India’s Islamophobia

  1. Mark this year.

In the history of nations seven decades is just a blip. For India it may be a lifetime and 2019 will be the darkest blot, one which may have already changed its destiny for time immortal.

Within seventy two years of its existence, the soul of India seems to have been mutilated, killed and cremated by its own sons and guardians. From the ashes, a new nation rises: Hindu-sthan or Aryavratt- the land of the resurgent, roaring Hindu who had been raring to lay siege to the land right from its birth.

The year has been dark to the core.

Within a span of few months in the second half of 2019, the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) fresh into its second term as the federal government, decided to actively pursue the agenda of its parent body, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Hindu right wing organization. RSS had been formed almost a century back in 1925 with a clear cut agenda of making a Hindu rashtra or nation out of then enslaved India. After India’s independence in 1947 when a secular, sovereign nation emerged, the same was not acceptable to RSS and they vehemently fought the constitution, the national flag and even the leaders who created India’s new secular identity and since then never gave up on their pursuit of a Hindu nation. They had waited long enough and after BJP returned to power with a thumping majority and more importantly, with BJP and their allies controlling both houses of India’s legislative bodies, with the judiciary and administration in firm control and in the hands of their loyal believers, with the control of the entire fourth estate including not just print and visual but with a powerful troll army controlling the social media and spreading fake news, it was time to act. And act they did and how!

In August 2019, within a matter of a few days, the entire state of Kashmir was put on siege, Article 370 and article 35A abolished and a state which was a part of India through a special treaty was fully annexed and taken over and converted into a small union territory. It’s another matter that it was the only Muslim dominated state of the republic and any firm action there would have emboldened the hearts of the Hindu majority in the nation. The powers were withdrawn from the state to elect its own Chief Minister or to have its own legislative assembly and not just the entire political leadership but tens of thousands of its people were imprisoned and put behind bars to crush dissent. Internet services were stopped, a million plus army and para-military forces deployed and the entire operation including the vote in Parliament was carried out as a surgical strike keeping the state’s entire population in dark. The siege continues till date with the internet services blocked as yet in the longest information black-out in modern history and thousands in detention.

Then in November 2019, with the help of a judiciary which had been hand-picked over the years with true believers, a great crime carried out in December 1992 of the demolition of an existing mosque in Ayodhya-Babri Masjid by Hindu radicals in a planned operation, was given legitimacy with the upholding of the verdict that a Ram temple existed there centuries back and hence the site will now be used to build a temple there. The creation of Ram temple was the plank on which BJP had built its political strength from almost a non-entity in 1984 to rising through the ranks in the eighties and nineties and gaining a strong and permanent foothold in the psyche of Hindu followers. Since the time was right now, it was time to act and deliver on an important platform. While a temple will be created and Hindus may rejoice, the perpetuators of its destruction are all let off and in fact celebrated as great leaders and a dark message is sent to the minorities of India.

But the BJP had not had enough for the year as yet. It was time to show their true color to the world with pride. They introduced and with brute majority and support of their allies who fell in line, made a law this month out of a discriminating Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) now Act (CAA). It amended the Citizenship Act of 1955 by providing a path to the Indian citizenship for Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian minorities fleeing persecution from three countries viz, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Muslims were not given such eligibility. The act is the first time religion has been used as a criterion for citizenship under Indian law.

This Act, in one single stroke, destroyed the very fibre of secularism on which the nation was built and goes against the concept of liberty and equality in the entire world. The preamble of Indian constitution, clearly states-

“We the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic and to secure to all its citizens:

Justice, social, economic and political;

Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

Equality of status and of opportunity; ……”

Now the state is taking the first step to declare to its citizens and to the rest of the world that they do not believe in the very constitution that defines its existence and will use faith and religion as a test to define its citizenship or even the status of its citizenship.  Going forward the state will decide as to what religion is acceptable to them and what not. Today they need the support of the Western world which already is suffering from Islamophobia and hence Christians or Zorastrians are accepted and tomorrow they could easily remove them too and accept only the Hindus or what they consider as its offshoot, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains!

