IAMC report sheds light on what it takes to be a minority in India

The idea that Hindutva and right-wing forces are invincible can be detrimental to the society which will become beyond repair if not controlled on time.

A report published by Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) on April 13, outlines the struggles and turmoils of being a minority in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led India.

“In 2014, India voted for the “Modi wave.” Little did we know that this “wave” contained Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) ideology that sought to turn India into a purely Hindu Rashtra (Hindi Nation). Its supremacy can be seen at every level – executive, judiciary and legislative,” read the report.

Picture from Twitter

As a result, Indian minorities (mainly Muslims and Christians) are bearing the brunt of Hindu Rajya. Ever since BJP was voted to power, incidents of lynching, polarization, hate speeches, call for Muslim genocides and harassment has become a daily affair. Neither the Prime Minister nor his party members or the local police and the judiciary have raised objection to these gruesome calls of violence. Their silence has given wings to escalated crimes against the minorities making it an everyday affair.

MS Education Academy

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) have released a report on the systematic calls for violence against the minority community in India. The reports talks about how Muslims as well as Christians are being targeted at every instance, whether it is food, clothes, trade or just existing.

Rising Islamophobia and Genocidal Bragging

On March 11, 2022, Kashmir Files was released. The movie, directed by Vivek Agnihotri, a devout PM supporter, was based on the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits that took place between the late 80s and early 90s. The film claimed to be a ‘true story’ showing how Kashmiri Pandits were massacred by the Muslims.

The film particularly depicts the Nadimarg massacre where 24 Kashmiri Pandits were shot dead. However the facts that the movie provides are false. As per the IAMC report, the film states that 4,000 Kashmiri Pandits were killed while five lakh displaced, while official reports put the number of those killed at 399-650 and those displaced at 160,000-170,000.

Poster of Kashmir Files (Picture: Twitter)

The films insinuated anti-Muslim hate speeches and calls for genocide. It represented Kashmiri Muslims as ‘murderous’ and failed to show how 50,000 Kashmiris were also killed and many displaced.

The film’s biggest supporter was our very own Prime Minister who asked every Indian to watch it. The film was made tax free, government employees were given half day to view the film. “Vilification of Muslims’ was witnessed in full flow as people started shouting slogans such as “When mulle [slur for Muslim] will be cut into pieces they will shout Ram, Ram [Hindu deity]” was heard in theatres. Modi remained silent. No word of condemnation came from him or his party.

Election campaigns have been a breeding ground for genocidal slogans. In the 2022 Assembly elections conducted in five states – Goa, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Punjab Uttarakhand – BJP leaders were at their best in spreading polarized views. Political speeches spewed with “Muslims are our Enemy No 1” was spread like wildfire.

The report mentions a video that surfaced of BJP candidate Raghvendra Pratap Singh leading a rally of hundreds in Dumariyaganj, Uttar Pradesh, where anti-Muslim genocidal slogans were raised. The crowd chanted. “When Muslims will be killed, they will shout Ram’s name!” No police action was taken. In addition to this, the judiciary downplayed the criminality.

BJP leader Raghavendra Pratap (Picture from Twitter)

The Delhi High Court, chaired by Justice Chandra Dhari Singh ruled that “Time is different from one given during ordinary times and sometimes things are said just to create a ‘mahaul’ (atmosphere) without there being the intention of wrongdoing or criminality. If something is said with a smile, then there is no criminality but if something is said offensively, then there is criminality.”

A polarized Judiciary

In December last year, six hijab wearing Muslim girls in Udupi were not allowed to attend schools because of their religious attire. This decision was taken by the Karnataka State Education Ministry and slowly spread to other parts of Karnataka.

When the girls challenged this decision in the court, they were met with dismay as the Karnataka High Court ruled out hijab as “not an essential religious practice in Islamic faith”. The court asserted that the ban was a “reasonable restriction, constitutionally permissible and which the students cannot object to.”

