During the holy month of Ramadan, India has witnessed heinous hate campaigns by Hindutva forces targeting Muslim minorities that triggered a spate of communal violence across the country.
What is happening in India is a resemblance of the crimes being committed by the Zionist regime in the Occupied Palestine territories, where demolishing houses of activists who resist Israeli atrocities are a usual scene. The same tactics are being used by the Sangh Parivar – an umbrella group of Hindu organisations led by the militant Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – against Muslims in central and north India.
In the name of anti-encroachment drive, Muslim houses and shops in the capital Delhi's Jahangir puri, which saw communal clashes during Hanuman Jayanti, a Hindu religious festival, have been razed despite the Supreme Court order of a status quo.
Earlier on the eve of Rama Navami, the birth day celebrations of Hindu deity Ram, hard-line outfits allied to Prime Minister Narednra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalists Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have unleashed a series of attacks against Muslims and their business establishments in eight states in the country.
In the western state of Gujarat, the home town of Narendra Modi, one person died in the clashes, while another man was killed in Jharkhand. Besides these two states, frenzied Hindu mobs unleashed violence in four towns in Karnataka, the state which witnessed anti-hijab protests by the Hindu organisations earlier.
Violent incidents were also reported from other states - Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Goa. In many places Hindutva forces were supported by government administration and even the police. Several properties belonging to Muslims including residential houses and mosques in various states were razed to the ground following violence by Hindu zealots.
During the celebrations in Bihar's Muzaffarpur, a man climbed a mosque wall and planted a saffron flag on the minaret. He was cheered on by several men riding bikes, as they wielded swords and hockey sticks.
In some places, especially in the Muslim areas of Khargone and Khabdwa in the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, extremists barged forcefully into Muslim houses, damaged properties, doused homes, shops and Mosques, hurled petrol bombs in the presence of police authorities. When Muslims seek help, the policemen not only refuse to register complaints, but arrest the youth with false charges.
In the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh government demolished homes of Muslims with bulldozers accusing them of ‘throwing stones’.
The hashtag ‘Bulldozer’ is trending on social media sites, especially on Twitter as the BJP governments continue punishing protesting Muslims with iron fists, that started in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh where even a century-old mosque was flattened last May in defiance of court order.
Human Rights Watch stated in its 2021 report that the BJP government’s prejudices have “infiltrated independent institutions, such as the police and the courts, empowering nationalist groups to threaten, harass, and attack religious minorities with impunity.”
The recent anti-Muslim hate campaign by Hindu extremists started in the southern state of Karnataka. In January, when the authorities at a government-run junior college in Udupi, a coastal city in the state, began refusing admission to girls who showed up in hijab, the right-wing Hindutva outfits turned the controversy to a communal angle.
Days before the beginning of Ramadan, Muslim traders in Karnataka were banned from doing business around Hindu temple areas. Hindutva activists from Bajrang Dal and Sri Ram Sena vandalised stalls owned by Muslims in Dharwad town, destroying fresh fruits and vegetables on pushcarts. A video of Hindu extremists destroying the pushcart of an old Muslim vendor, Nabisab Goususab, containg watermelons has gone viral.
Journalist Harish Upadhya has tweeted videos from the ground, showing watermelons lying on the street. He said that police at the site did not stop the miscreants from ransacking Muslim traders. The attack came days after Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, another extremist outfit, urged Hindus to purchase fruits and vegetables from Hindu vendors only to 'help end the monopoly of Muslims in the fruit business'.
After banning Muslims from setting up shops near temples, these organisations called on Hindus not to buy meat from Muslim traders as it is halal and should not be offered to Hindu deities. BJP’s national general secretary C T Ravi endorsed the call which is a clear manifestation that these fringe Hindu groups are receiving full backing of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party.
According to Muslim traders, the Hindutva campaign against halal meat had no impact on the business as Hindu customers come in large numbers as usual to buy meat. But that did not stop the extremists from pulling back from their nefarious agenda as they started a new campaign targeting the azan (the call for prayer from mosques). Sri Ram Sena has demanded the government to remove microphones from mosques which, they said, are causing noise pollution. They threatened to intensify protests if the government failed to act. The campaign includes countering the dawn prayer azan with playing bhajans (devotional Hindu songs) at temples everyday at 5 am.
On April 2, Bajrang Muni Udasin, a Hindu priest in Uttar Pradesh’s Sitapur district, threatened mass rape of Muslim women on the occasion of the Hindu new year. The threat, made in front of a Mosque, met with loud cheers by the crowd. The priest delivered the hate speech in the presence of three policemen who were guarding his vehicle.
India’s ruling BJP is the political arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a right-wing, Hindu militant organisation. It has emerged as the symbol of terror for religious minorities, particularly Muslims, since its formation in 1925 and its leaders have been known admirers of Adolf Hitler and and Benito Mussolini.
The RSS and its extremist allies are involved in several lynchings of Muslims and have attacked their places of worship. The ultimate objective of these outfits is to make India a non-secular Hindu nation with open support from the right-wing government.
The federal government recently informed the parliament that the country has witnessed 3,399 cases of communal or religious rioting during Modi’s rule between 2016-2020. The silence of Modi and his government towards anti-Muslim violence and genocide threats by Hindu terrorist outfits is a clear signal that they want to convert India into a Hindu nation.
The current government is leading the nation to total communal disharmony and unprecedented chaos. After making Hindu-Muslim polarisation effectively, Prime Minister Modi is trying to evoke anti-Muslim sentiments among the Sikh community. His remarks against sixth Mughal emperor Aurnangazeb on Thursday during the 400th birth anniversary of Guru Tegh Bahadur, was an attempt to create a wedge between Muslims and Sikhs.
Modi, who as chief minister of Gujarat state deliberately allowed anti-Muslim riots in 2002 that killed almost 2,000 people, said during his address that “even though Aurangzeb severed many heads, he could not shake our faith,” a clear tactic to fan anti-Muslim sentiments.
P. K. Niaz is a Senior Editor of The Peninsula Newspaper, Doha, Qatar.