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EDITORIAL: At the UN Human Rights Council’s periodic Review process held earlier this month, some 21 countries took notice of a “serious regression” in human rights under the Hindu extremist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging India to improve its protection of freedom of religion and rights of religious minorities.

A few days later, six international human rights groups, including World Organisation for Human Rights, World Organisation Against Torture, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, issued a joint statement pointing out that since BJP under Modi came to power in 2014, it has taken various legislative and other actions that have made it “lawful to discriminate against religious minorities, particularly Muslims, and enabled violent Hindu majoritarianism.”

Ignoring censure by rights organisations, the Indian government continues to promote its Hindutva agenda, which affects Christians also but its main target is the Muslim community. Hindu vigilantes associated with the BJP have lynched several Muslims on mere suspicion of eating or possessing cow meat, even transporting cows, they regard as a sacred animal. Many old mosques have been demolished. BJP ruled Karnataka state has legally banned wearing of hijab by Muslim students to school; hardline Hindu groups are demanding a similar ban in other states.

Several Indian states have passed or about to do so anti-conversion laws – in violation of constitutionally protected right to freedom of belief — in order to prevent Hindu women from marrying Muslim men — termed as ‘love jihad’ — and yet many poor Muslims in rural areas have been forced to convert to Hinduism which is described as ‘Ghar Wapsi’ (return home), presumably, for being Hindus who had embraced Islam during the Muslim rule.

Meanwhile, the saffron-clad anti-Muslim hate spewing Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath, believed to be Modi’s successor as prime minister, has been bulldozing Indian Muslims’ homes and businesses on flimsy pretexts. At one point he also threatened to kill a thousand Muslims if they killed (in self-defence) one Hindu.

If that was not outrageous enough, last December at a religious event attended, among others, by a member of the ruling BJP, a leader of the Hindu extremist outfit Mahasabha went so far as to call for Muslim genocide saying, “even if just a hundred of us become soldiers and kill two million of them, we will be victorious … .If you stand with this attitude only then will you be able to protect ‘sanatana dharma’ [an absolute form of Hinduism].” And yet PM Modi ignored this call for mass killings of Muslims, maintaining his characteristic silence like on all such instigations to violence, signalling his tacit approval.

Unfortunately, none of this worries the Western countries claiming to be standard-bearers of human rights. It is worth noting that last April the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan independent body, for a third year in a row, recommended that India be designated “a Country of Particular Concern”, saying religious freedom conditions in the county had “significantly worsened in 2021”.

That prompted a Democratic Party legislator Ilhan Omar to raise the question “what does Modi need to do to India’s Muslim population before we will stop considering them a partner in peace.” The answer is ‘nothing’ as long as it serves Washington’s interests. Just the other day, State Department spokesman while commenting on Washington’s ties with New Delhi, said “India is an invaluable partner, not just in the region but as it relates to a lot of the United States’ shared priorities across the region [read encirclement of China]”.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

Comments

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TimeToMovveOn Nov 24, 2022 10:13pm
1.4 Billion people, there are bound to be some issues here and there. But all religions muslims, hindus, and christians are enjoying the economic prosperity.
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