The Karnataka High Court vs the six hijabi Muslim girls (Picture from Twitter)

According to the IAMC report, the High Court’s decision carries serious consequences. The report stated that, “During court deliberations, 250 Hijab-wearing students stopped coming to school due to the ban, and after the court upheld the ban, it is expected that many more will not attend school.”

Not just students but teachers were also affected. “One teacher in a Karnataka government school was asked to remove her hijab while teaching, resulting in her resignation. Another Hijabi woman resigned from her position as the principal of VIVA College of Law in Maharashtra after experiencing harassment for wearing the hijab.” the report stated.

Soon after the Hijab ban, Islamophobia started spreading through trade. “In Karnataka, after being under pressure from the BJP, the Bajrang Dal, and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), organizers of the Kote Marikamba Jatra festival banned Muslim shopkeepers and vendors from doing business during the festival. The Karnataka government eventually made a ruling that non-Hindus cannot do business around annual temple festivals,” said the report. Similarly, a call for boycotting halal meet during Ugadi festival led to violence and harassment.

Violence against Muslims

Ever since the BJP came into power, there have been numerous instances where Muslims have been targeted by right-wing Hindu nationalists. Reports of lynching to death, beaten by sticks and swords, using slur names against them and their families have accelerated.

The report mentions many incidents which took place in March 2022 alone. “In Uttar Pradesh’s Kaushambi district, an unidentified mob lynched a Muslim man. In Assam, a man was attacked by a mob with machetes and sticks before being set on fire for allegedly killing a minor. In Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur, a man was allegedly assaulted and had a trishul carved into his forehead with acid during Holi celebrations,” these are the some of the many incidents that the report mentions.

Hate crime against Muslims on a rise since 2014 (Picture from Twitter)

During Ramzan, many mosque came under attack by the right wing goons. Many Muslim shrines were defaced by painting saffron. The local police remained a mute spectator. The report mentions one such incident where the tomb of the mosque was painted saffron.

“In Madhya Pradesh’s Narmadapuram district, a Muslim shrine was defaced by Hindu nationalists. The doors of the shrine were torn off and dumped in the river and the entryway and tomb were painted saffron. The police only took action on the case after locals protested and blocked a nearby highway,” said the report.

Violence against Christians

Muslims are not the only ones facing the ire of the Hindutva goons. The Hindu-nationalist group have been targeting the Christian population for a very long time. The report states many incidents where Hindutva goons have alleged Christians to “forcefully” converting Hindus. The report says, “In Vyaspur village in Uttar Pradesh, a group of Hindu nationalists broke into a pastor’s house and choked and beat him with wooden sticks before slitting his wife’s throat. The pastor survived the attack and reported the crime to Shahupuri police, but they refused to register his complaint and released the two assailants they had in custody.”

Christians are also facing social boycott. In early April, two Christian families in Chhattisgarh were not allowed to shop, fetch drinking water or seek employment. “This resulted in other Christian families who stopped attending prayer meetings and the number of Christians shrank from 40 to 12,” the report mentioned.

Jammu and Kashmir

The report mentions the clampdown of journalists and human rights defenders by Indian military forces. These journalists and activists are slapped with the draconian laws, like sedition, Public Safety Act (PSA) and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), which allow authorities to detain those critical of the Modi government and the Indian administration of the region.

They are harassed and intimidated through raids where their laptops, containing important work, are seized.

A Rohingya Muslim woman with her child (Picture from Twitter)

The report mentions Rohingya Muslims who are been arrested, detained and deported back to Myanmar, the country where mass genocide of Muslims takes place. One Rohingya explains, “235 refugees have been detained by the government since last year. This includes women and men. They are innocent and have had no criminal record. They have children back in Jammu who have been left without support…Following that, more were arrested. They did not do any crime at all.”

With all these incidents happening in a span of one month, there has been no condemnation by our Prime Minister. His silence is giving more encouragement to right-wing organizations. The idea that they are invincible can be detrimental to the society which will become beyond repair if not controlled on time.

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