By: Aqeel Malik
The claimed secular ideology draws mileage from Hindutva and is persuaded through Chanakya’s laid statecrafts; a unique contrast indeed. Chanakya, praised for his political wisdom and knowledge of human nature, is largely condemned for his ruthlessness and trickery. All Indian governments irrespective of their political affiliations had been coercing the similar methodologies under the garb of secularism. Yet Modi-led BJP stays indifferent in its continued rule due to persistent tenacity to implement RSS’ ethno nationalist Hindutva ideology.
BJP’s extreme hatred for Muslims is hinged with the incursions of Turk and Afghan Muslim rulers of 10th century and beyond. The obsession keeps BJP captive to the past as it continuously endeavours to scratch 650 years of Muslim rule in India; an era that shaped the subcontinent into a single political entity and laid the foundation for ideology of Pakistan. India, since then, remains in a state of paranoia. Following his party’s victory in the 2019 elections, he revoke Article 370, on August 5, 2019, that enshrined special status to Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Dozens have been killed and thousands arrested since then. Hundreds of politicians including top Kashmiri leadership and two ex-chief ministers were detained in severe imprisonments and house arrests. Complete communication blackout and unprecedented lockdown has turned the occupied valley into a prison. The illegal unilateral action by New Delhi, disrespecting UN resolutions, has put peace of the entire region at risk.
BJP in December 2019 also introduced the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that targets Muslims on the basis of religion. BJP claims Article 370 and CAA are connected with India’s unity and integrity, whereas, columnist Tavleen Singh describes the Act as India’s first Nuremberg Law. The act triggered widespread protests across India due to multiple reasons, resulting in thousands of arrests and dozens of deaths. Public lynching of Muslims emerged as an RSS trend before the country was locked down in wake of the pandemic.
Not only that Muslims were blamed for spread of coronavirus but they were also arrested in large numbers during the lockdowns. The US Commission for International Religious Freedom noted with concern that the Indian government is arresting Muslims during the Covid-19 crisis. A US-based academic Khaled Beydoun, specified Islamophobia in India as “state sponsored”. Referring to Delhi communal riots in February 2020, he held PM Modi responsible for the spread of this ‘pandemic violence’. Saudi scholar Abidi Zahrani proposed sending back all ‘militant Hindus’ working in the Gulf engaged in spreading hate against Muslims.
Growing Islamophobia is undoing years of New Delhi’s diplomatic gains in the Middle East. The pandemic has opened fault lines that may significantly change Indian ties with Gulf countries. After Indian social media stormed with the trend of blaming Muslims for spread of coronavirus, tweets on social media and reports on mainstream Print and Electronic media awash with harsh and angry exchanges between India’s Hindu nationalists and some sections of the Gulf’s elite– royal family members compelled UAE and Saudi figures to publicly condemn India’s anti-Muslim policies. Tehran also has started distancing itself with India due to the way India is bowing to the US. It also loses interest in Chabahar. Protests in Kabul against Citizenship Amendment Act and Delhi riots were also watched with interest by the spectators.
India constantly remains horn locked with its neighbors under PM Modi. It is directly engaged on territorial disputes with three of its neighbors at the moment. China-India skirmishes as part of military standoff at eastern Ladakh, along the LAC over the development of Indian infrastructure in disputed territory, continue since 5th May 2020. The cartographic war between India and Nepal on New Delhi’s attempt to incorporate disputed Kalapani region into Indian Territory in May, 2020 further exposes its expansionist designs. India’s Cease Fire Violations across LoC in AJK, targeting innocent civil population has become a routine affair, for furtherance of Hindutva.
In 2019 as many as 59 civilians, including women and children, were martyred and another 281 suffered injuries in different areas along the restive LoC in AJK as a result of ceasefire violations by Indian troops. During 2020 up to 1st week of June only 1,229 ceasefire violations have taken place where seven civilians were martyred and more than 90 have been injured. The phenomenon also facilitates India to divert attention of its population from soaring internal issues.
India’s military machine too, was optimally exposed during PM Modi’s regime. The claim of two front wars against China and Pakistan by Indian Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat was stripped in totality both by Pakistan and China on two different occasions at least. Pakistan’s befitting response of shooting down two Indian warplanes and capturing the pilot as prisoner on Quad-Pro-Quo basis in broad daylight, reciprocating India’s misadventure at Balakot, on 27th February 2019; proved trailer of a real horror film. Killing of 20 Indian soldiers including a Colonel by People’s Liberation Army China after provocation and attack by Indian army in a violent face-off on 16 Jun 2020, at Galwan is a promo of another horror film awaiting release. The Telegraph reported that China has also annexed 60 square kilometers of Indian Territory. Nepal’s response to Indian attempt for incorporation of disputed Kalapani region into Indian Territory was even more embarrassing. PM Modi’s claimed 52 inches chest seemingly is squeezing to the size as can Indian occupied territories be, if rhetoric of RSS ethno nationalist Hindutva continues.
Echoes of hate speech and Islamophobia now haunt Indians across the globe. India needs to rejuvenate its domestic as well as foreign policies before it gets too late. Mahatma Gandhi’s “Hind Swaraj” or Narendra Modi’s “Hindutva”, choice must be clear.
The writer is Social and Behavioral Sciences Analyst