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India: Communal riots

Tuesday 4 April 2023, by siawi3


Communal riots


Published April 4, 2023 Updated about 6 hours ago

COMMUNAL violence during religious events, particularly processions, has a long history in the subcontinent, with incidents dating back to the colonial era. However, in modern India, especially under the BJP’s watch, religious processions have been weaponised by the Sangh Parivar to terrorise Muslims. This seems to have been the case during the religious riots of the past few days linked to the Hindu festival of Ram Navami. While the violence has principally affected Bihar and West Bengal, rioting has also been reported in Maharashtra and UP. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has held the BJP responsible for the trouble witnessed in her state, while Home Minister Amit Shah — not exactly known for his outreach to minority communities — has promised to “hang rioters upside down”. It is unclear whom the minister is referring to; members of India’s beleaguered Muslim community, or his fellow travellers in the Sangh who more often than not light the fires of communal frenzy.

The pattern behind religious violence linked to processions is a common one. Hindu extremists, who are often armed, provocatively march though Muslim neighbourhoods and stop outside mosques to blast Hindutva war songs, and raise the slogan of ‘Jai Shri Ram’. If charged Muslims respond to the provocations, havoc ensues, as has been the case over the past few days. Numerous videos from the trouble spots present terrifying evidence of the bullying and violence Hindutva’s shock troops are subjecting India’s minorities to. In such circumstances, the state would be expected to intervene and put an end to provocative actions carried out in the name of religion. But not so under the BJP’s Hindutva sarkar. Unfortunately, many of the leading lights of India’s ruling party have had an instrumental role in egging on anti-Muslim mobs, and in fact, have been playing this dubious game for decades. In many of India’s worst communal massacres, the BJP, RSS or others linked to the Hindutva stable have had a central role. Sadly, there are two Indias; one the ‘shining’ India of PR campaigns, the other a country where armed Hindutva mobs prowl the streets, invade Muslim neighbourhoods and taunt members of the community until a confrontation ensues. This is a dark time for India’s minorities. As little action can be expected from New Delhi, the opposition and civil society must raise a louder voice against this communal madness.