By Altaf Moti
The persecution of Muslims in India is a serious human rights issue that has been escalating in recent years. Muslims, who constitute about 14% of India’s population, have faced discrimination, violence, and harassment from Hindu extremists and state authorities. One of the most recent and horrific examples of this persecution is the Haryana riots that erupted in July 2023.
The Haryana riots were a series of communal clashes that originated in the Nuh district of Haryana, a state in northern India, and spread to nearby regions. The violence began on July 31, 2023, when a Hindu nationalist group called the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) organized a religious procession through a Muslim-majority area. The procession was seen as a provocation by the local Muslims who objected to the loud music and slogans that the VHP members were chanting. A video posted on social media by a wanted suspect in a previous murder case of two Muslim men also inflamed the tensions. The video showed him announcing his plans to join the procession and challenging the Muslim community.
The situation soon turned violent, as both sides attacked each other with stones, sticks and firearms. The police tried to intervene but were outnumbered and overwhelmed by the mobs. Two police officers and three civilians were killed in the clashes and dozens more were injured. Several vehicles and shops were also torched by the rioters. The violence spread to other parts of Haryana, including Gurugram, Faridabad, and Palwal which are close to the capital city of New Delhi. The authorities imposed a curfew, suspended internet service and deployed thousands of paramilitary and police forces to restore order. However, the situation remained tense and volatile for several days.
According to reports, the Haryana government has demolished more than 300 Muslim homes and businesses in Nuh district since August 3, 2023, claiming that they were illegal encroachments or involved in the violence . However, locals have disputed these claims and accused the authorities of targeting them without any notice or due process . They have also alleged that the demolition drive is a form of collective and selective punishment for the Muslim community, which constitutes about 77% of Nuh’s population.
The demolition drive has left hundreds of families homeless and destitute, as they have lost their sources of income and livelihood. Some of them have been living in the area for decades and have valid documents to prove their ownership or tenancy . The demolition drive has also violated their fundamental rights and dignity as human beings, as they have been subjected to harassment, intimidation, and humiliation by the police and other officials .
The demolition drive is not the only instance of violence and vandalism that the Muslims in Nuh and other parts of Haryana have faced in the aftermath of the riots. According to eyewitnesses and media reports, several Muslim properties including mosques, shops, hotels and vehicles were torched or damaged by Hindu mobs during the clashes . The police and the administration failed to protect them or prevent the attacks and in some cases even joined or abetted the rioters . The Muslims also faced threats, abuse and boycott from some Hindu groups who accused them of being responsible for the violence .
The burning of Muslim properties has caused immense loss and trauma to the victims who have not received any compensation or justice from the government. Some of them have also been falsely implicated or arrested in connection with the riots while many others have fled their homes in fear of further attacks. The burning of Muslim properties has also created a sense of insecurity and alienation among the them who feel that they are not safe or welcome in their own country.
The bulldozing of houses and burning of properties are clear examples of how Muslims in India are being persecuted and discriminated against by the state and society. These acts are not only illegal and immoral but also counterproductive and dangerous for India’s democracy and diversity. They fuel hatred and resentment among different communities and undermine the values of peace and harmony.
The Haryana riots are not an isolated incident but rather a reflection of the deep-rooted animosity and hatred that exists between Hindus and Muslims in India. The country has witnessed several episodes of communal violence since its independence from British rule in 1947 when it was partitioned into Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. The partition resulted in a massive migration of millions of people across the borders. Since then, India has experienced periodic outbreaks of sectarian violence that have claimed thousands of lives.
The persecution of Muslims in India has been exacerbated by the rise of Hindu nationalism and extremism in recent years. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has pursued a Hindu-centric agenda that has marginalized and alienated the Muslim minority. The BJP has enacted controversial laws and policies that have discriminated against Muslims such as the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which grants citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from neighboring countries; the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which requires people to prove their citizenship or face deportation; and the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), which seeks to replace personal laws based on religion with a common code for all citizens.
The BJP has also supported and patronized radical Hindu groups such as the VHP, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and the Bajrang Dal which have been involved in various acts of violence and intimidation against Muslims. These groups have propagated a hateful ideology that demonizes Muslims as invaders, terrorists, traitors, and cow-killers. They have also tried to convert Muslims to Hinduism through coercion or inducement.
The persecution of Muslims in India is a grave violation of their fundamental rights and dignity as human beings. It also poses a threat to India’s secular democracy and pluralistic society. It is imperative that the Indian government takes urgent steps to protect its Muslim and non-hindu citizens from further harm and injustice. It must also ensure that those responsible for the Haryana riots and other incidents of communal violence are brought to justice. It must also promote dialogue and reconciliation between Hindus, Muslims and other communities and foster a culture of tolerance and respect for diversity. Only then can India live up to its motto of “unity in diversity” and its vision of being a “land of Gandhi”.