For the last seven and a half decades, India had been pulling the wool over the eyes of international opinion builders, reveling in the shadow of internationally acknowledged Indian pacifists like Mahatma Gandhi, Abul Kalam Azad, Rabindranath Tagore et al, and presenting itself as a champion of secularism.
The Nehruvian dynasty of Indira Gandhi, and the Indian National Congress, following in the footsteps of Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, continued the façade of presenting India as a fusion of different cultures, religions and customs. India calls itself the biggest democracy in the world and a champion of human rights activists combating injustice.
Oppressed Kashmiris, tyrannized Dalits, Muslims and disparaged Sikhs have tried to raise their voice, which have fallen on deaf ears. Successive Indian governments, with the help of a very imaginative film and TV industry, have painted a picture of fascination, glamour and tolerance.
The stage-managed drama worked well because India is a large market and a trading partner even to the opulent Muslim states, who looked the other way when tales of woe and maltreatment of Indian Muslims were highlighted.
Narendra Modi and his fanatical Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014 with an agenda of establishing Hindu supremacy. In 2019, Modi was re-elected with an even greater majority because apparently his policies of hate and odium were appealing to the Hindu extremists who voted him back to power with a bang.
The Pulwama false flag episode in February 2019, the failed surgical strike on fictitious terror training camps, the swift retaliation by Pakistan Air Force, which saw the destruction of two Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter aircraft, the captured IAF pilot, all were turned around with lies and deceit of false claims of victory by Modi, endearing him to gullible Hindu fanatics.
Emboldened by his successes, Modi and his BJP now put in place their detestable programme of subjugating Muslims, Sikhs and other minorities through various repressive laws. The August 5, 2019 revocation of Article 370 and 35A of Indian Constitution pertaining to Kashmir and annexing Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh in the Indian Union was a heinous crime against humanity repudiating UN Resolutions on Kashmir recognizing it as a disputed territory.
If that were not enough, The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of 2019 to deprive Muslim immigrants from Citizenship rights was enforced. To add salt to injury, another draconian law, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), was slapped to keep Muslims out of the fold of Indian citizenship.
The method in the madness of targeting Muslims was justified by claiming that Muslims had come to India as conquerors and marauders and had subjugated the Hindus centuries ago; thus, it was payback time.
Going through a series of anti-Muslim acts — banning the use of Hijab; prohibiting the use of loudspeakers for Adhan (call for prayer); changing the names of roads, towns and localities associated with Muslims to Hindu ones; construction of a Hindu temple at the site of a demolished mosque in Ayodhya; threatening to impose a Uniform Civil Code applicable to all religious communities (currently, the personal laws of different religious communities are governed by their respective scriptures) — ultimately BJP crossed the red line of attempting to vilify Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
This was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. In a state of euphoria caused by the apparent success of its actions subduing Indian Muslims, BJP’s national spokesperson, Nupur Sharma, took a swipe at Islam’s most revered personality – respected by other religions too – on one of India’s most popular TV channel Times Now.
If that were not enough, BJP’s media head located in New Delhi, Naveen Kumar Jindal, had the temerity to tweet another offensive comment.
This time the BJP had bitten off more than it could chew.
Its gross miscalculation was the assumption that it was targeting only Indian Muslims. The reaction from the Muslim Ummah was angry and swift. In this age of social media and information technology,
Muslim nations, most of them Indian allies, took serious notice and demanded severe disciplinary action by Narendra Modi against the BJP stalwarts guilty of the reprehensible act.
Governments, which were quick in issuing strongly worded condemnations include Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Libya, Turkey, Maldives, Iraq, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Pakistan and Malaysia. Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) were not far behind in reproving India for its gross act of blasphemy.
Demanding a public apology for the insensitive comments – hurting the sentiments of the over 2 billion Muslims – majority of the Islamic states launched a 'Boycott India' campaign and summoned India’s top diplomat accredited to their capital and issued a démarche.
Stung badly by the barrage of warnings and swift reaction of the Muslim Ummah, Narendra Modi’s government attempted damage control by suspending Sharma and expelling Jindal.
India’s external affairs officials tried spin-doctoring by claiming that the main protagonists who made the offensive comments were “fringe” figures. The truth is that both were key BJP office bearers, who had been entrusted with responsible positions.
Rana Ayyub, in her hard-hitting Op-Ed titled: ‘The world is finally reacting to India’s descent into hate’ carried in the June 7 issue of The Washington Post informs that:
The rebuke from at least 15 majority-Muslim countries, many of whom have been traditional allies or supporters of India, comes on the heels of Secretary of State Antony Blinken naming India while releasing the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report. Reading from the report, Blinken said:
“For example, in India, the world’s largest democracy and home to a great diversity of faiths, we have seen rising attacks on people and places of worship.”
Rana, an Indian journalist and author of Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up who has previously served an editor with Tehelka, an investigative magazine in India, adds that Rashad Hussain, U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, went a step further and said that some Indian officials were “ignoring or even supporting attacks on people or places of worship.”
It needs to be understood that India’s Islamophobia has its roots in V.D. Sarvarkar’s Hindutva ideology, which is being used to achieve apolitical dividend in India. Narendra Modi, himself, is a self-acclaimed RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) Parcharak (Activist).
One of Savarkar’s successors, Golwalkar, who was obsessed with Hitler's Nazi-Germany, had observed: "Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for use in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."
In 1992, former-BJP leader L.K. Advani took the Hindutva-ideology to the mainstream of Indian politics by leading the Ram Rath Yatra and demolishing the historic Babri Mosque in Ayodhya. Under the watch of Narendra Modi as Chief Minister, in 2002, over 2.000 Muslims were massacred in the Indian state of Gujarat. Thus, his reign of terror in the center is a continuation of the same rabid Hindu mindset.
National BJP President Amit Shah claimed “We will ensure implementation of NRC in the entire country. We will remove every single infiltrator from the country, except Buddha, Hindus and Sikhs.” The BJP, in essence, evoked an Indian civilisation that excludes Muslims branding Islam as the religion of invaders, beef eaters, regressive burka-clad women, and terrorists.
In a conscious effort to convert the Muslim nation into a minority through efforts including the citizenship act, the Ghar Wapsi (Indian Muslims must return to their original Hindu fold) program aims the conversion of Muslims into Hindus. In a bid to distort, history is being changed as a part of statecraft-hood and would continue under the BJP regime.
Muslims are the country’s largest minority group, forming 15 percent of the population, but they barely have less than 4 percent employment in government and military organisations. The perpetrators of the hate ideology often use Islamophobic rhetoric to establish conservative credentials and galvanize voters.
They conflate Islam with terrorism and depict Muslims as inherently dangerous people. In one instance in 2016, BJP Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Anantkumar Hegde declared “as long as there is Islam in the world, there will be terrorism. Until we uproot Islam, we can’t remove terrorism.”
Now they have gone too far and the wrath of the Islamic Ummah has finally exposed the brutal and ugly visage of BJP’s hatemongering.
The writer's 2019 book 'Rising Hindutva and its Impact on the Region' was a bestseller
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