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  • Writer's pictureJeffrey Ram

India's Muslims Feel Insecure, Vulnerable, and Helpless

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

The leaders and supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which holds power nationally and in many states, and its ideological parent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, tell India's Muslims to go to Pakistan but keep Kashmiri Muslims in India by the brutal force of military boots.

Toronto, Canada, August 18, 2020

On India's independence day on 15 August 1947, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, in his famous 'Tryst with Destiny' speech, said, "All of us, to whatever religion we may belong, are equally the children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations. We cannot encourage communalism or narrow-mindedness, for no nation can be great whose people are narrow in thought or action." However, today the situation has changed. The leaders and members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, who opposed Mahatma Gandhi's 'Quit India' movement and supported the British rulers, are considered 'deshbhakt' or patriots, and the freedom fighters, their children, and grandchildren are considered 'traitors.' M.S. Golwalkar, the second Sarsanghchalak (or, "Chief") of RSS from 1940 to 1973, one of the early leaders and the most prominent ideologue of Hindutva, wrote: "The non-Hindu people of Hindustan must either adopt Hindu culture and languages, must learn and respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but of those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture……in a word they must cease to be foreigners, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment.-not even citizens' rights." [ Guha, Ramchandra (2008) India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy. Pan Macmillan, p.19] The RSS and BJP governments are trying to make India a Hindu "Rashtra" or nation. So, India's Muslims have a valid reason to feel insecure, vulnerable, and helpless.

The BJP-RSS leaders launched an undeclared war against India's Muslim minorities since their origin. In 2002, when the current prime minister Modi was the chief minister (premier) of Gujarat, more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were butchered or burnt to death in riots. Modi did not try to stop the riots. After the BJP victory in 2014, the lynching of Muslims and Dalits started on the excuse of beef-eating and cow-trading. Bollywood movies "Firaq" and "Mulk" depict the Muslims' sufferings during the Gujarat riots and beef lynching.

In 2019, the Home Minister Amit Shah referred to Muslims as "termites" at election rallies, and the BJP won the election with a vast majority. The government enacted the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) following the National Registration of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. Four million residents, most of them Muslims, including one million Hindus, were not accepted as citizens in Assam NRC. Therefore, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act amended the Citizenship Act of 1955 by providing a path to Indian citizenship for illegal migrants of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian religious minorities. The Muslims were not included in the CAA. The BJP government announced plans to have a nationwide NRC. India's Citizenship Amendment Act created fear among the Muslims that the RSS-BJP combine might challenge their citizenship.

Concerned about this, on December 14, 2019, 10 to 15 Muslim housewives started a protest at Shaheen Bagh. Many others joined this continuous sit-in protest. Students at many universities and people in many cities across India also started protests. The late Rahat Indori's poem became very popular:

Jo aaj sahib-e-masnad hain, kal naheen honge

Kirayedaar hain, zaati makaan thodi hai

Sabhi ka khoon hai shaamil yahaan ki mitti mein

Kisi ke baap ka Hindustan thodi hai

(Those who sit on the throne today, will not remain tomorrow

They are renters; they do not own this home

The blood of everyone is mixed with the soil here

India is not anyone's father's property.) So, how dare you!

The Shaheen Bagh protesters were attacked on March 23, which grew as an anti-Muslim riot and continued till March 25. The Delhi police, controlled by BJP's national government, did not stop the riot or protect the Muslim victims. Many videos showed that the police at many places joined the rioters and attacked the Muslims. Of the 53 people killed, two-thirds were Muslims. Even though most of the victims were Muslims, most of the 800 people arrested for the riots were also Muslims. However, the BJP leaders who incited violence against Muslims with the slogan "Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro saalon ko" (The traitors of the nation should be shot) were not arrested or charged.

In Uttar Pradesh, videos showed policemen allegedly vandalizing cars and homes in Muslim-populated areas. The BJP governments in the centre and UP wanted to suppress all dissent and all future protests. The national corona lockdown from March 25 was used by the Delhi and Uttar Pradesh police to arrest the Muslim anti-CAA activists and Hindu critics of the BJP government. Even today, many students and activists are still in jail.

On August 5, 2019, the special status, or limited autonomy, granted under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir, was revoked by the Government of India. The whole state was put in lockdown. Even after one year, the Kashmiri Muslims are still living under severe restrictions. The leaders and supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which holds power nationally and in many states, and its ideological parent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, tell India's Muslims to go to Pakistan but keep Kashmiri Muslims in India by the brutal force of military boots.

Of late, anti-Muslim hatred in Indian society has increased, and the Muslims are living in fear of the BJP governments and their supporters. Let us pray for an India where Muslims do not feel insecure, vulnerable, and helpless. Let us also back our prayers with lobbying in the United Nations and other international bodies to intervene and restrain the evil of the targeting and persecution of India's Muslims.

Blessing: May God Bless You, Your Family and Friends, and Make You A Blessing to Others.

Reform Advocate’s World blog appears on the first and third Tuesdays of the month


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