Indian extremist Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new anti-Muslim moves such as the continued lockdown in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) after abrogation of the special status of the Jammu and Kashmir by revoking articles 35A and 370 of the Constitution on August 5, 2019, in a malevolent attempt to turn Muslim majority into minority in the Indian occupied Kashmir – IOK, the Indian Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA), passed by the Indian Parliament, encouragement of the ruling party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including other Hindu fundamentalist outfits to target the religious minorities, particularly Muslims and acceleration of assaults on the Muslims have clearly proved that he had led the genocide of the Muslims in 2002.
In fact, the CAA coupled with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is mainly against Muslim immigrants especially from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Besides other religious minorities, it strips 200 million Indian Muslims of their citizenship.
In the recent past, while addressing the Nation and the Indian Parliament about the tensions with minorities in India in passing CAA Prime Minister Modi said: “In India, live like Indian Hindu. Any minority, from anywhere, if they want to live in India, to work and eat in India, They should speak an Indian language like Hindi Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali any South Indian language and should respect the Indian laws. If they prefer Sharia Law and live the life of Muslim’s then we advise them to go to those places where that’s the state law…India does not need Muslim minorities. Such minorities need India, and we will not grant them special privileges, or try to change our laws to fit their desires, no matter how loud they yell “discrimination”. We will not tolerate disrespect of our Vedic Hindu Sanatan culture…The Indian customs and traditions are not compatible with the lack of culture or the primitive ways of Sharia Law and Muslims….When this honorable legislative body thinks of creating new laws, it should have in mind the Indian national interest first, observing that the Muslims Minorities are not Indians.”
Meanwhile, since December 15, 2019, daily mass demonstrations, marches and rallies have been taking place across every state in India, demanding that the CAA be withdrawn along with the NRC. Despite criticism of the rights groups, foreign leaders, the UNO, and moderate Hindus in wake of violent protests which resulted in killing more than 50 persons and injuring 300-mostly Muslims by the police and Hindu fanatics, Modi-led regime has not withdrawn the CAA/NRC.
It is notable that in the Indian general elections of 2019, the BJP won a huge majority in the Lok Sabha, with 21 seats more than it won in the 2014 elections. During the election campaign, the Hindu majority was mobilized on ‘hate Muslim’ slogans and ‘anti-Pakistan’ jargon. Indian Prime Minister Modi’s extremist party BJP had also got a land sliding triumph in the Indian elections 2014 on the basis of anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan slogans.
In the aftermath of the elections 2019, news reports have highlighted different cases in which Dalits and especially Muslims were violently targeted for reasons as varied as allegedly possessing beef, protesting against caste-based discrimination or simply being Muslim.
Particularly, various incidents of arrests, violent assaults, and killings of the Muslims, including the persons of other religious communities by the fanatic Hindus have been recorded. Surprisingly, Indian police are also being used by the Indian rulers in this regard.
In this connection, RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] chief Mohan Bhagwat stated on October 8, 2019: “Bharat is Hindu Rashtra and all Bharatiyas are Hindus.”
These anti-Muslim moves have, unquestionably, exposed that Modi’s extremist approach against the Muslims.
In this regard, more than 2500 Muslims were massacred at the end of February 2002 in the BJP-ruled Indian state of Gujarat. The 2002 Gujarat riots were a three-day period of communal violence in the Indian state of Gujarat by extremist Hindus under the guidance and command of the Indian Prime Minister Narinder Modi who was Chief Minister of Gujarat and mastermind the genocide of the Muslims.
In the BJP-ruled, the Indian state of Gujarat, horrible scenes of arson, mutation, and rape were perpetrated by the Hindu extremists against the unarmed Muslims.
Regarding that massive genocide, both Human Rights Watch in 2002 and Amnesty International in 2003 charged the “Gujarat state administration” for involvement in “a massive cover-up of the state’s role in that massacres” and pointed out numerous police officials—specifically ministers, high officials and leaders of the fundamentalist parties such as RSS, VHP, BJP and Bajrang Dal as participants.
