Skip to main content

2019 polls "witnessing" juggernaut of hate, venom: Will the chariot of destruction stop?

By Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ*
The fifth phase of General Elections 2019 was over on May 6. As one looks back to the run-up, the campaigns and the election days itself, one can safely categorise it as the season of hate and venom. For the votaries of the ‘Hindutva’ ideology, it has been ‘no holds barred’ as they spewed venom and falsehoods on the minorities, particularly the Muslims and Christians and in their desperate attempt to seize power by hook or by crook and move towards their one ambition of establishing a ‘Hindu Rashtra’.
They will certainly not succeed in their game-plan; but the damage has been done: they have polarised people on religious lines as never before; minorities are being treated like second-class citizens and regarded as ‘unpatriotic’ because they apparently do not vote for the BJP; the party in power forgets however a significant fact: it is most Indians who do not vote for them and most of them are Hindus!
Just a few days ago Sadhvi Deva Thakur she categorically stated that Muslims and Christians should be forcibly sterilised. Earlier BJP MLA Prasanta Phukan who represents the Dibrugarh Assembly constituency said, “it is common knowledge that 90% of Muslims did not vote for us in the Lok Sabha election. There is no point in providing fodder to a cow that does not produce milk.”
Just before that, Maneka Gandhi, a Union Minister said that she might not be inclined to work for Muslims who do not vote for her. Another venomous so -called Sadhvi, Pragya Thakur, an accused in the Malegaon blast case of September 2008, is a BJP candidate inspite of spewing venom and being responsible for a terrorist act.
Another BJP MLA from Karnataka Sanjay Patil, said that the current elections were not about roads or water but about Hindus versus Muslims. The list is endless. A comprehensive report by the ‘Association for Democratic Reforms’(ADR) state that most of the hate speeches in the recent past were made by those belonging to the BJP.
The attacks on minorities (both verbal and physical), have been taking place on an unprecedented scale ever since they came to power in May 2014. It is therefore logical that spewing venom is the core agenda of the ruling political dispensation( besides they have absolutely nothing to show the country in their five years of misrule).
India was shocked when in October 2014 with the news that a “purification” ceremony would soon be conducted in the Dadri village to apparently ‘atone’ for the slaughter of a cow by a Muslim named Mohammad Akhlaq a few weeks earlier. Media reports state that “to atone for the “cow slaughter” through an expression of collective regret, the residents of the village in Dadri will undertake a “purification” of the village by sprinkling gau mutra (cow urine) all over.
The villagers believe that a cow was indeed killed by Akhlaq even though prima facie there was no evidence to back their claims. The first veterinary doctor’s report had declared that the meat seized from Akhlaq’s house by the police on the fateful night was mutton. Most of the villagers, however, allege the connivance of the local administration in hiding the “fact” of cow slaughter.
The ‘shuddhikaran’ ceremony will be performed by Sadhvi Harshita Giri, the new priest of the temple which was allegedly used by the BJP leader Sanjay Rana’s son Vishal Rana to announce and spread rumours about the alleged cow slaughter by Akhlaq, leading to his public lynching”. The district administration (where this village is situated) and the Government of the Uttar Pradesh State apparently took a stern view of the matter.
That was good; however, the fact that a group in the country has the audacity to think on the lines of a “purification” ceremony because of an animal, with total disregard for the value of a human being who has been lynched, speaks volumes for the way a feeling of ‘majoritarianism’ and the abuse of the religions of minorities has gripped India.
If this was a one-off, whilst not condoning the seriousness of this act, one could have in some ways addressed it or put it in perspective of the ‘ignorance’ of a superstitious community.
Unfortunately, this is not the case as the ruling Central Government of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) by its silence and even connivance seem to provide an aura of legitimacy to words and deeds of sadhus, sadhvis and their ilk, which systematically target the minorities of India today.
Fali Nariman, a Constitutional expert and one of India’s most eminent jurists delivered the 7th Annual Lecture of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM)September 12, 2014.The lecture was presided over by the then Minister for Minority Affairs Najma Heptulla.
Speaking on ‘Minorities at Crossroads: Comments on Judicial Pronouncements’, he lambasted the newly-elected NDA Government for doing nothing to stop the attacks and tirades by right-wing Hindu groups and individuals against minority communities in different parts of the country!
Nariman said, “Hinduism is losing its traditional tolerance because some Hindus have started believing that it is their faith that has brought them political power - and because this belief is not being challenged by “those at the top”.
Hinduism, he felt, over the years has been fairly tolerant of the other faiths in the country; “but - recurrent instances of religious tension fanned by fanaticism and hate speech have shown that the Hindu tradition of tolerance is showing signs of strain. And let me say this frankly - my apprehension is that Hinduism is somehow changing its benign face because, and only because it is believed and proudly proclaimed by a few (and not contradicted by those at the top): that it is because of their faith and belief that Hindus have been now put in the driving seat of governance."
He further maintained that “we have been hearing on television and reading in newspapers almost on a daily basis a tirade by one or more individuals or groups against one or another section of citizens who belong to a religious minority and the criticism has been that the majority government at the Centre has done nothing to stop this tirade.”
Even after this warning, there was no let-up on the hate speeches and attacks on the minorities in several parts of the country. Mohan Bhagwat, RSS chief, calls for the establishment of a Hindu ‘Rashtra’ (nation); a Union Minister, Niranjan Jyoti turns abusive saying that in India, one is either ‘ramzadon’ (those born of Ram) or ‘haramzadon’ (illegitimately born). On September 14, 2014, a BJP Parliamentarian Sakshi Maharaj made a strong allegation that, “the Madrasas of the Muslims were teaching terror”.
On January 5, 2015, addressing a gathering in Meerut, he boldly proclaimed, “the concept of four wives and 40 children will not work in India and the time has come when a Hindu woman must produce at least four children to protect Hindu religion.” The same news report goes on to add, ‘Sakshi Maharaj went further to add that those involved in conversion must be punished with death though ‘ghar wapsi’ (reconversion) is not equivalent to conversion.
“Wait for some time,” he thundered, “a law will be passed in Parliament in which anyone indulging in cow slaughter and conversion will be punished with the death sentence”.
The Dadri lynching of September 28, 2015 (when Akhlaq was killed because of a rumour that ‘he ate beef’) should not be a spontaneous act of violence by a mob but a well thought of barbaric act by people who know that they can do things with impunity, because they are vested with immunity.
In Gujarat, several Muslim youths were killed by the police in what is infamously known as “encounters". The youth were apparently innocent -- and those responsible for their deaths have got away with murder. Just last week, on May 2, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court dropped all charges against former police officers DG Vanzara and NK Amin in the sensational fake encounter case of Ishrat Jahan and three others in Ahmedabad.
As if on cue, the recently released Annual Report 2019 of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its Chapter on India very strongly stated:
“Over the last decade, conditions for religious minorities in India have deteriorated. A multifaceted campaign by Hindu nationalist groups like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sang (RSS), Sangh Parivar, and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to alienate non-Hindus or lower-caste Hindus is a significant contributor to the rise of religious violence and persecution. Those targeted by this campaign — including Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and lower-caste Hindus — face challenges ranging from acts of violence or intimidation, to the loss of political power, increasing feelings of disenfranchisement, and limits on access to education, housing, and employment.
"While there is a system of affirmative action for education, housing, and employment that is constitutionally mandated to assist historically disenfranchised groups, especially lower-caste Hindus, some have called its efficacy and fairness of implementation into question”.

