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

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”

TN woman's No Caste, No Religion struggle 'follows' ideals of Marx, Ambedkar, Periyar

By Sheshu Babu*
In these days of rising communal tensions, a courageous woman from Tamil Nadu achieved her dream of obtaining 'No Caste, No Religion' certificate through persistent struggle. This is quite a significant achievement. It comes alongside some colleges in West Bengal introducing 'humanity', 'agnostic' , 'secular' or 'non-religious' in the application forms for online submission for students who are unwilling to disclose their faith.

Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.

US Kashmiri diaspora body: World leaders, UN 'not acting', India enjoys total impunity

Counterview Desk
Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly session, to begin on September 17 in New York, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, secretary-general of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum, a non-profit organization based in Ohio, US, claiming to focus on providing information on Kashmir, has regretted that despite "violent" behaviour of Indian authorities in Kashmir, they enjoy "total impunity" across the world.

Modi used to 'run errands' during Emergency, his role was that much: Top JP associate

By Rajiv Shah
In a sharp exposure, well-known Gujarati critic, journalist and activist Prakash N Shah, who had been among the main contact persons of Jay Prakash Narayan (JP) in Gujarat, has recalled that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “merely running errands” during the Emergency (1975-77) period, adding the PM’s stature has been “sought to be unnecessarily inflated”, though adding, he is not saying this to “belittle him.”

Jharkhand riverine terminal: 485 families 'displaced', lose land, livelihood in Sahibgunj

Counterview Desk
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposes to inaugurate on Thursday India’s second riverine Multi-Modal terminal (MMT) at Sahibganj in Jharkhand, built at a cost of Rs 290 crore reportedly in a record time of about two years, several civil rights organizations* have said that the government has failed to address the high-profile terminal’s social and environmental concerns.

Now clampdown on rally, arrest of pro-freedom activists in Pak-occupied Kashmir

Counterview Desk
In a fresh evidence, international human rights organizations are not just confining their attention on the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), whose special status was taken away by the Government of India in early August, leading to an unprecedented clampdown on the region. They have simultaneously begun focusing on the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where the situation is said to be worsening.
Thus, the International Human Rights Council ((IHRC) Hong Kong (HK), a top human rights organisation, said to be working towards to the promotion peace, equality, fundamental rights and social justice “as enunciated in the UN Human Rights Charter and other instruments of human rights”, has noted now a new wave of independence movement has struck PoK.  With offices in US, UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong, and having Kirity Roy and Lenin Raghuvanshi as IHRC office bearers from India, in a statement, it has claimed that on September 7 one of the biggest pro-Independenc…

Govt of India 'moves' to hold Assam-type foreigners' tribunals across India, warns report

Counterview Desk
A People’s Tribunal on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has warned in its interim jury report that two recent notifications of the Government of India may lay down the groundwork for triggering an NRC process in different parts of the country, pointing towards recent moves towards this.

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk
“Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

New sample suggests high pollution off Vadodara effluent channel, 'requires' action

Counterview Desk 
Gujarat’s top environmental group Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) has sharply criticized the Gujarat Pollution Control Board’s (GPCB’s) “on-serious, casual letter” dated September 5, which allegedly suggests that the top state state agency does not favour taking any action Central Gujarat’s effluent treatment plant, Vadodara Enviro Channel Ltd (VECL).