Since its birth in 1947, the Republic of India is once again in search of its soul and identity. Then it cast itself as a secular state and its constitution was formed on these very principles. Even as it was doing so, there was a competing ideology – the Hindutva – that rejected secularism and partition of India on communal lines.
The current in-office Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) practices the Hindutva ideology, whose custodian and advocate are the world’s biggest paramilitary non-governmental organization – Rashtriya Sawayamsevak Sangh, with an estimated 6 million volunteers as its members.
Inspired by the rise of ethnic nationalism in Germany and Italy in the interwar period of the last century, the RSS preached promotion and protection of Hindus’ religious, political and cultural interests. It also developed an organized cadre and encouraged violent extremism and terrorism to achieve its objectives.
After decades-long political wilderness, the RSS rose infamously to notoriety because of the assassination of Mr. Gandhi, and later after the demolition of the Babri Mosque, the latter also provided the BJP the fuel for its political ascent. What is evident is that the parchariks (advocates) of both the BJP and the RSS make no secret that their doctrine incites hatred and propagates discrimination, xenophobia, intolerance, and majoritarianism.
The two-nation theory is pertinent today to protect the rights of the Muslims in India. After a vow of fealty with India for the past 72 years, Indian Muslims are now learning the hard way that they may not even be recognized as Indians
It also believes there is only one faith for India, or even South Asia – Hinduism. All other followers of different faiths are perceived as outsiders. In plain words, the BJP-RSS nexus, and its dozens of extremist affiliates, are anti-minorities – Muslims, Christian, Sikhs, Buddhists.
It is especially against “untouchable Dalits, the lowest in the Hindu caste systems. Hindutva, a primordial system, is designed to establish the supremacy of elitist, upper-class Hindus. One may be confident that in this day and age, this primitive system would be defeated by the democratic, populist wave of our times, powered by the information revolution, new technologies, and universal human rights movement.
However, recent times have once again demonstrated that modern global systems and polities are not immune from the serious risks of the rise of neo-Fascist doctrines, masquerading as popular movements, and the manipulation of the democratic system to create political space for tyranny. In 2019, a series of steps were taken by the BJP to further the Hindutva cause.
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These include; the attack against Pakistan on February 26, the use of the false claim of a successful “surgical” strike to brainwash its voters to garner support, the abolition of the disputed status of the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, a skewed and biased decision on the Babri mosque, the new citizenship act against Muslims, earlier isolation of Indian citizens, especially Muslims, in concentration camps in Assam, and the threat of the National Register of Citizens and National Population Register – both meant to disenfranchise minorities, especially Muslims.
All these strategies were right out of the Hindutva playbook. In the process, the death squads of the BJP-RSS regime have used mob lynching, massacres, arson, and pogroms, with a combination of unabashed flourish, cunning, and implausible deniability. Mass protests and global condemnation do not seem to have deterred them but goaded them to gloat over their achievements.
In their unbridled frenzy, they have left behind a trail of death and destruction, a tale of human suffering, and a saga of instability in India and beyond. The enlightened political forces and civil society of India have opposed this onslaught on India’s overall humanitarian society and political system.
However, buoyed up by their electoral strength, the BJP-RSS regime are also bent upon forging ahead to ‘purify’ Bharat Bhumi, and to establish ‘Akhand Bharat’. Plainly put, this would mean a combination of ethnic cleansing and irredentism.
Indian civil society alone will not be able to stop this avalanche. It would need the support of actors of civil society from the neighboring countries and the international community, to say the least.
How should we brace for this looming humanitarian apocalypse?
Stop appeasing the BJP-RSS nexus
Awareness should be created in Western countries to put pressure on their governments to stop appeasing India. Right now, the Western governments are appeasing India in many forms. Despite the uproar in the international media, Parliaments and human rights organizations, Western capitals either tend to whitewash Delhi’s crimes against humanity in Kashmir, UP, Delhi, Assam, or look the other way.
This they do because of their lucrative trade and investment agreements with India and its potential as a huge consumer market. But if the BJP continues with its killing frenzy, it may not remain in charge for long and the Indian market itself would be badly mauled.
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In any case, the West has the full benefit of the hindsight of the last century’s Munich Agreement of 1938, which instead of ensuring collective security pushed the world to a devastating World War II, and emboldened Hitler to exterminate 6 million Jews. In India, we are looking at much larger vulnerable populations – 200 million Muslims, 250 million Dalits, to start with. Appeasement will not work; it must be reversed.
Demand repeal of neo-Nuremberg laws
A raft of laws being passed by India now are uncannily similar to the Nuremberg Laws, that were introduced against Jews by Hitler’s Nazi regime 1935, and supplemented later.
These laws deprived Jews of their German citizenship, of their right to vote and to hold public office, prohibited marriage between Jews and Germans, forbade German females from working as domestic servants in the Jews’ houses, stopped Jews from flying the German flag, and banned the practice of medicine by Jews.
