If bellicose Hindutva is left uncheckedtext_fields
It was last Friday that the Central government voiced strong protest at the mention about India in the 2021 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, released by the US State Department. The report had stated that during 2021, there were extensive killing of and attacks against Muslim and Christian minorities in India. The spokesman of India's Ministry of External Affairs came out with scathing criticism about it which had highlighted discriminatory and hate-mongering remarks made by many including ministers and top officials. The spokesman reminded that as a plural society, India respects religious freedom and human rights, and reminded the US that it did not have a highly creditable record in racial discrimination. But before the heat settled on these arguments and counter arguments, the Central government found itself caught in a situation wherein its own leaders invited global flak by their blasphemous remarks; Left with no choice the government had to save its face by skillful situation management.
On May 26, during an evening debate on 'Times Now' channel, the BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma spoke to the Muslim participant in provocative language degrading the Prophet, Islam and the Holy Quran. The BJP leader's vitriol had no relation to the discussion of the channel on whether what was discovered in the wuzu khana (ablution pool) in the Gyanvapi mosque was a Shiv linga or part of a fountain. This was followed by the act of BJP's Delhi media wing head Naveen Kumar Jindal who tweeted the same comments reiterating the sangh parivar mind-set. But the sacrilegious comments made in the name of insulting Indian Muslims were soon getting out of hand. Countries including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Egypt came out with protests against India. Coinciding with the visit of Vice President Venkaiah Naidu in Qatar, the Qatari Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs summoned Indian Ambassador and conveyed the protest in person. In Egypt and Saudi, hashtag campaigns on Twitter reached their climax. Many even used social media to call for boycott of Indian products. All this forced the ruling party to wriggle itself out of the quagmire, by denouncing the racial hate campaign and suspending those who spewed venom from the party.
It is not unusual for such expressions of hate emanating from the sangh parivar camp and their political arm, the BJP, intended to brand Muslims as an internal threat and for effacing their name and symbols from the country's landscape. It is especially so in an ambience where public voices against their religious hatred and communalism get thinner by the day, and the imperative for defence against Hindutva's hate campaign becomes the burden only of its victims. Sadly enough, no significant or collective counter voice is being heard from among the Hindu religion against this politics of extermination with political motives marked by a mixing of Hinduism with nationalism and the country's culture. Nor is there any strong, organised opposition in the public domain against HIndutva with the latter's march forward by demolishing Babri Masjid, by extorting constitutional rights of Muslim, Christian, Dalit, tribal and backward classes. Not only that, on most such occasions attempts were made to give lectures to minorities on constitutional and secular values. The general community that had vociferously spoken for the protection of Babri Masjid until its actual demolition, and who condemned the mean act and raised a demand for rebuilding the masjid at the same spot where the demolition took place at the hands of the HIndutva kar sevaks, was missing thereafter. What eventually came of them became clear with the court verdict that allotted the entire disputed land for a Ram temple. Thus unhindered and with no force to tame it, the sangh parivar juggernaut is advancing with bellicose schemes to capture Qutub Minar and Taj Mahal right upto the masjid in south India's Sreerangapattanam. Muslim names are being erased. Overt and covert attempts are being made to see Muslims as second class citizens, expel them from their land and curtail their livelihoods one by one. By making the country's largest minority irrelevant, their doors to legislative assemblies and parliament are also being shut. Even the nominal Muslims of their own party are kept away from parliament in the process of the party itself becoming Muslim-free. If this move to decimate Muslims at any cost is let loose, the Hindus may enjoy a temporary gratification of suppression, but the loss it will cause to the country needs to be pondered over seriously. And that is what recent unpleasant events force people to worry about. If violence-prone Hindutva is not reined in, that will bring to an end the India as it exists now. For that very reason, the democratic, secular forces of the country have to take it as their urgent duty to recognise this and make a strong, effective defence against it.