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Recalling Partition Of Sub-Continent – OpEd

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August is memorable month for both India and Pakistan as they got independence from British Empire back in 1947. Thousands of people laid their lives for this noble cause to get separate homeland and seeking bright future for their next generations. The birth of India and Pakistan as independent states in 1947 was a key moment in the history of Britain’s Empire and its army. But the process of partition was attended by mass migration and ethnic violence that has left a bitter legacy to this day.

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Unfortunately, the concept of secular India is no more under the nationalist regime of Prime Minister Modi. Non-Hindus are no more secure in the country and they are struggling for their survival. The safforanization of Indian society has been replacing Nehruvian concept of secular India gradually. The separate incidents of atrocities against minorities increasing day by day across Indian states particularly led by India’s ruling BJP. 

Since the partition of sub-continent back in 1947, the elite Hindus are enjoying more perks in India. Minorities are still struggling to find space in Modi’s India and to prove their patriotism. While at the same time all communities are enjoying their lives and rights in Pakistan without facing any discrimination. BJP-led states are proactively promoting Hindutva-driven policies across the country to praise their Hindu pundits and make the country Hindu Rashtra (Hindu India) for elite Hindus. BJP’s state governments have been making the lives of non-Hindus miserable. They are introducing the policies which are favorable to only few elite groups. 

The BJP is appointing ultranationalist Hindu as head of state governments. Hindu monk Yogi Aditiyanath’s appointment as CM of Indian largest state Utter Pradesh proved Hindutva ideology and approach of Modi and Hindu nationalist establishment. BJP’s policies shouldn’t surprise us, since after the appointment of a rabid anti-Muslim like Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister of India’s largest state with a large Muslim population, killings of Muslims suspected to have eaten beef have increased. Now, to be a Muslim in UP is like being a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.

Why is this being done? Why aren’t students of other religious schools being asked to prove that they are patriotic Indians? Why are Sikhs, Christians and Buddhists in India not being compelled to videotape how they celebrate Independence Day? Is it because all Indian Muslims are considered to be ISI agents? What makes Narendra Modi think that by forcing Indian Muslims to prove that they are good Indians (while carrying out mass killing of Muslims in Kashmir), his party will get the Muslim vote?

Of course, Indian Muslims have been subjected to persecution ever since 1947, when the shock of seeing India divided made the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its virulent activists even more determined to rid India of Muslims. In fact, as recently as 2002, more than a thousand Muslims were butchered under the supervision of Modi himself. Because he was suspected to be directly responsible for the killings, Modi was denied visa to visit the US for many years, until he became the prime minister.

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Then there is the recent decision of the Maharashtra government to remove all references to India’s Muslim past. They have even removed pictures of Mughal monuments like the Taj Mahal from text books to make impressionable Indian children believe that Muslims made no contribution to the arts, culture and architecture of India. There have even been claims by Hinduvta fanatics that the Taj Mahal was built by Hindus and not by the Mughal king Shah Jahan. It shouldn’t surprise us if one day they decide to demolish the Taj Mahal on the grounds that it has been built over the ruins of a Hindu temple, as they did with the Babri Masjid.

Hindutva inspired Indian repressive policies, targeting minorities across the board, is a stark reminder that Independence Day for Indian minorities is merely a day of change of Masters. Modi and his BJP Hinduvta allies know that they can never have a Hindu rashtra (Hindu state) unless they are able to significantly reduce the population of its Muslim minority (comprising of 14.23% of the population). They will try every means to achieve their goal, even if it means killing as many Muslims as possible (if they are not able to convert them to Hinduism). Modi should ponder what the outgoing Indian vice president said about “a lot of unease, a sense of insecurity creeping in among the minorities in India”. He meant that minorities in India, particularly the Muslims, do not feel safe in India.

“If Indian leaders genuinely care about agony, suffering and pain, they must work to improve the conditions of Muslims and other minorities in India. The last seven decades have been replete with undeniable proof that India’s espousal of secularism was a sham. The fact is that today’s India is an undeclared ‘Hindu Rashtra’ that has no place or tolerance for other religious minorities, especially Muslims who are faced with discrimination, persecution and political and socio-economic exclusion,” he said.

The writer is Islamabad based expert of Indian Affairs

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