Photo: Talakdar David, Shutterstock

India: wrecking balls against protests

For the first time in a while, rabid anti-Muslim rhetoric by BJP henchmen has led to anger among foreign partners.

The fact that in India the BJP party, as the political arm of the Hindu nationalist movement (Hindutva), is making politics with its unbridled hatred of Muslims after the breakaway of the once dominant Congress party of Nehru and his successors, is everyday life in today’s country of billions. At the national and state level, government members and functionaries of this party maltreat Muslims and nationals such as Christians, the casteless as well as artists and dissidents.

Hindutva‘s blatant aggression does not stop at linguistic and physical violence. More than 170 million Muslims in India have been increasingly exposed to attacks and persecution by the extremists since the BJP and Modi came to power in 2014. The party, as an extension of the movement, accuses them of conspiring against Hinduism. Their aggression did not even stop at incitement to crime and murder.

After well-known representatives called for the targeted murder of Indian Muslims a few months ago, the previous BJP spokesperson Nupar Sharma and her deputy Jindal have now made an inglorious name for themselves. In late May, both denigrated the Prophet Muhammad. Although the BJP suspended both and stressed religious freedom, there were nationwide protests in India by the minority, which was also subjected to targeted state repression during the height of the pandemic.

For the first time, representatives from other Muslim countries, who had already embraced Prime Minister Modi or decorated him with medals during previous state visits, reacted critically in public. It was to be expected that the government of Pakistan’s permanent rival would react in this way. President Alvi accused the more powerful neighbour of “Islamophobia.” States such as Iran, Qatar and Kuwait also voiced their disapproval of Sharma’s and others’ statements. According to reports, these countries summoned Delhi’s ambassadors there. Saudi Arabia called the statements “insulting” and Arab media social media called for a boycott of Indian goods.

According to experts, the conflict is a potential test for economic relations with the Gulf states as well as a threat to the security of the millions of Indians working in the Arab world there. The volume of trade between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and India was more than $87 billion in 2020-21. The region is also one of Delhi’s main suppliers of energy sources to the country. Moreover, India depends on good relations with the Gulf for its strategic direction, independent of Washington and Beijing.

How repressive the political climate became under the BJP leadership is shown by its response to the nationwide protests. One example is the important state of Uttar Pradesh. There, the government under Prime Minister (and former Hindu priest) Adityanath had houses of Muslim protesters demolished. Allegedly, they were built illegally, and the protests were financed with “black money.”

During the Uttar Pradesh demos, police brutally beat demonstrators. On the same day, authorities began targeted repression of the alleged “conspirators.” Javed Mohammed, his wife and a younger daughter were arrested. On 11 June, a backdated notice of demolition was posted on the family’s house at night. He was listed as the addressee, even though he did not own the property. Less than 24 hours later, the building of his daughter Afreen Fatima, a well-known activist, was also razed to the ground. The houses of other opposition Muslims suffered a similar fate.

* With the use of KNA material.

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