The Platform

Hindu extremist in Kolkata, India.

Hate speech, lynchings, mob violence, and discrimination. Welcome to India under the Bharatiya Janata Party and Narenda Modi.

India has over 700 ethnic groups and 6 primary religions and the country’s constitution affirms that India is a secular country, not a Hindu, Christian, or Muslim one. Despite this diversity, the Hindu majority has made life for everyone else very uncomfortable. Minorities such as Dalits, Muslims, and Christians face discrimination in employment, education, and access to basic services. This has led to a lack of economic and social opportunities for these communities, contributing to poverty and marginalization.

Another major issue is the rise of communal violence and religious hatred. In recent years, there has been a surge in violence and religious clashes particularly targeting minorities. This has led to widespread fear and insecurity among these communities and has caused significant harm to their homes, businesses, and places of worship.

The treatment of Muslims has been a matter of concern in recent years, with reports of discrimination, hate crimes, and violence against this community. There are several reasons why this is the case, including the rise of extremism and the spread of communal hatred.

One reason is the rise of Hindu nationalism, which has led to a toxic political environment where religious and ethnic minorities are seen as a threat to the dominant Hindu majority. This has resulted in the spread of anti-Muslim sentiment and the proliferation of hate speech and violence against Muslims.

Another factor is the spread of misinformation and propaganda, which often reinforces negative stereotypes about Muslims and portrays them as a threat to national security and the Hindu way of life. This has contributed to a hostile and dangerous environment for Muslims and has led to widespread fear and insecurity.

Extremism is also a major factor contributing to the mistreatment of Muslims. The presence of extremist groups who promote hate and violence against religious and ethnic minorities has created an environment of fear and insecurity for these communities. These groups often use hate speech, propaganda, and violence to spread their message, further exacerbating tensions and leading to an increase in hate crimes and violence against Muslims.

Right-wing extremist organizations like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are promoting fascist and authoritarian tendencies through their policies and actions. Indian democracy is eroding over time as a result of widespread public misunderstanding and the suppression of debate over Hindutva’s fascist roots. The Bharatiya Janata Party, India’s governing party, has never been able to distance itself from debates over the rights of minorities, particularly Muslims.

While Hindutva organizations have mostly targeted Muslims, they are regrettably not the only ones. Because of pro-Hindu propaganda, Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs are left at the mercy of an authoritarian government to protect their fundamental rights. With the dubious assistance of Hindutva organizations, Narendra Modi’s government has consistently repressed the proponents of Khalistan in India.

Some BJP leaders have made controversial remarks and statements that suggest a preference for Hindu culture and traditions over other religious traditions. Even the media is frequently censored while Article 19 of India’s constitution, which deals with freedom of speech, is ignored. Following the horrific anti-Muslim riots that took place in New Delhi in February 2020, when Muslims protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) were terrorized by Hindu gangs, the government suspended a television channel and another for 48 hours following the riots.

After the BBC ran stories that painted the BJP government and Modi in a negative light, the government raided their offices. The Guardian reports: “BBC offices in India have been raided by tax department officials, just weeks after the release of a documentary critical of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, which was later blocked by the government. According to those working at the broadcaster, more than a dozen officials from the country’s income tax department turned up at the BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai, where hundreds of employees are based, to conduct a ‘survey.’ Documents and phones of several journalists were taken and the offices sealed.”

The BJP is actively cracking down on free speech and dissent, particularly on social media. There have been cases of journalists being arrested or harassed for reporting critical stories, and there have been efforts to control the narrative in mainstream media.

The BJP is implementing policies that target Muslims, such as the controversial CAA, which fast-tracks citizenship for non-Muslim immigrants from neighboring countries. The party has also been accused of being complicit in anti-Muslim violence, particularly in the state of Gujarat in 2002. The BJP primarily seeks to control institutions such as the judiciary, media, and educational institutions to further its political agenda. This has led to concerns about the erosion of democratic norms and the independence of these institutions.

Instances of mob violence and lynching have been carried out by individuals associated with or influenced by these organizations. For example, in September 2015, Mohammad Akhlaq, a Muslim man, was lynched by a mob in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, over allegations of slaughtering a cow. Some of the accused individuals were associated with local RSS-affiliated organizations. Moreover, in June 2017, six men were lynched in 2016 in Jharkhand on suspicions of being child kidnappers. Some of the individuals were reportedly associated with the BJP or its youth wing.

In July 2018, Rakbar Khan, a Muslim man, was lynched by a mob in Alwar, Rajasthan, over allegations of cow smuggling. Some of the accused were reportedly associated with a local cow protection group with links to the BJP. In December 2018, a police officer and a civilian were killed in violent clashes in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh, after a mob attacked a police team over allegations of cow slaughter. Some of the accused individuals were reportedly associated with the BJP.

The mistreatment of Muslims is a complex issue with multiple contributing factors, including the rise of extremism and Hindu nationalism, the spread of misinformation and propaganda, and the presence of extremist groups. It is essential that the government takes action to address these issues, promote religious tolerance, and protect the rights of all its citizens, regardless of their religion or ethnicity.

Awais Abbasi is an independent researcher and holds a graduate degree in Political Science from the University of Bristol. He is currently​ serving as visiting fellow at the University of South Asia.