The Jews were designated “subjects of the state” and the onus to prove their citizenship was on them. Jewish lands and businesses were confiscated under a movement called “Aryanization” (German – Arisierung), which finally culminated in a massive deportation of Jews.
Because of the BJP’s Kashmir occupation and its barefaced anti-Muslim policies in India, some Pakistani leaders and analysts tend to get nostalgic and over-sentimental about Gandhi-Nehruvian secularism, which never existed from day one
This is precisely what is happening in the IOJK: depriving Kashmiris of their identity, their rights to land and businesses. The forced Hinduization of Kashmir contrived demographic changes, and establishment of concentration camps for young boys euphemistically called “de-radicalization camps”.
In India itself, a Nazi-like experiment, through statistical manipulation, was first was done in Assam, and the BJP leaders have said they are going to repeat this experiment in the whole of India, especially targeting Muslims.
Already, a popular movement has started to oppose these discriminatory laws, but the international community, especially the United Nations, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), and the International Law Commission (ILC) need to get deeply involved.
We salute Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, for proactively filing an application with the Supreme Court, to make the United Nations a third party in regard to the controversial 2019 Citizenship Amendment Act.
Conduct a study of anticipated Statelessness in India
In January this year, leading political blocs of the 751- member European Parliament, in half a dozen resolutions, lambasted India for its discriminatory citizenship law, and its actions in IOJK. The resolutions, among others, say that this law, and the ones that are likely to ensue, are “set to create the largest statelessness crisis in the world”. This indeed is a dire and realistic alert for the humanitarian community.
The world must prepare for it because if this kind of firestorm breaks out, it would be more uncontrollable than the coronavirus. Imagine hundreds of thousands of refugees and economic migrants crossing land routes, seas, and oceans to reach the Asia-Pacific, European and North American regions; where people would feel the safest if they are allowed to enter at all.
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The European Union can initiate an exercise on anticipated refugee outflows on its own, but it can also do so in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), an organization that has to be prepared for such exigencies.
RSS should no more remain under the radar screen
Following 9/11, every terrorist outfit came under close scrutiny, but not the RSS, nor Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena, Vishwa Hindu Parishad or Abhinav Bharat, to name a few. Why? Because they are part of India’s ruling architecture since the 1990s and the early 2000s?
Or because they did not threaten the Western interests, though they have been persecuting and attacking minorities in India with impunity? The vigilance about Saffron terrorism became enhanced when back in 1999, a Christian missionary, Graham Staines, and his two sons were burnt to death in Odisha.
The list of Saffron terrorists’ crimes is long – Gujarat massacre (2002), Samjhota Express bombings (2007), Ajmer Dargah attack (2007), Orissa violence against Churches and Christians (2007 and 2008), and many others. Their main targets have been mosques, shrines, churches, Muslims and Christians.
Kashmiris and Indian Muslims have faced as many massacres under the Congress regime, as under the BJP government, and even more cumulatively. The methods were different
Recently, a petition has been filed with the US State Department to designate the RSS a foreign terrorist organization because it models itself on the Nazi party, and takes direct inspiration from it. On February 27, this year, as Delhi was rocked by anti-Muslim riots led by RSS, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expressed ‘grave concern over the ongoing violence in Delhi’.
But such mild admonitions will not do. The RSS has to be kept under close watch. Its estimated 400,000 cadres, being trained in asymmetric, paramilitary and terrorist training, should be isolated and “de-radicalized”.
The Hindu Sawayemsevak Sangh, the international arm of RSS, has a growing network in North America, Europe, and Oceania. Their activities are not being monitored, unlike other violent extremist organizations. Most importantly, their financing back and forth is not being tracked rigorously.
As upper-class Hindus assert their power not just against Muslims, but Dalits and Sikhs, there would be a reaction in youth. Hindus cannot bear to see Muslims and Dalits, both belonging to lower and downtrodden classes, as their equals, while they (Muslims and Dalits) gradually perform better in education and businesses. The friction caused by such societal clash would have a spillover effect for Pakistan and other neighboring countries in South Asia.
Partiality of the Indian system
Indian system has gone partial and many organs of the state, including the judiciary and bureaucracy, are doing the bidding of the ruling party. Like their ideological masters, who have placed them in key positions, they too see gold at the end of the rainbow of extremism.
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Regrettably, at the end of this journey, they will see only smoke, ruined cities, and charred bodies. There is no sublimity in the killings of innocent human beings. Is this the future they want for India and the region?
Kashmir under lockdown
Kashmir continues to be under a severe and punitive lockdown. The international media and world parliaments’ role in raising voice for the people of Jammu and Kashmir has been commendable. The Pakistanis and Kashmiris, here and abroad, also joined forces to call out India and showed to the world their combined strength.
And yet, the most powerful nations, those who make decisions inside and outside the UN, have been cagey in their response, and this has encouraged Indians to subject Kashmiris to the worst brutalities. These nations’ cautious approach has, inadvertently and without saying so, have endorsed India’s impunity.