Alas the Hindu juggernaut continues. The next step which was loudly announced to be taken was NRC or the National Registry of Citizens. Like the Nazi Germany of last century for whom the RSS has never shied from sharing their adoration, they wish to implement a National registry wherein the citizens will have to prove that they belong to the land and one who cannot prove their citizenship are liable to be deported or like Jews put in detention centers. The concept of NRC was first introduced by India as a new born nation in 1951 to protect its borders. But when the government realized their folly and the fact that the poverty and the illiteracy of its people make it impossible for many to bring forth such documents, it was shelved. However the Hinduatva brigade caught on the idea and knew that they could use it to segregate and divide India and torment its Muslim and Dalit or lower caste minority especially since they are among the poorest and most illiterate of its people.  NRC was used as an election plank to win over the residents of North Eastern states as there were a large number of refugees crossing their borders from Bangladesh and Myanmar which the locals resisted. It brought good electoral results to BJP who won over all those states from almost a zero presence in less than a decade. They finally carried out NRC in Assam, one of the states and now 1.9 million residents including people who have been there for decades and decades have been declared non-citizens. Detention centers are being built at fierce speed and many of these people have been thrown there, living in inhumane life under a corrupt and hateful regime.

BJP declared to start the NRC exercise all over India after getting a ruling in the Parliament. The result could only be imagined with a total division of India and from the way the Hindutava agenda is rolling, use of draconian laws to segregate and torment the minorities.

It is as if India has lost its soul.

Alas it is not the BJP or the RSS or its current crop of leaders who have let the spirit of a secular India down. They have NOT changed course.  Since 1925, the RSS has propagated a philosophy of a Hindu nation and till date they have not deviated even once from their track. It is the people of India who have been brainwashed in the last decade and who have been made to believe in a view that Hindu is in danger and needs to assert which is leading to the Talibinization of a secular nation. India always took pride in being secular and accepting in midst of openly religious nations like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan and now it has well and truly fallen in the same rut.

Fortunately the resistance exists. Perhaps the iron fist has hit a nerve among Indians and the nation is rising. There is outrage and anger among a vast number of Indians who are raising their voice through demonstrations, agitations and strikes. Students and the younger generation have come out on the roads and are protesting. The government is using force, internet blackouts and arbitrary arrests to crush the revolt and yet the resistance is building not just in India but worldwide.

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There have been many demonstrations in various places in North America including on 20th December 2019 in Toronto too in front of the Indian consulate wherein despite sub-zero temperatures, more than five hundred people participated and spoke, sung songs and chanted slogans against the brutal regime.

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We even had a Bollywood celebrity, Ali Fazal who lent his voice to the cause.  Every day there is news of the expression of distress spreading over all the corners of the nation including almost all of its elite institutions and tens have already died in India with hundreds imprisoned for the cause.

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Alas the Prime Minister of the nation still is able to spread hate by finding a specific type of attire among the demonstrators and ignoring the fact that the citizens are speaking out.

It is one last attempt to safeguard the secular fabric of the nation from Hindutava forces. BJP seems to have realized that they have gone too far and already there are mixed signals that they may not implement NRC. At least not as yet! But it is now clear to people that they cannot be trusted and come the right time, they would strike and ensure that NRC is introduced in the nation.

Needless to add all this is being done to divert the attention from the fact that the nation has lost its economic groove. Demonetisation carried out in 2016 was a death blow to the economy of the nation, one from which it has not recovered as yet. While the nation builds statues worth millions of dollars, spends money on a project of a bullet train personally liked by the great leader or decides to continue its splurge on wasteful entities and institutions, its people suffer, go hungry and unemployment is becoming a major problem for a youthful nation. The government finding no answers on this part and no policy to bring improvement has changed the narrative.

What can nations like Canada do? What can we the ordinary world citizens do? What should society do?

It is times like this that define our existence and the importance of our true values. Do we consider all humans as equal or do we believe like the Home Minister of India that some are termites who need to be removed from its soil? Do we consider that the state should segregate people based on their faith, religion, caste, gender, color or sexual preference? Do we accept that the state silence our voice at its own free will and crush dissent with brute force so that the silence of a cemetery can be spread in an entire nation or community?

These are questions you must ponder! Remember today you can be safe because of your religion, caste or color and yet tomorrow you can be in the line of fire and face discrimination if you bow to the wills of the people who divide people with their hateful agenda.

History judges us by what we stood for. Now is the time. I have made my choice and will agitate and fight till the very end. And win with your support! Amen.

Edited version printed in Times of India on 23rd December 2019. Link below-

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/dev-vani/indias-islamophobia/

Edited version printed in New Canadian Media on 23rd December 2019. Link below-

newcanadianmedia.ca/indias-slow-march-to-becoming-a-hindu-nation/

 

 

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