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India: Communalism shifts gear

Saturday 23 April 2022, by siawi3


Communalism shifts gear


Published April 13, 2022

COMMUNAL violence against Muslims has flared up again in India. There’s a method in the madness as usual. Important BJP-ruled states are coming up for assembly polls. Karnataka, where the hijab controversy has mutated into a BJP-sponsored economic boycott of Muslims, and Madhya Pradesh, where recent violence has seen Muslim homes and properties being destroyed, face elections next year. BJP governments there were stolen from the Congress and its allies with induced defections. Therefore, the party is skating on thin ice in both. In Gujarat, where one person was killed in the police-backed violence, the BJP is preparing for elections later this year. Its numbers decreased in 2017 while the Congress had gained. The violence in opposition-ruled Jharkhand and West Bengal is about messaging to their neighbouring states such as Chhattisgarh and Meghalaya ahead of polls next year. Collectively, the bloodlust looks like a rehearsal for the 2024 general elections.

There’s nothing new about communal violence playing a role in polarising Indian society. The change is the brazenness of the state where courts look least interested in addressing the sickness while the government signals its support to fascist consolidation with a deafening silence. In this sense Indian communalism has shifted gear. State power has become its open ally. The suggestion that Muslims triggered the violence by attacking Ram Navami processions is disingenuous. This is the period of Ramazan when Muslims fast and congregate at mosques in piety. Hindu and Muslim festivals have coincided all the time in India. Holi and Eid milan celebrations were often bracketed together for everyone to join in. A Sikh gurdwara in Dubai hosts the iftar for fasting Muslims where all are welcome. This syncretic celebration of India is, however, not a great help to the BJP’s divisive agenda. Communalism is its meat and bread, even if it selectively projects preference for vegetarianism. The latest violence cannot be called Hindu-Muslim rioting. The upsurge is part of the state’s attack on India’s cultural mosaic with a sinister political intent.