It is India, not Pakistan, that is the most dangerous place for religious minorities

The day of July 12 was unfortunate and dreadful for a Muslim family of 10 including women, children, elders and a handicapped teenager who were cruelly attacked in a train and robbed by a gang of 30-35 men between Mota and Nibkarori railway stations in Uttar Pradesh’s Mainpuri district in India. The horrendous incident occurred when the family was on its way back from attending a marriage ceremony. The reason the family was assaulted inhumanly for was that it belonged to the Muslim minority.

According to one of the members of the family, 53-year-old Muhammad Shakir, who suffered severe head injury in the attack, “It was an unforgettable horror. Some in the attacking group said, ‘Kill them, they are Muslims’ and they kept beating us until we went unconscious.” Horrified by the attack he added, “The group attacked us with iron rod, robbed our belongings and molested our women.”Arsaan, 22, son of Shakir, told the media ” The assailants groped my mother and sister, tore their blouse and shalwar and snatched their gold jewelry.”

The fact is that the angry and poisonous behavior of Hindu extremists with Muslims is the product of seeds of antagonism sown over 70 years after the violent partition, and those seeds have been transferred from generation to generation. Since Partition, the mistrusted and hostile relations of India-Pakistan, which caused wars, terrorism and repeated failures to normalize relations, have furthered anger and detestation among their people for one another.

After Partition, the first massive Hindu-Muslim violence occurred in 1961 in Jabalpur, and Madhya Pradesh after a Hindu girl was allegedly raped by a Muslim boy. This unfortunate incident was followed by the unleashing of ferocious violence against Muslim minority on various pretexts such as cow slaughter, dishonouring women, and religious processions. The catastrophic incidents including Ahmedabad in 1969, Meerut Malyana, Bhivandi-Malegaon, Bhagalpur, Kanykumari and again Ahmedabad in 1980 and 1990 and Gujarat in 2002 were among major violence against Muslim community in India.

India is a constitutional democracy and a secular state, as claimed by its citizens, but the existing ground realties reveal everything in opposite to the claim. The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu warrior-priest, has called Indian Muslims “a crop of two-legged animals that has to be stopped” and cried at one rally, “We are all preparing for religious war.” One can easily understand from these words how much religious fanaticism prevails in the so-called secular India. In Pakistan, there are many religio-political fanatics, and religious minorities are made victim of violence, but no single instance of such venomous statement against any minority can be found in the country’s history. Moreover, the Bharatiya Janata Party government interferes with people’s dietary habits and religious beliefs. Hindu religion governs the Indian nation. The BJP government enforcing religious extremist policies has banned beef and propagated cow vigilantism. The beef banning law in BJP leading states has empowered extremist Hindu Brahminical nationalist groups to bring about cow vigilantism in India. Muslims and Dalits are first accused of possession of cow beef and then are lynched to death ruthlessly.

In the contemporary world, there may be hardly any country where religious minorities are not made victim of violence. In Pakistan, on the pretext of blasphemy, religious minorities are targeted and lynched. But India is the most dangerous place for religious minorities, especially for Muslim minority, where every week angry mobs lynch, torture and humiliate innocent Muslims to protect the sacred held animal, cow.

In June, 2017, 16-year-old Junaid Khan was brutally lynched and stabbed to death on Delhi-Mathura train by a mob who accused him and his companions of carrying beef in their bags. Another Muslim, Alimuddin Ansari of Jharkhand was beaten up by a mob on the suspicion of carrying beef. The same way, Muhammad Naeem, the father of three children, in Shobhapur and Muhammad Akhlaq in Dadri were lynched on the pretext of cow protection. They are not the only victims of lynching in the name of cow, but they are the latest examples of oppression on minorities in India. Since 2010, several heart-rending incidents of the vicious lynching have occurred in India. Reportedly, 86 percent of the victims of these organized crimes are Muslims and 97 percent of the reported cow-related attacks have happened after Narendera Modi, a fundamentalist Hindu, became prime minister in 2014.

The cruel silence of the Indian state and society against heinous crimes of lynching people of minorities committed by extremist beef-protectors for allegedly carrying or possessing beef and for accused blasphemous actions reveals that actions of lynching are justified that they have right to violate the law if someone offends their religious beliefs. Therefore, it can be concluded that both the state and society are involved in these vicious actions, supporting them legally and morally.

To prove that India is secular democracy in true sense, the Modi government has to take grass root steps to create peaceful environment in South Asia, finishing Hindu-Muslim tensions, repealing the beef policy, setting up minority sensitive government, showing respect for other religions, establishing peaceful and friendly relations with Pakistan and bringing Kashmir issue to the table.

To revive India’s dead old slogan “unity in diversity” all of the secular minded Hindus should strongly condemn the violence against India’s all religious minorities, including Muslims, committed by the cold-blooded extremist Hindus. They should show sympathy for those lynched and express unity with all of the minorities generally and with Muslims particularly.

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