Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi said that India is the mother of terrorism in South Asia, told world leaders, highlighting the Modi government’s continued cease-fire violations and fuelling insurgency in the country.
India was ruled by a fascist ideology and it should stop supporting across-the-border terrorism, she said exercising Pakistan’s right to reply at the UN.
Not many people would know that the governing party of India—the so-called largest secular democracy of the world—is an offshoot of a right-wing Hindu nationalist organization that sees controversial figures like Hitler and Mussolini as its role models.
The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) is a political wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), whose founders idealized both fascism and Nazism.
Since the time of its foundation, the RSS has always seen India as the land of Hindus, while viewing Christianity and Islam as foreign religions. Other minority faith groups such as Sikhism and Buddhism have always been viewed by the RSS as part of the Hindu fold.
Hindu nationalists use the historical subjugation of India by Muslims as an excuse for violence. Their view is that these conquerors had raped Hindu women and destroyed places of worship. They feel that, since the Partition, Indian Muslims are allied to Pakistan and are possible terrorists and, therefore, the Hindus must take revenge for these past wrongs and reassert their pride.
Many social scientists feel that many of these acts of violence are institutionally supported, particularly by political parties and organizations connected to the Hindu nationalist volunteer organization, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Cultural nationalism has also been given as a reason for instances of violence carried out by Shiv Sena which initially claimed to speak for the people of Maharashtra, but quickly turned their rhetoric to inciting violence against Muslims, uses violence against Muslims as a part of a larger electoral strategy.
On 6 December 1992, members of the Vishva Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal destroyed the 430-year-old Babri Mosque in Ayodhya.
India’s National Investigation Agency is convinced that Swami Aseemanand, a Hindu right-wing leader, was directly involved in the Samjhauta Express blasts that killed 68 people in 2007.
NIA investigators say the Swami held a meeting on February 11, 12 and 13 in 2006 in Gujarat’s Dang district to decide on bomb attacks in different places, including on that train.
The state-run television of secular democratic India constantly shows programs from Hindu mythology glorifying war against non-Hindus. All minorities, including lower-caste Hindus, are discriminated against in recruitment by law-enforcement agencies. Unless measures are taken to eradicate these root causes, the pogroms will continue.
As things stand today, the RSS continues to enjoy impunity under the Modi government. And Modi has acknowledged that he is indebted to the RSS. In some of states ruled by the BJP, officials can also join the RSS drills.
India has been beset by a wave of gruesome lynchings. And at the epicenter of the country’s violent upheaval is the indolent cow. Emboldened by an ascendant Hindu nationalist movement, coupled with a controversial government ban on cattle slaughter, so-called cow-vigilante groups have been carrying out a ruthless form of mob justice, summarily executing those suspected of killing, trading, or consuming beef. India’s embattled minorities, particularly Muslims, have borne the brunt of the violence, confirming the worst suspicions about what Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his brand of Hindu chauvinism would unleash on the country.
Muslims came to India, just as the ancestors of higher caste Hindus, or Aryans, did and made it their home. Over the centuries, millions of others were attracted to the casteless religion of Islam. Under Muslim rule the hundreds of kingdoms of the subcontinent were first united as one nation.
They brought glory to the country and greatly contributed to Indian civilization. After centuries of Muslim rule, India still had a majority of Hindus, testimony to Muslim tolerance. With the advent of Western imperialism, Muslims suffered most in fighting the colonialism of the English. But now, in their own country, they do not even have the right to live.
The Punjab region has been the traditional homeland for the Sikhs. Before its conquest by the British it had been ruled by the Sikhs for 82 years; the Sikh Misls ruled over the entire Punjab from 1767 to 1799, until their confederacy was unified into the Sikh Empire by Maharajah Ranjit Singh.
However, the region also has a substantial number of Hindus and Muslims, and before 1947, the Sikhs formed the largest religious group only in the Ludhiana district of the British province.
In the 1970s, Sikhs in Punjab had sought autonomy and complained about domination by the Hindu.
Indira Gandhi government arrested thousands of Sikhs for their opposition and demands particularly during Indian Emergency. In Indira Gandhi’s attempt to “save democracy” through the Emergency, India’s constitution was suspended, 140,000 people were arrested without due process, of which 40,000 were Sikhs.
The Darbar Sahib, popularly known as the Golden Temple, is the holiest of Sikh temples, was turned into a battle field when Indian government carried out the most lethal operation Blue Star, against Sikh activist of Khalistan. For nearly five days, the Indian Army used heavy artillery, tanks and helicopters to remove Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who was demanding the establishment of Khalistan – a Sikh homeland – from inside the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
The Khalistan movement reached its zenith in the 1970s and 1980s, flourishing in the Indian state of Punjab, which has a Sikh-majority population and has been the traditional homeland of the Sikh religion. Independent organizations estimate that at least 3,000 people were killed in the course of the operation.
In 2007, foreign Christian missionaries became targets of attacks. An Australian missionary was burnt to death while he was sleeping in his station wagon at Manoharpur village in Keonjhar district in Orissa in January 1999. In 2003, Dara Singh was convicted of leading the gang responsible.
In its annual human rights reports for 1999, the United States Department of State criticized India for “increasing societal violence against Christians.” The report listed over 90 incidents of anti-Christian violence, ranging from damage of religious property to violence against Christian pilgrims.
The world needs to wake up and see which way India is heading to before considering extending free trade and business with it. India under the BJP government is not immune to becoming an outright fascist state despite its glorious history of pluralism and diversity. In fact, it may only be a matter of time until the Modi government amends the constitution to turn the country into a Hindu state.
It would be in the interests of both India and the BJP to bring the minorities into the fold by allowing them to maintain their distinct identities rather than following soft or hard Hindutva.
The challenge for India will be to establish a process that addresses the concerns of minority groups. Doing so will lead to much needed stability at home and an improved image abroad.