Yet, by a strange twist of events, the signature slogan of Azadi, chanted in Kashmir’s vales and hills, is now resonating throughout India. The oppression that stalked Kashmir for decades has just reared its head in India too. The cause in both cases is the same: denial of fundamental rights of the people and for Kashmir the right to self-determination.
It is time to take stock of the two-nation theory which was so viciously maligned by the Indian National Congress in pre-partition days. The ideology is as relevant today as it was during the Freedom Movement. What Muslims were projecting at that time was not supremacism but distinctness. But the Congress was trying to hoodwink Muslims, to bury them under a bigger mass and then totally disenfranchise them.
There is sufficient evidence that Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, et al – all believed in Hindu supremacy and the caste system in one form or the other. From their point of view, Muslims, followers of a monotheistic religion, had to be managed; Christians had to be amalgamated; and Dalits were to stay where they were, but could be treated humanely, as far as Gandhi was concerned.
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Only B. R. Ambedkar was a true humanist who could see the rationale for Pakistan and advocated equal rights for Dalits. The two-nation theory is pertinent today to protect the rights of the Muslims in India. After a vow of fealty with India for the past 72 years, Indian Muslims are now learning the hard way that they may not even be recognized as Indians.
When they protest against this anomaly, they are dubbed as traitors and asked to migrate to Pakistan. The BJP is winning over Dalits, without any empathy for them, to swell their vote bank. They would never accept them as equals now or in the future. The Hindu election strategists start with Dalit recruits early, in their teens, to brainwash them against Muslims.
For Muslims, their repertoire includes pitting Shias against Sunnis, forced reconversion of Muslims to Hinduism (Ghar Wapsi), trolling and delegitimizing Love Jihad (marriage between a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl), and propagating Gao Raksha to lynch Muslim traders and target cattle breeders, including Dalits.
The BJP doctrinaires are deliberately triggering a civilizational clash in the belief that Hindus, in the long run, will triumph. The Muslim Ummah is divided and some of the powerful Muslim rulers do not even lift a finger to ask Narendra Modi to stop killing innocent, unarmed Muslims in India and Kashmir.
The irony of the situation, however, is, that with the growing unrest, radicalization, and refugees, a financial and sociopolitical crisis is already knocking on the door of the world
This is the Muslim appeasement of India. The BJP-RSS regime believes that, while it remains aligned with the West and arrayed against China, it can take as many measures against Muslims in India and Kashmir as it likes, with full immunity.
What they do not realize is that this scenario is not static and when you take on 250 million Muslims of your own population, as well as Dalits and marginalized citizens, they are by no means a minority but a substantial plurality. By messing with them you can play havoc with your carefully calculated constants and variables.
The elephant in the room in South Asia is the possibility of an intended or unintended nuclear clash between India and Pakistan. The standoff in IOJK becomes perilous by the day while the BJP-RSS nexus prime the system to steal land from the Kashmiris and impose a fake political class of tormentors.
These measures up the ante for a backlash from within the IOJK and escalation along the Line of Control. This time around India, the putative adherent of the No First Use doctrine is wantonly indulging in nuclear saber-rattling. Last April, Narendra Modi, the Indian Premier, threatened to wipe Pakistan out by using “mother of nuclear bombs”, adding that his arsenal is not “fireworks for Holi”.
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He repeated this threat with unbridled bluster again this year at the Republic Day announcing that he can obliterate Pakistan in 7 to 10 days. Good enough, but he is presuming that Pakistan would be sitting on its haunches, doing nothing at all.
That is a grave error of judgment because a nuclear exchange will be a double-edged sword for both countries. Modi should first vow to save his own people from his own sword and from the mobs he has incited to commit massacres and pogroms. In any case, this kind of mindset raises the question, are nuclear weapons safe in the hands of RSS operatives.
Because of the BJP’s Kashmir occupation and its barefaced anti-Muslim policies in India, some Pakistani leaders and analysts tend to get nostalgic and over-sentimental about Gandhi-Nehruvian secularism, which never existed from day one. This was a promise that was never delivered.
Kashmiris and Indian Muslims have faced as many massacres under the Congress regime, as under the BJP government, and even more cumulatively. The methods were different. The whole Indian society needs surgery to promote respect for pluralism and diversity. This piece should not sound self-righteous about Azad Kashmir and Pakistan.
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We too have our problems, but they can be analyzed in another paper, with full scope for self-introspection and objective analysis. We all need to make South Asia a peaceful, secure and prosperous, please. For that, we will have to work together.
The silence of the world community at the recent turn of events in the Republic of India for mere financial and trade interests is appalling. The irony of the situation, however, is, that with the growing unrest, radicalization, and refugees, a financial and sociopolitical crisis is already knocking on the door of the world.
President of Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Sardar Masood Khan was previously permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN (2012-2015). He has a track record of international leadership in diverse matters encompassing peace and security, nuclear diplomacy, social and economic development, and international humanitarian law.
The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.