India is no longer a secular state. Persecution, harassment and marginalisation of religious minorities is the norm in today's India, that is led by Prime minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist government.
The Modi government's policy is to scapegoat religious minorities in order to divert the attention of the masses and mainstream media away from the burning issues including corruption, mounting poverty and unemployment levels. Muslims have been the persistent targets of the radical Hindu regime, and are still facing new forms of persecution.
But, what is the ideological motivation behind the anti-Muslim policy of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)?
The BJP is actually the political arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Founded in 1925, the RSS is a right-wing, Hindu nationalist and militant organisation. It has emerged as the symbol of terror for religious minorities, particularly Muslims.
RSS mobs has been behind several lynchings of Muslims and have attacked their places of worship. The ultimate objective of the RSS is to make India a Hindu-only nation. Its leaders have been known admirers of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
Ironically, the so-called secular India, is actually ruled by the RSS like a fascist organisation.
Modi’s introduction of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in 2019 are initiatives he has used to render Muslims second-class citizens in India.
Since BJP politics revolve around Hindu supremacy, the party pushes for the glorification of Hindu culture and nationalism. Religious minorities, for example, are forced to chant Hindu supremacist slogans.
In 1992, the BJP leaders made inflammatory speeches against the Muslims, inciting Hindus to demolish the historic Babri mosque in Ayodhya, in order to build the Ram mandir (temple) in its place. A frenzied crowd of thousands of Hindu extremists stormed the mosque and demolished it within a few hours. The crowd also attacked the Muslims in the region, dozens were killed and their properties were set on fire.
From the outset, Modi has been pursuing the anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan agenda in order to garner support from Hindu nationalists. As chief minister of Gujarat state, Modi was allegedly involved in the 2002 massacre of 2000 Muslims by Hindu extremists in Ahmedabad city. The anti-Muslim riots broke out just days after Modi declared that Pakistan had allegedly played a part in the Godhra railway station incident that involved a train coach carrying Hindu pilgrims catching fire and killing 58 people.
Muslims continue to be labelled as Pakistan's agents and then harassed and tortured under the Modi administration. Every Muslim is treated as a suspect by India's security and intelligence agencies.
The hijab is the latest harassment tool being used by the radical Hindu regime against Muslims. India's Karnataka state, which is governed by the BJP, has imposed a ban on the hijab in government-run schools and educational institutions.
The video clip showing harassment by a RSS mob of Muskan Khan, a hijab-clad college student went viral on social media. The video exposed the real face of the Hindu nationalist state. It also showed the bravery of Khan who was surrounded by an RSS mob that was shouting and jeering at her. She shouted back “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) in retaliation and continued to walk towards the college building to attend class. While the bravery of Khan was glorified across the world, these practices continue still.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a group of 57 Muslim countries led by Saudi Arabia, has lambasted the Indian government over the growing trend of Islamophobia and persecution of its largest minority. The bloc expressed deep concern over public calls for genocide of Muslims, the harassment of Muslim women on social media and a ban on the hijab for Muslim students.
The OIC also called on the UN to take measures for the safety and security of Muslims in India.
The Indian government rejected the OIC's criticism and accused the organisation of having a communal mindset. Without naming its arch rival Pakistan, India accused the group of spreading nefarious propaganda.
In reality, the Modi government is itself the biggest threat to India's secular democracy. The landmark victory of Modi in the 2014 and 2019 elections shows that secularism is rapidly losing its hold in multicultural and multi-ethnic India. If the Hindu nationalist government is elected for a third term in the next general elections, it could prove to be the last nail in the coffin of India's secularism.
It is the courage of Muskan Khan and all those inspired to resist Modi’s persecution, that can carry minorities in India through this worrying chapter in history.
Syed Fazl-e-Haider is a contributing analyst at the South Asia desk of Wikistrat. He is a freelance columnist and the author of several books including 'Economic Development of Balochistan'.
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