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How safe are Muslims and other minorities in Modi’s ‘New India’?

How safe are Muslims and other minorities in Modi’s 'New India'?
Many Muslims believe that they are marginalized as "second-class citizens" under the BJP-ruled state governments in India

It is now increasingly clear that the Modi government’s pro-Hindu agenda will become more aggressive in order to reap the electoral harvest in the parliamentary elections in 2024.

by Rabi Sankar Bosu 

Last month on August 15, in his Independence Day speech at the Red Fort, built by Muslim Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his determination to build a “New India” with “Panch Pran” (five resolves). To make India a developed country before the centenary of its independence in 2047, he had set goals for the next 25 years which indicates that the journey of 75 years is now a past history; India’s 1.38 billion people will now live clinging to the dream of a new India of the century.

But the question is that what will be the place of Muslims, Christians, Dalits (downtrodden caste) and other minorities in Modi’s dream India in the coming days? During the eight years of the Modi-led Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s rule, India’s secular structure is crumbling again and again with the heavy sigh of Indian Muslims, which is very worrying, and alarming. In recent years, the ruling BJP leadership is trampling down Indian Muslims and other minority people’s basic democratic rights, emotions, religious values and dietary habits.

On the day while addressing the citizens of the country, PM Modi spoke about the unity of the country, empathy towards all citizens, and respect for women. To Quote Modi’s words, “Respect for women is an important pillar for India’s growth”. But the farce is that on the same day i.e. August 15, the BJP government of Gujarat, Modi’s home state, released the 11 convicts from jail in the Bilkis Bano case. It should be recalled here that during the 2002 Gujarat riots, these criminals gang-raped 5-month pregnant Bilkis Bano and killed her three-year-old daughter Saleha in front of her eyes. A total of 14 members of Bilkis’ family were murdered then. The whole country was shocked by the brutality of that sexual crimes and killings. After the release of the convicts from jail, Bilkis asked if the trial would end in this way in this country. As such, standing at the Red Fort, what type of equality and justice the Prime Minister announced?

As bitter as it may sound, it is very true that India’s secular foundations have changed a lot since Modi became the Prime Minister in May 2014. Adhering to the “Hindutva” (Hinduness) ideology, a majoritarian project by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to which the ruling party belongs, Modi and other senior BJP leaders have been pushing a long-term religious polarization across the country in order to pave the way for converting India from a secular republic to a Hindu ‘Rashtra’ (nation).

Many Muslims believe that they are marginalized as “second-class citizens” under the BJP-ruled state governments in India. From Gujarat to Manipur, from Kashmir to Kerala, everywhere Hindu extremists are endangering the lives and livelihoods of minorities on various pretexts.

Different issues of religious polarization such as the ‘hijab’ (headscarf) row, using loudspeakers at mosques, closing meat shops in the market during Hindu festivals and fairs, non-vegetarian food in hostels, criminalizing marriage between Muslims and Hindus, barring Muslim traders near Hindu temples, to list a few, are being raised every day to create communal divisions and hatred.

In April this year, during Hindu religious festivals – Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti celebrations, the saffron-clad Hindu religious groups chanting provocative slogans and hate-filled songs demolished structures of shops and residences of the Muslim minority community in BJP – ruled states that shook the country. “Bulldozer has become a symbol of state terror against Muslims in India”, said former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.

Over the last eight years, the Modi government’s anti-Muslim agenda is reflected in the abrogation of Article 370 of the constitution conferring a special status on Jammu and Kashmir, the introduction of the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA), and the construction of the massive Ram temple in Ayodhya or changing the names of Indian cities of the Muslim tradition or Muslim-era installations. Many have said that the citizenship law is the Modi government’s determined effort to make India a “Hindu nation” which goes against the fabric of the secular and pluralist India enshrined in the Constitution.

Getting endorsement by the ruling senior political figures both at the center and states, some fanatic Hindu zealots are now openly and aggressively provoking Hindus to take up weapons to slaughter “2 million Muslims”.  Many pro-BJP divisive loudmouths like former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, Telangana BJP MLA T Raja Singh are hurting religious sentiments of Muslim communities with their derogatory comments to Islam and Prophet Mohammed. Undoubtedly, their religious remarks caricatures India’s secular face, thus, causing communal tensions in India. In the light of the billowing anti-Muslim incidents, Modi’s slogan “trust of all” seems to be “hollow”.

There is growing concern at the international level about the plight of religious minorities in India. Highlighting the religious extremism in India, on April 25, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its annual report said that religious tolerance in India has declined significantly during the reign of Modi. It’s really dismaying that President Joe Biden has remained silent on the persecution of religious minorities across India as India is the USA’s strategic ally to contain China’s rise in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

It is now increasingly clear that the Modi government’s pro-Hindu agenda will become more aggressive in order to reap the electoral harvest in the parliamentary elections in 2024 by creating hatred and animosity among the majority Hindus towards Muslim minorities.

The ruling dispensation and their supporters have embarked upon a dangerous course of assertive political Hindutva agenda with de-nationalizing of the Muslims and other religious minorities which is not going to be beneficial to India. The ruling government must respect India’s religious diversity without altering the ideals of the Constitution. Let India with a shared sense of community of all religions move towards a brighter future in the next 25 years.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from news feeds. It has not been edited by Minority Watch staff. Please click this SOURCE LINK that deserves the credit.

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