THE world is in the grip of coronavirus where lockdowns and social distancing are the new norm. Governments around the world are facing criticism from their people for these strict measures. The deserted streets and shopping centres around the world have an eerie resemblance to a similar situation in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
The Kashmiris have been are suffering the ignominy of restrictions since August 2019 not because of a biological genome, but because a virus of hate, prejudice and intolerance, that has been systematically manufactured in the laboratory of the RSS, the ideological wart head of India’s ruling party, the Bharataya Janata Party.
The occupied valley has been under curfew and lockdown since Aug 5, 2019.
This bloody lockdown is being brutally enforced by 900,000 Indian troops, making the region the most militarised zone in the world. The people are caged within their homes with virtually one soldier standing outside every house, transforming the place into a gigantic prison.
This virus of hate is being spread by the BJP leadership in India targeting minorities especially its 200 million plus Indian Muslims. It misses no opportunity to preach hate and incite violence against Muslims. UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has given repeated statements targeting Muslims. Referring to a women’s peaceful rally against the Citizenship Amendment Act, he declared that they should be fed with ‘bullets than biryani’. In another of his public gatherings, one of his supporters went to the extreme of exhorting his followers to dig out the bodies of dead Muslim women from their graves and rape them. The BJP draws inspiration from Hitler’s Nazism and Mussolini’s fascism. For them, India is only for Hindus, and the Indian Muslims, Christians and Sikhs are human chattel.
India’s celebrated writer, Arundhati Roy says: “the RSS asserts that the Indian Muslims are worse than the Jews of Germany and have no place in India.” The French scholar, Christophe Jafferlot, notes: “Hindu nationalists see themselves as the true sons of soil, and view Muslims and Christians as products of bloody foreign invasions”.
After the BJP won the 2014 election, ‘saffronisation’ of Indian history and cultural practices started with renewed vigour. History textbooks in educational institutions were rewritten to further the Hindu supremacist agenda idolising Hindu icons and effacing references to Muslim contributions during their rule of India. Even the iconic Taj Mahal was not spared. The UP government excluded it from its 2017 Tourism Booklet.
Samanth Subramanian writing in The Guardian has termed it as the most serious crisis in India’s 72 years of existence. He notes that India’s ‘courts, investigative agencies, election commission and much of its media have been pressured to fall in line with Modi’s policies. The nexus between the ultra-nationalist Indian media and BJP, in particular, has reached dangerous proportions.
The sweeping victory in the 2019 election has further energised Modi and his supporters. The Hindutva plan has been put on fast track. The first step was the illegal annexation of the Muslim majority state of Jammu and Kashmir on Aug 5. To impose its will, the Indian government moved an additional 100,000 additional troops to the Kashmir valley, cutting telephone lines and the internet, imposing a curfew, and jailing political leaders. This unprecedented lockdown continues to date.
The next stage of the Hindutva plan was the enactment of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which allowed religious minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to acquire Indian citizenship except Muslims. The bill’s anti-Muslim slant is obvious. It was immediately criticised as anti-constitutional and seen as part of the BJP’s agenda to marginalise Muslims. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Commission has also filed a petition in THE Indian Supreme Court over the exclusionary nature of the bill.
In February this year, for three days Muslim houses, businesses and worship places in north-east New Delhi were burnt and destroyed by frenzied Hindu mobs, dozens of Muslims were killed brutally while police watched silently or facilitated the rioters.
And now when the world is facing an unprecedented health crisis, Modi and his Hindutva supporters have found a new way to vilify Muslims by alleging that they are spreading the coronavirus. The BJP is using Covid-19 against Muslims exactly like the then dreaded disease, typhus, was used by the Nazis against the Jews to ‘stigmatise and ghettoise them’.
The powers who champion democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms must play their role in stopping the excesses against India’s minorities. Otherwise, the saffron politics of hate and confrontation might lead the world to ruination.
Moin ul Haque
Published in Dawn, August 5th, 2020