IT has been 28 years since frenzied Hindu mobs tore down the Mughal-era Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. That sad event was a bellwether, signifying the horrors to come as the demon of Hindutva was unleashed to tear into the vitals of Indian secularism. Indeed, those that had taken part in that orgy of hate and violence are now controlling the levers of state in India, which bodes ill for minorities living in that country, particularly its Muslims. While Hindutva was once a fringe movement, with the Sangh Parivar linked to M.K. Gandhi’s assassination, today it dictates state policy, with the prime minister of India and other high officials proudly flaunting their association with the Sangh.
Considering the dangerous direction India has taken, the Foreign Office has rightly highlighted the need for New Delhi to protect minorities, especially Muslims, who are vulnerable thanks to the shock troopers of the Sangh, who make a mockery of the law, and worse still, formulate laws that enshrine bigotry and discrimination. In a statement, the FO recalled that the destruction of the Babri Masjid was a “blatant violation of religious and international norms”, while adding that in today’s India, Muslims were being “systematically demonised, dispossessed, marginalised”.
Indeed, the trajectory from the mosque’s desecration to the rapid spread of Hindutva is a frightening one. In nearly three decades the Sangh Parivar has gone from a conglomerate of rabid extremist groups to becoming the ideological mother ship of India’s ruling clique. Nehruvian secularism is dead, replaced by a muscular Hindutva that seeks to push India’s minorities to the margins, preferably purging the rashtra of all ‘alien’ influences. The lynchings of Muslims on suspicions of consuming beef, laws designed to disenfranchise Indian Muslim citizens by having to ‘prove’ their antecedents, as well as the latest law passed by Uttar Pradesh banning interfaith marriages based on so-called love jihad are all part of the grim reality that is the new India.
However, while the short-sighted and intellectually dubious ideologues of the Sangh may paint the Muslim as the eternal outsider, Islam and Muslims are very much part of the fabric of India. Any attempt to erase their contribution and physical presence can only be attributed to fascistic tendencies. Is the international community — which has sworn to never forget the fascist purges of 20th-century Europe — willing to apply the same moral standards and censure to India for persecuting its Muslims?
Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2020