic parties could be judged from various recent 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 might be cited as example.
It is noteworthy that in 1992, a large crowd of Hindu Karsevaks (volunteers) in accordance with a preplanned scheme of the Indian high officials entirely demolished the 16th-century Babri Masjid (mosque) to reclaim the land known as RAM Janmabhoomi–birthplace of the god. The destruction of the Babri Masjid sparked Muslim outrage around the country, provoking several months of inter-communal rioting between Hindu and Muslim communities, causing the death of at least 2,000 people, majority of whom were Muslims.
On September 13, 2008, the communal riots in Uttar Pradesh killed more than 200 Muslims. In one of the most tragic incidents in Assam, Hindu extremists burnt alive six members of a Muslim family.
Similarly, in the recent years, assaults on Christians, their churches and property have been executed by the Hindu mobs in various cities of India. In this connection, at least 100 Christians have been assassinated by Hindu extremists, mostly in the state of Orissa.
It is of particular attention that on November 7, 2011, leader of the VHP, Pravin Togadia, in his furious speech questioned the past of Muslims and Christians, and further gave a call to Hindus to capture the Islamic holy places in Arab and Vatican of Europe.
It is worth-mentioning that forced conversions of other religious minorities into Hindus also continue. In this regard, 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) ceremony in Agra, Uttar Pradesh.
Previously, in early September 2014, Christians were also forcefully converted to Hindus which created unrest among Christian clergy. Four months ago, a similar event in Aligarh saw Christian families converting to Hinduism. BJP is trying to portray the event as wishful conversions; however, 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 on atrocious attitude of Hindu majority has highlighted the plight of minorities in India. The report was presented before Indian general elections 2014.
But, it is strange that US government denied visa to Modi on the basis of his involvement in Gujrat pogrom, however, after his election as Indian prime minister, the stance of American government changed to his favour. And, more than 2500 Muslims were massacred in 2002 in the BJP-ruled Indian state of Gujarat. Regarding that massive genocide, both Human Rights Watch in 2002 and Amnesty International in 2003 charged the “Gujarat state administration” for involvement in “a massive cover-up of the state’s role in that massacre” and pointed out numerous police officials—specifically ministers, high officials and leaders of the VHP, BJP and Bajrang Dal as participants.”
Nevertheless, 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 had 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, kidnapping, forced conversion etc.
Nonetheless, despite eye witness testimony, implicating the highest elected political officials, justice continues to evade the victims. In a recent development, 70 accused persons of Gujrat pogrom were set free by the court.
While, Narendra Modi, the then Chief Minister of Gujrat and mastermind of the Muslim massacre, has reportedly, destroyed all the documents related to the 2002 genocide of the Muslims. Keeping his past record, it can be forecasted easily that minorities in India will face further persecution and barbarity at the hands of Hindu extremists as Modi is in power saddles.
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 the like. The hate campaign unleashed by the fundamentalist forces is keeping the minority wholly preoccupied with defending their basic human rights and cultural identity.
It is the right hour that the West and particular the US must abandon its double standard by taking appropriate steps against persecution of minorities in India. Otherwise, Hindu extremists may cause World War 111 or clash of civilizations in wake of global war against terrorism.
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