Is India’s secularity under threat?
Right-wing BJP came to power in India again in 2019, on the promises of “sab ka sath, sab ka vishwas.”
But, on the other side, it also raised the rhetoric of patriotism and hyper-nationalism over the Pulwama blast in Kashmir and Balakot strikes, which later proved to be mere eyewash to hide its failures in the first tenure. From calling immigrants in Bengal “termites” deemed to be killed and to save the honour of “Bharat Mata,” BJP played all the tricks to topple the opposition’s plans, and got into power with thumping majority.
BJP played its cards well and used every opportunity to demean Congress and the left. From demonetization to the Balakot strikes, it didn’t lose any opportunity to score political points.
It even appeased some Muslim scholars and academics to get the Muslim vote. The catchy slogan “sab ka sath, ka vishwas” made everyone believe that, this time, “acchhe din” will surely arrive. But the truth appears far from rosy, as the common people have yet to see any “acchhe din.”
Muslims of India have been at the receiving end of this -- as they are being abused, thrashed, and lynched on a daily basis.
The first lynching that happened after BJP’s landslide victory was of Tabrez Ansari in Jharkhand. The mob encircled him and forced him to chant “Jai Shri Ram”while beating him with sticks.
Instead of arresting the attackers, police arrested Tabrez. He was taken to hospital four days later but was pronounced dead on arrival. Tabrez’s family has alleged that the police had denied him medical aid.
In yet another incident, a Muslim man, namely Sanaullah Sheikh, was assaulted in West Bengal on charges of theft. Charging victims in false cases seems to be a running phenomenon in India. Then, after some days, over 20 people were forced to chant “Gau Mata Ki Jai” in Madhya Pradesh, before being beaten ruthlessly. And this cycle of intimidation and lynching is continuing without pause.
Hate crimes, particularly lynching over some petty issues, have increased over the last five years and have gained pace with the re-election of BJP to power again in 2019.
There is nobody willing to stop these crimes. The Indian government has given free rein to bigots and the police to intimidate their minority communities. And this behavior is only further encouraged by the bigots that are currently running the country.
India has lost its democratic and secular ethos to Hindutva, but this hatred is being carried out in isolation. That is because these fringe groups have complete government backing. The police stand by their side when they commit a crime and the Indian judiciary has been reduced to a laughing-stock.
The message from the ruling elites is clear: To instill fear among the minorities and push them to the wall. With that, India’s Muslims are being marginalized with each passing day.
With threats, intimidation, and the fear of lynching, there is an atmosphere of terror engulfing India and its minorities.
World powers and the United Nations have criticized the Indian government over the crimes against its minorities, but India has denied the crimes being carried out on its own land.
The pressing concern now is how to stop all this bigotry and hatred which is making the lives of Muslims and other minorities in India a living hell. What is needed, at least at a political level, is for their politicians to unite against this frenzy.
Ashraf Lone is a student of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.