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India to become a Hindu nation by 2024, announces BJP MP

26th Jan 2018
India to become a Hindu nation by 2024, announces BJP MP

Demonstrators gather outside Bikaner House in New Delhi, India on December 9, 2017, in protest over the murder of Mohammad Afrazul, a worker from West Bengal who became the latest Muslim victim of Hindu extremists. Afrazul’s killer Shambu Lal Regar, filmed his murder and threatened all Indian Muslims (Photo: Javed Sultan/Anadolu Agency)

Sajeda Haider

Surendra Singh, an elected lawmaker of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has announced that by 2024 India will become an exclusively Hindu nation, and all Muslims who wish to stay in India will have to convert to Hinduism or go in exile.

“There are a very few Muslims who are patriotic. Once India becomes a Hindu nation, Muslims who assimilate into our culture (read convert) will stay in India. Those who will not are free to take asylum in any other country” said the Member of the Legislative Assembly of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh from where the BJP last year won a  landslide victory and placed a controversial Hindu sadhu (holy man) as its Chief Minister.

India rally against killings of Muslims for alleged cow killing at Jantar Mantar New Dlehi June 30, 2017 (Photo: Javed Sultan/Anadolu Agency)

Singh’s comments go against the very tenet of the Constitution which says India is a secular nation that guarantees freedom of religion [Article 25 to 28]. His announcement would also have colossal ramification for the country’s estimated 180 million Muslim nationals – the second largest Muslim population in the world.

His inflammatory and blatantly unconstitutional statement on January 13  is simply voicing the secret intentions of his party and its ideological mentor organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Singh selected 2024 as the year for India’s official conversion into a Hindu nation to mark RSS’ centenary in 2025. The RSS, a militant Hindu supremacist and chauvinist organisation,  has been banned three times in post-Independence India and the BJP is its political wing.

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, began his career in the RSS, his hard-line belief in the ideology helped him quickly rise in the ranks. For many, his elevation to the premiership made the inception of a Hindu nation a foregone conclusion.

For many analysts, India is already a de facto Hindu country and has been so since 2014 when the Modi Government came to power and implemented laws and policies which demoted Muslim and Christian minorities to second-class citizens. The discriminatory policies have emboldened and protected violent anti-Muslim Hindu extremists as evident in the rising numbers of Hate Crimes.

“India is swiftly transforming into a republic of hate and fear, especially for its religious minorities and disadvantaged castes. The response of the ruling establishment to rising Hate Crime is cynical, combining strategic silences and official denial with tacit encouragement and incitement of hate speech and violence, and patronising vigilante groups and militias,” says Harsh Mander, a former  bureaucrat and now a full-time social activist working with the impoverished and survivors of mass violence. He is also the Director of Centre for Equity Studies.

Since the Modi Government took office the protection of cows has become the biggest single excuse with which to target Muslims.

In addition to being demonised as terrorists, traitors and foreigners, Muslims are now dubbed  “cow-killers”. The cow is considered sacred among Hindus, particularly in northern India where the BJP  continuously win elections. The BJP has been beefing up their cow protection laws in their stronghold states, making cow slaughter illegal and cattle farming dangerous for Muslims. Self-styled cow vigilantes called ‘gau rakshaks’ (‘cow protectors’) roam roads in northern India seeking Muslims with cows, who are assaulted or even killed in the most horrific manner and falsely accused of taking the cow for slaughter.

In 2015 Mohammed Akhlaq became the first reported victim of mob-lynching on the pretext of cow slaughter. The 52-year-old was killed by his neighbours who accused him and his family of eating and storing beef. Forensic tests on the meat showed that it was actually mutton. Since his lynching things have just got from bad to worse with far-fetched allegations of him smuggling cattle to Bangladesh, transporting beef, or very simply as in the case of 16-year-old Junaid Khan killed on a train during Ramadan – he is a “beef-eater”. It is just enough to be a Muslim for vigilantes to kill you and then accuse you of having something to do with the holy cow as the cause of the murder.

IndiaSpend, a non-profit data media portal, collated all cow related mob attacks reported after 2010. They found that 97 percent of attacks occurred after Modi assumed office in May 2017. In the last seven years, there have been a total of 63 cases of violence triggered by ‘cow protection’ of which 20 happened in the first six months of 2017. According to the data released, 28 people were killed and 124 others were injured in the attacks. Of the 28 killed, 24 were Muslims which is a whopping 86% of the fatalities.

As part of a ‘Caravan of Love’ Mander visited 55 families of Hate Crimes in eight states, a fraction of the Hate Crimes taking place and according to what he saw on the ground the violent incidents runs into thousands.

Shockingly not a single person has been convicted in any of the reported murder cases, and ironically while most of the accused are often not even arrested as they enjoy the protection of the ruling party victims of violence or their families are all facing court cases accusing them of cow-related offences. The Government offers a barefaced official denial of the scale of hate crimes.

Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh, told Parliament on December 27, 2017, that until July that year there were only two cases of mob lynching in the country. IndiaSpend found that 2017 recorded the highest death toll of 11 and the most number of incidents of hate violence (37) related to cows and religion since 2010.

While objective observers report systematic violence, the BJP passes off all the murders of Muslims as exaggerated and isolated criminal incidents used to malign their Government. “The culpable silences that surround mounting hate crimes are societal, political and official. More troubling is the scarcity of compassion and solidarity with victims of hate crimes” says Mander.

With a narrative already in place that has demonised Muslims, many of the religious practices of minorities slowly being throttled, India is already not far from being a Hindu nation. Observers argue that if Modi and the BJP win the 2019 general election they will remove the word ‘secular’ from the Indian Constitution and officially turn India into a Hindu country.

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