News Analysis |
Three Muslim clerics were attacked by a group of men with sharp objects aboard a train in India’s Uttar Pradesh province on Thursday. This latest attack only heightens fears for a minority community that already feels under siege since the rise to power by Hindutva fundamentalist Narendara Modi.
According to media sources, the three clerics were attacked by six to seven men who also allegedly tried to throw them off the train. The clerics reportedly had an argument with their assailants over covering their heads, who attacked them with iron rods and sticks as they got off the train.
The victims Maulvi Gulzar, Israr, and Abrar have all been admitted to a hospital according to reports. The three men who boarded a passenger train at Delhi last night were on their way to a village in Baghpat when they had a tiff with some youth who allegedly beat them up, Superintendent of Police Baghpat Jaiprakash Singh was quoted as saying.
The populous State of Uttar Pradesh has seen significant instances of anti-Muslim rhetoric ever since the rise of hardcore Hindutva “saint” Yogi Adatyanath.
A first investigation report has been registered against the unknown assailants and the case is being transferred to Railway Police. However, the victims have a different tale to tell. One of the victims, Israr, says when he asked the attackers why they were hitting him, “they said nothing and kept assaulting us”. He added that one of the attackers said: “rumaal kyon pehente ho” [why do you wear that scarf] apparently referring to the keffiyeh or scarf often worn by Muslim men.
In June, 16-year-old Junaid Khan died and his cousins were wounded after an assault on a train near Delhi by a mob of 20 that shouted abuse and called them “anti-nationals” and “beef-eaters”. The police had said that the dispute started over seats, and the man who argued with Junaid came back to the train with a mob from his village.
India’s descent into brutal mob attacks under the BJP government has disturbed many. The fact that most of the victims belong to minorities points to religiopolitical machinations. For the last 30 months, a climate of fear and insecurity is created by repeated, deliberate, divisive and provocative statements. Empowered Hindutva fundamentalists are seeking to impose a single uniform ethic in diverse domains such as food, dress, culture or thinking.
The lynching of minorities in north India has been marked by silence from the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Hindutva fundamentalist party which rules all the northern states except Punjab and Delhi. In fact, there has been a conscious attempt to divorce Islam and Muslims from the national ethos. This year’s President’s Ramadan Iftar party was notable for the complete absence of Hindu state ministers.
In June, 16-year-old Junaid Khan died and his cousins were wounded after an assault on a train near Delhi by a mob of 20 that shouted abuse and called them “anti-nationals” and “beef-eaters”.
The populous State of Uttar Pradesh has seen significant instances of anti-Muslim rhetoric ever since the rise of hardcore Hindutva “saint” Yogi Adatyanath. Yogi himself rose to infamy when he called for raping dead Muslim women. His ascent to the post of Chief Minister of the state has witnessed increase attacks on the landmark Taj Mahal.
Due to it being a landmark built by Muslim rulers, it is denounced by the Hindutva elites who desire to morph India into a Hindu “rashtra”. The attacks against Muslims themselves have become integral to the phenomenon of a standardization of hatred which in turn causes a public indifference to brutality perpetrated against Muslims. The creation of this fresh norm is often bolstered by the intellectual battalions of India’s Hindutva community which causes no reactions to the killing of Muslims.
While there have been attempts by the old Indian secular elite and the liberal community to stall this wave of violence and hate against Muslims, no headway has been made. Liberal secular logic fades away in the face of doctored history, community rivalry, and religious bigotry. Instead, the symbol of Nehruvian secular India, the Indian National Congress, has been flirting with soft Hindutva to woo voters in the Indian Hindi belt.
It seems that each attack against India’s largest minority is a deathblow to the crumbling Gandhian foundations of India which is giving way to a hate-filled blood-soaked theocracy.