In an intense echo of bloodletting during the partition of 1947, in which approximately 2 million people died and several lost their property and homes, phased into a rerun of the Gujrat riots in 2002, Modi’s Hinduisation is ambitiously hankering on geo-politically strategic and obfuscated regional and international championship once again. Reeling under communal violence which resulted in the death of more than 50 people and injury to another 300 in the heart of the country, Delhi, on the visit of Donald Trump to India on February 24, 2020, was a clear message of polarized internal strife. The streets in the New Delhi neighborhood were horrifyingly littered with scraps of bricks and haunted by the site of bloodbath. India is evidently stalled into Syria and Iraq like situation.
The 16th century conquistadorial silencing, to torture and mass incarceration, Stasi surveillance to demographic engineering to suppression of assemblage, the longest digital siege ever imposed in a democracy , the gagging of free press, the devastation of economy, the crippling of the education system, the criminalisation of speech (those who’ve been set free have literally had to sign “bonds of silence”) and the suppression of civil society is already a state-crafted sojourn in a Muslim majority Indian Occupied Kashmir. An unwitting war waged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in an us-versus-them culture has allowed him to turn many into state-less citizens by the introduction of CAA/NRC. It is being criticized as the “greatest act of social poisoning by a government in independent India,” aimed at making the country a Hindu state.
Not to mention the non-conformation to the international norms and law and human rights values. The Human Rights Watch published a report in 2019, observing that the BJP, filled with religious fervor drilled into his workers, uses “communal rhetoric” to spur “a violent vigilante campaign,” whereby radical cow protection groups lynched 44 people to death, 36 of them Muslims, between May 2015 and December 2018. Hindus consider cow as ‘Holy’ and disallow its meat consumption to non-Hindus. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Michelle Bachelet, has already filed an intervention application in the Indian Supreme Court against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).(1)
The violations of UN Security Council resolutions and tenets of the secular spirit of the Indian constitution, all allow a prospective anarchy to the US led international order. By declaring Russia and China as top national security threats in the 2018 American Defence Strategy, India is evidently emboldened by the US appeasement policies which regrettably contradict its own criticism on China’s detention camps for Muslims in Xinjiang province. Should we then agree with the chairperson of SDPI Board of Governors, Shafqat Kakakhel who said that “We are living in Trump era, who simply walked-out from two international agreements, i.e. Iran Nuclear Deal and UN-Paris Agreement on climate change?”(2) Modi’s scrapping of Article 370 in the occupied Kashmir and introduction of citizen amendment bill (CAB) are significantly akin with Trump’s erstwhile decisions.
At the regional level, revision of Modi’s foreign policy on ideological lines vis-à-vis its smaller neighbours in general and Pakistan in particular, and his radical and drastic changes in Indian non-aligned politics, its aspirations for great power and bidding for the UNSC permanent membership, could have perilous spillover impacts in the region. Pakistan’s foreign policy is already India-centric. His anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim rhetoric saved both the nuclear states, on February26, 2019, from an almost full-fledged war by short aerial dogfight.
Similarly, condemning Modi of “killing Muslims” and “patronizing communal violence” in his country, the demonstrators in Bangladesh demanded their government cancel its earlier invitation to him for an official visit on March 17, 2020. “We want punishment of killer Modi,”(3) “Killer Modi has no place on the soil of Bangladesh.”(4)
On the domestic front, the Hindu nationalist BJP launched a three-pronged strategy against the Muslim minority:
- It struck down the special status of the Indian-occupied Kashmir (IOK). By doing so, it dishonored both the legal and moral foundations of the post-World War order.
- Secondly, it manipulated through RSS extremist organisations perpetrating unbridled religious violence against Muslims and other minorities without impunity.
- Thirdly and finally, embedding religious discrimination by the introduction of controversial citizenship law.
Religion is essentially an individual phenomenon. Its realization calls for building up a religious fellowship. If the interests of a group are couched in a garb of religion; they are easily manipulated/ persuaded to lay their lives while ignoring the original objective of religion. It is basically a fulfillment of soul which directs a code of life. It easily becomes an ideology when politicized. In this manner, religion starts rendering the material and political goals and the thin line between faith and politics gets exploited. How would then the killings in pursuit of material or political goals at such massive scale, which are unbecoming of human dignity and life, be defined as “communal riots” only? More so, when they are not simply a clash between two mobs or groups? In Delhi, the state was clearly seen siding with one group either by looking away or by encouraging and sometimes even directly participating in the violence? It had clearly used its instrument of police force against a community of Muslims which incidentally is also the largest minority in India. How would be a line drawn between the riot and progrom- a term devised in tsarist Russia when pogroms were launched against Jews? At prima facie, it is no less than an organized cleansing of Muslims through annihilation and egregious disgrace directly by the central government in Delhi, which is the capital of the state of India, unlike Gujrat massacre. If Modi was boycotted as the Chief Minister of Gujrat, should the hug have been tighter by Donald Trump on unleashing pogrom?
*Shamsa Nawaz is working as a Senior Research Associate/ Editor at Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad.
- Samanwaya Rautray, Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury “UNHCR moves SC against CAA; India rejects intervention,” The Economic Times,” March 4, 2020. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/unhcr-moves-sc-against-caa-india-rejects-intervention/articleshow/74468523.cms
- ‘Ultra-nationalist Indian regime threat to Indus Water Treaty,’ The NEWS, March 4, 2020. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/623503-ultra-nationalist-indian-regime-threat-to-indus-water-treaty
- MD Kamaruzzaman, “ Bangladeshis protest upcoming visit of Indian Premier,” World Asia Pacific, March 11, 2020, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/bangladeshis-protest-upcoming-visit-by-indian-premier/1757068
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