The report further stated:
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi seldom made statements decrying mob violence, and certain members of his political party have affiliations with Hindu extremist groups and used inflammatory language about religious minorities publicly.
"Victims of largescale attacks in recent years have not been granted justice, and reports of new crimes committed against religious minorities were not adequately accounted for or prosecuted. India’s substantial population both complicates and limits the ability of national and state institutions to address these issues."

Based on these concerns, in 2019 USCIRF again places India on its Tier 2 for engaging in or tolerating religious freedom violations that meet at least one of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, egregious” standard for designation as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA)”. A strong indictment on a Prime Minister and Government which has become extremely communalized.
Ten years ago, in 2009, a massive rally organized by the Bharat Jagruti Morcha, brought together Hindu Sadhus and Sadhvis from all over India including Asaram Bapu and Morari Bapu of Gujarat; the gathering loudly proclaimed:
“Bharat Vishwa Guru Abhihan
Sant hamare desh ki shaan
Yahir banate desh mahan
Vishwa Guru ho bharat pyara
Aiysa hein sankalp hamara

Hindu drama hee vishwako vinash se bachaa sakta hai
Bharat Jagruti Morcha avaan karta hai

Samasth Hindu eek jhoot hogar desh, dharma veh sanskruti ki raksha kare"
(Movement of India’s World Gurus/ The saints are the country’s pride/ They make the country great/ The world gurus are beloved of India/ This is our resolve that/ Only Hindu religion can save the world from eternal damnation/ Bharat Jagruti Morcha calls upon Hindus to unite to save religion and culture.)
That which was perhaps just sloganeering ten years ago, is slowly becoming a reality as several of them are desperately trying to destroy the pluralism of India, in their attempt to create their “Hindu Rashtra”.
The juggernaut of hate and venom, divisiveness and violence are personified today by the likes of Sadhvi Deva Thakur, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and their ilk; with two phases of elections still to go, it is not too late to stop their chariot of destruction – but we the people of India must awake immediately and act cohesively now!
---
*Indian human rights activist and writer. Contact: cedricprakash@gmail.com

Comments

TRENDING

Bill Gates as funder, author, editor, adviser? Data imperialism: manipulating the metrics

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  When Mahatma Gandhi on invitation from Buckingham Palace was invited to have tea with King George V, he was asked, “Mr Gandhi, do you think you are properly dressed to meet the King?” Gandhi retorted, “Do not worry about my clothes. The King has enough clothes on for both of us.”

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

Stagnating wages since 2014-15: Economists explain Modi legacy for informal workers

By Our Representative  Real wages have barely risen in India since 2014-15, despite rapid GDP growth. The country’s social security system has also stagnated in this period. The lives of informal workers remain extremely precarious, especially in states like Jharkhand where casual employment is the main source of livelihood for millions. These are some of the findings presented by economists Jean Drèze and Reetika Khera at a press conference convened by the Loktantra Bachao 2024 campaign. 

Mark Lee: A spiritual leader who thought conventional religions are barrier to liberation

  By Harsh Thakor*  The Krishnamurti Foundation of America (KFA) lost Roger Edwin Mark Lee, who was a devoted disciple of Jiddu Krishnamurti, one of the greatest and most self realised spiritual philosophers of our time. Mark passed away due to pneumonia complications on April 6, 2024, at he Ventura Community Memorial Hospital in California. His exit was an irreparable loss to the spiritual world.

Fossil fuel projects: NGOs ask investors to cut TotalEnergies’ main sources of finance

By Antoine Bouhey, Lara Cuvelier, Helen Burley*  Reclaim Finance has joined 58 NGOs from around the world, including Banktrack, in signing an open letter calling on banks and investors to stop participating in bonds (loans granted by investors and facilitated by banks) issued by TotalEnergies. The 58 NGO signatories include 350.org , Amazon Watch, BankTrack, Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR, Papua New Guinea), Justiça Ambiental (Mozambique) and Friday for Future (Uganda), Oil Change International and Urgewald (Germany).