In this respect, Rana Ayub in his book, “Gujarat files- Anatomy of A Cover-up” and Manoj Mitha in his book, “The Fiction of Fact-Finding”, and Sreekumar in his Book “Gujarat behind the Curtain” have proved Modi’s involvement in the genocide of the Muslims in Gujarat.
In this context, in an open letter published in “the Guardian” on April 10, 2014, pointed out that even most well-respected international intellectuals of India held Modi as the main culprit behind the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat.
According to Ashish Nandy, “The Gujarat programs were not just about the number of helpless victims killed (over 3000) and rendered homeless (several hundred thousand). It was about the sheer planning, the brutality, the maniacal genocide that was perpetrated over a population for days on end…Narendra Modi did not only shamelessly preside over the riots and act as the chief patron of rioting gangs, but the vulgarities of his utterances have also been a slur on civilised public life. His justifications of the riots, too, sound uncannily like that of Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian president, and mass murderer…facing trial for his crimes against humanity. I often wonder these days why those active in human rights groups in India and abroad have not yet tried to get international summons issued against Modi for colluding with the murder of hundreds and for attempted ethnic cleansing. If Modi’s behavior till now is not a crime against humanity, what is?”
In this connection, following the Gujarat riots in 2002 and State collusion, a US Commission for international religious freedom (USCIRF) established that the then Gujarat Chief Minister Modi was linked to communal riots in a significant way. It also pointed to Modi’s ministerial colleague Maya Kodnani’s full involvement in the massacre of Muslims. Following its findings, the Commission recommended a US visa ban for Modi.
And the Chairperson of the Commission Katrina Lantos Swett went further to recommend India to be placed in Tier 2 countries on religious freedom. Tier 2 countries are those countries where religious persecution and other violations of religious freedom are either promoted with State connivance or tolerated by the government in charge.
Notably, a report of the British High Commission in India said that the programs in Gujarat in 2002 “had all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing and reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims is impossible, while the Chief Minister Modi remains in power…Far from being spontaneous…this massacre was planned, possibly months in advance, carried out by extremist Hindu organisations with the support of the state government headed by Modi.”
Meanwhile, various investigations failed in showing the real culprits of Hindu terrorism in Gujarat, as they were high officials or police officers of the Indian government. Therefore, the Supreme Court of India had ordered a fresh probe on March 25, 2008, but the same also remains inconclusive due to concealment of evidence against the culprits who are members of the dominating political parties of the country. Since the BJP-led Modi became Indian prime minister, covert interference of his government and those of the fundamentalist parties—BJP and RSS in the investigations of Gujarat riots have kept the case under the carpet.
Despite eye witness testimony, implicating the highest elected political officials, justice continues to evade the victims. In the recent past, 70 accused persons of Gujrat pogrom were set free by the court. On January 28, 2020, the Supreme Court granted bail to 14 convicts of 2002 Gujarat riots. Thus given a clean chit to Modi.
It is noteworthy that the US government had denied a visa to Modi on the basis of his involvement in the Gujarat program, however, after he became Indian prime minister, the stance of the American government changed to his favour. It shows the double standard of America.
It is surprising that theoretically, the Indian Constitution safeguards the rights of minorities, but in practice, the ideology of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) prevails. Hindu majority led by the BJP has shown a complete disregard to it, and commit excesses and cruelties against Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and Dalits with impunity.
Hindu politics and culture, dominated by the extremist parties such as BJP, VHP, Shiv Sena and RSS, including other extremist outfits have been propagating Hindutva.
It is of particular attention that P.M. Narendra Modi, the then Chief Minister of Gujarat who masterminded and led the Muslim massacre has, reportedly, destroyed all the documents related to the 2002 genocide of the Muslims.
Keeping Modi’s past and present record, it can be forecasted easily that minorities in India will face further persecution and barbarity at the hands of Hindu extremists and more incidents of Gujarat-like riots will take place if Modi remains in power.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations