Shrinking Space for Minorities in India

By Syeda Tahreem Bukhari

On this Minorities Rights Day in India, it is pertinent to mention that India tops the list of atrocities on minorities. Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and lower caste Hindus are facing the worst humanitarian crisis under the Modi regime where Manipur is burning, Sikhs and Kashmiri Muslims are the victims of transnational targeting of religious minorities. Due to the presence of systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, since 2020 has consistently advised the U.S. Department of State to classify India as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC), with the most recent recommendation found in its 2023 Annual Report. USCIRF also raised concerns regarding the targeting of religious minorities abroad.

Why Pakistan’s existence was crucial for the survival of minorities particularly Muslims under the Hindu majority is evident from the current wave of radicalization in India. The rise of Hindutva ideology, accompanied by hate speeches and a culture of impunity for the people involved in gross violation of human rights against minorities has put their survival at stake. Furthermore, bulldozer justice is systematically used to suppress and silence minorities. In Nuh violence, the path used by Hindu pilgrims, and Muslim houses in surrounding areas was bulldozed in the context of punishing them for stone pelting under the umbrella of illegal construction. In response to the violence, the Haryana government in Nuh, forcing an Indian court to ask if it was an “exercise of ethnic cleansing”, bulldozed more than 1,000 properties mostly belonging to Muslims. Citizenship Amendment Act passed by the Indian government was also an anti-Muslim bill to restrain Muslims from getting Indian citizenship. There are open calls for violence against Muslims in India; the leaders of radical Hindu organizations are calling for violence against Muslims. Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader in gathering in Madhya Pardesh was demonizing Muslims and calling Hindus to buy weapons. In another event held by the Hindu Seva Parishad, the far-right leader delivered hate speech against Muslims, she made derogatory remarks against Muslim women and pitched for a boycott of the Muslim community. These communal hate speeches against Muslims in India happened now and then demonizing Muslims, calling for the destruction of their mosques and converting them into temples. Making open calls for their slaughter. The “Jab Mulle Kaate Jaayenge,” slogan was raised in protest by radical Hindus in the presence of security personnel.

Cow devotees routinely massacre Muslims in India on suspicion of killing or transporting cows. Manu Manesar is the cow vigilante and perpetrator of inciting Haryana violence. He abducted two Muslim men and burnt them alive in their car. He is patronized by the BJP government preventing his arrest in cow-related attacks and killings. He is alleged as the biggest cow smuggler and extorts money from trucks for letting them pass from his area. The way was Gujarat Genocide was masterminded by Narendra Modi as Chief Minister of Gujarat, since his inception of power as Prime Minister of India; he has been paving ground for Muslim genocide. Even Genocide Watch has warned of Muslims Genocide in India. There has been an upsurge in violence against minorities particularly Muslims under the BJP government. The head of the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom also highlighted the sharp decline in religious freedom in India under the Modi regime. In Manipur violence against the Christian community, the radical Hindus tried to frame Muslims behind the viral video case to instigate another communal violence against Muslims. Even in Nuh Violence, fake video clips were run on YouTube where Hindu women claim of being raped by Muslims which was later denied by police of any such incident.

The deteriorating condition of the rule of law in India, with a shrinking social fabric for minorities where they are the victim of structural and cultural violence, Pakistan is the savior for minorities in the Indian Subcontinent, where not only Muslims but also minorities are free to practice their religion. They are not living under the fear of violence as mob violence is not justified, the perpetrators of religion-based hate crimes are dealt with iron hands, unlike in India where the government maintained unperturbed silence encouraging mob crimes against minorities.

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