THERE is little doubt that India’s minorities — particularly its Muslims — have had a tough time under Narendra Modi’s watch. The right-wing leader has seemingly given carte blanche to Hindutva zealots to make the lives of India’s Muslim citizens miserable. The state has played a key role in passing discriminatory laws, while it has failed to act when the goons of the Sangh Parivar hounded and killed Muslims.

Recently, the perils Muslim women face in Prime Minister Modi’s India were highlighted when a fake online ‘auction’ claimed to ‘sell’ these women by posting their pictures online, while using a derogatory term for them. Charges have been filed, but the perpetrators of this despicable act have yet to be traced, and are widely believed to be Hindutva trolls. Among the victims are pilots, journalists and researchers, solely targeted for being Muslim women.

Of course, women in general face much abuse online globally. In this case, misogyny and Islamophobia have come together in a toxic mix, making cyberspace a more dangerous place for women. As one targeted journalist commented, “Muslim men are lynched, Muslim women are harassed and sold online. When will this end?”

Read: Indian Muslim women and the fear factor

The Indian government — if it still claims to adhere to secularism — must take to task those behind this sick stunt. The threat of online abuse translating into real-world harassment and violence cannot be ignored, hence action must be taken. More generally, online platforms must do more to make sure they are not being used to spread hateful, misogynistic and anti-Muslim content.

However, it is a sad fact that in India, cabinet members as well as chief ministers have issued deplorable anti-Muslim statements, and have not even received a slap on the wrist from Mr Modi for their hateful rhetoric. When such behaviour emanates from the top, naturally the ideological foot soldiers of the Sangh will take it as their cue to declare open season on India’s Muslims. We can only reiterate the words of the journalist quoted above: when will it end?

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2021

Opinion

In defamation’s name

In defamation’s name

It provides yet more proof that the undergirding logic of public authority in Pakistan is legal and extra-legal coercion rather than legitimised consent.

Editorial

Mercury rising
Updated 27 May, 2024

Mercury rising

Each of the country's leaders is equally responsible for the deep pit Pakistan seems to have fallen into.
Antibiotic overuse
27 May, 2024

Antibiotic overuse

ANTIMICROBIAL resistance is an escalating crisis claiming some 700,000 lives annually in Pakistan. It is the third...
World Cup team
27 May, 2024

World Cup team

PAKISTAN waited until the very end to name their T20 World Cup squad. Even then, there was last-minute drama. Four...
ICJ rebuke
Updated 26 May, 2024

ICJ rebuke

The reason for Israel’s criminal behaviour is that it is protected by its powerful Western friends.
Hot spells
26 May, 2024

Hot spells

WITH Pakistan already dealing with a heatwave that has affected 26 districts since May 21, word from the climate...
Defiant stance
26 May, 2024

Defiant stance

AT a time when the country is in talks with the IMF for a medium-term loan crucial to bolstering the fragile ...