News Analysis |
On February 7, 2018 Vinay Katiyar, member of parliament representing Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) passed a contentious statement, “Muslims should not be living in this country, they should go to Pakistan or Bangladesh.” He further stated that a bill should be introduced in Parliament for those “who do not respect Vande Matram and insult national flag or hoist Pakistani flag”. This statement came in response to Asaduddin Owaisi, a politician belonging to All India Majlis-e-Itehad-ul Muslimeen, who has demanded the framing of a law to punish anyone who calls an Indian Muslim, a ‘Pakistani’.
All the opposition parties in India need to work together and stop the increasing hatred towards minorities; otherwise India’s secularism and pluralism in under threat. This is especially pertinent to the kind of hate-filled speeches coming from the BJP. In recent months the hate crimes, particularly against Muslims, have been growing and people have been given the freedom to express their intolerance. These sentiments are becoming more catastrophic after the BJP’s success in Uttar Pradesh. Prime Minister Modi shows a nuanced check over the hate speeches and crimes against Muslims.
The Indian government should also conform to the international human rights regimes to reshape its image as a responsible state. Universal minority rights are required for India to be able to justifiably call itself the “world’s largest democracy”.
BJP leaders including Union Ministers are claiming that Muslims should no longer be treated as a minority as their population has increased. This was most recently expressed by the Union Minister of State, Giriraj Singh, who said that the Muslim population in India has reached such a level that the minority tag should be removed from it. In reality, apart from Muslims, there are Christians, Jains and Sikhs that make up the religious minorities living in India. Thus, if Muslims are being targeted and are being told to go to Pakistan or Bangladesh then the question arises on how much longer Christians, Jains and Sikhs will be tolerated and where will they be asked to go.
As BJP looks to promote its extremist Hindutva ideology, it continues to damage the professed fabric of the secular society, resulting in inequality, political and administrative discrimination and threats to the physical security of minorities. This can be assessed by India’s Home Ministry’s statement. In 2015, India experienced a 17% increase in communal violence. Mob-killing became the order of the day.
If Muslims are being targeted and are being told to go to Pakistan or Bangladesh then the question arises on how Christians, Jains and Sikhs can be tolerated for the same reason.
Out of 63 attacks reported since 2010, 61 took place under Modi’s government, and 24 out of 28 people killed in attacks were Muslims. During the first six months of 2017, 20 beef-related attacks were recorded in India.
The United Nations’ Minority Council clearly states that a special commission should be set up for minorities in each country. Along with this, the council has recommended a targeted approach for the improvement of minority communities. For the Indian government to keep its image as a responsible state, universal minority rights are required so that it can justifiably call itself the “world’s largest democracy”.
On the other hand, the socio-economic status of Muslims in India is miserable and they are deprived of basic necessities and marginalized. Like other communities, Muslims have been living for centuries in India and to now ask them to “go back” somewhere else, reeks of racism often seen in western countries. If the BJP take this one step further and start implementing this forcefully, then it would be leading towards genocide. Moreover, the large Hindu middle class in India does not like the anti- Pakistani approach and would prefer the country’s leaders focused on the social and economic development of the country.
It is high time that the international community and organizations take effective measures to ensure the availability of basic human rights to the minorities of India, to prevent the government from undermining and persecuting innocent Muslim citizens in India.
The Human Rights Watch Report 2018 stated that the Indian Government failed to stop or credibly investigate vigilant attacks against religious minorities during 2017. Additionally, the current ruling party BJP publically promotes Hindu supremacy and ultra-nationalism at the expense of the fundamental rights of all Indians.
The dominant non-religious tendency of the Congress, deep-rooted divisions within the society and requirement of the dominant environment pushed India to amend their political system to so-called secularism, which Nehru suggested to preserve India’s unity. However, increasingly as the Congress Party is reeling under the pressure of BJP’s politics, it has also started engaging in mandhir politics; as was seen in the recent Gujarat elections, in which Rahul Gandhi made sure he was seen at a temple every day.