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EDITORIAL: Nurturing anti-Muslim hatred, another prominent member of India’s ruling party the BJP, a legislator in Talengana state, T. Raja Singh, has made blasphemous remarks about the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) in a video posted on social media. He was detained by the police only to be released a few hours later on bail.

After protests broke out in several places, the BJP said Singh was being suspended from the party pending an inquiry. This is the second time in less than three months that a BJP leader has deliberately offended Muslim sentiments not just in India, but all around the world. Last April, its spokesperson in New Delhi, Nupur Sharma, had made similar outrageous remarks, drawing denunciation from several Muslim countries. And yet Singh felt free to do that again secure in the knowledge that he would face no serious legal or political consequences.

Anti-Muslim hate speech and violence are part of BJP-RSS combine’s Hindutva project of creating a Hindu Rashtra, a Hindu majoritarian state in which Muslims have no place other than that of second class citizens. They are routinely subjected to harassment, threats, even murder on suspicion of eating or possessing cow meat, as well as persecution through the legal system.

Discriminatory laws have been brought to marginalise and ghettoize Muslims. They live in constant fear of the rising tide of Hindutva. Yogi Adityanath, the saffron-robed Hindu monk-turned politician chief minister of the country’s most populous state, Utter Pradesh, not only delivers incendiary tirades against Muslims, he has been pursuing a systematic policy of mistreatment of the Muslim community targeting their businesses and, through the passage of ‘forced conversions’ law that carries 10-year jail sentence, Muslim men who marry Hindu women.

Last December, speaking at a conference of Hindu religious leaders and activists, including many close to Prime Minster Narendra Modi, national secretary of Hindu Mahasabha, Pooja Shakun Pandey, went as far as to say “if 100 of us are ready to kill two million of them [Muslims], then we will win and make India a Hindu nation.” Even after this shocking call for Muslim genocide Modi kept silent, signalling his support. By allowing such blatant hate speech and violence he has encouraged his party officials to utter the most ignoble comments.

While strongly condemning the “highly provocative and sacrilegious remarks”, the Foreign Office in Islamabad said it is highly reprehensible that Singh was released on bail within hours of arrest and was welcomed by BJP zealots. Terming the action taken by the BJP against Singh as token and perfunctory that cannot assuage the pain and anguish caused to Muslims, Islamabad has asked New Delhi to “take immediate and decisive action against the BJP members habitually involved in attacking Islam and targeting the dignity of the beloved Prophet (PBUH).”

Modi, of course, is not going to listen to Pakistan, but he cannot ignore the Gulf states, in particular Saudi Arabia and the UAE, where more than 8 million Indians are employed, sending billions of dollars back home. They are also its largest regional-bloc trading partners. Last time, they had summoned Indian ambassadors and given them official reprimand over the derogatory comments. That has not helped. They need to use their economic heft to stop India’s Hindu extremist rulers from persecuting the country’s Muslim population and insulting their Holy Prophet (PBUH).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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