An Indian path to genocide

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Sahil Yar Muhammad
The term ‘genocide’ is used and perceived in many ways with varying criteria on what passes on as genocide. It depends on the individual but in this article, the meaning will be that of the common understanding among scholars and academics; ‘the deliberate killing of a large group of people belonging to a specific ethnicity, race, religion or nationality’. India is home to multiple religions, ethnicities, races, etc, out of which the predominant are the Hindus making up 79% of the population. Other minorities which are also quite considerable in number are Muslims who make up 14.2% of the population, Christians 2.3%, Sikhs 1.72% and other minorities as well. Since independence, India’s
history has been quite complex. One of the greatest icons of independence as well as peace, Mahatama Gandhi was killed by a Hindu fanatic. The country’s only women Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was killed by a Sikh. In India, Sikhs have met their fair share of persecution at the hands of the state. Hindu extremist groups have targeted other minorities like Christians and Dalits. However, the real beef was with the Muslims. The complex history as well as emergence of Hindu nationalism. These factors among
others contributed much to tilt India toward its present path, the path of genocide. Many individuals across the world as well as even Muslims within India disagree with this notion. The argument is that thesituation is not as bad as being portrayed and question how it would be possible to kill more than 200 million people. A valid argument if they had not overlooked one very important point, genocides do not happen overnight. It is as the celebrated Indian writer Arundhati Roy said during an interview with Mehdi Hassan on the Intercept, “Any expert on history of genocide will tell you that genocide isn’t something that just happens one Sunday morning. There is a huge cultural preparation where a
community is dehumanized, profiled (etc).” If we just turn a discerning eye towards history, we will start to see it. Excluding the Hindu-Muslims riots of 1947, the first time when the state was used against the Muslims was when the Indian military was deployed to Indian side of Kashmir to put down an insurgency against the Indian rule. Now there is little need to mention how many bodies were buried, how many people are missing as in not really sure if they are even alive, how many loved ones had to cry, how many atrocities were committed, everyone knows it. However, the point to be made here is that the military in Kashmir was the first time when state powers were unleashed upon a specific
community. Furthermore, it need not be mentioned how above the law the defenders of the state were in Kashmir during that time and even now. The scope widened when in 2002, Muslims weremassacred in the Indian state of Gujrat when Hindu extremists ruthlessly killed innocent Muslims. In addition to that horrifying event, the Chief Minister at the time who is also the incumbent Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi did not do so much as order law enforcement agencies to stop theviolence or even act against the extremists and bring them to justice. Kashmir is considered anautonomous region with only a select few areas like defense, foreign affairs and communication in the hands of the central government. However, Gujrat was India’s own territory, the Muslims there were
full citizens whom were protected by India’s secular constitution. Fast forwarding to 2014, the ground realities hit a new low with cases of violence against minorities rising. Muslims were beaten up, tortured, brutally murdered. The killings in some cases were over beef consumption or even suspected beef consumption. Destruction and vandalizing of mosques also happened with not even a whisper of condemnation from the BJP government. But it did not stop there. After the 2019 elections and before the municipal elections, the BJP did not even make an attempt to mask the hostility and hatred towards Muslims. Party candidates like Kapil Mishra openly and publicly in front of mass gatherings in Delhi and
elsewhere passing appalling comments. The comments incited violence, such a scenario was seen perhaps the first time in India’s history. The BJP also made changes to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). Never has there been a bill in India’s history which so starkly targeted a minority as the CAB. Let’s not forget to mention the words of a sitting Home Minister Amit Shah calling Muslim migrants, “termites”. Work on detention camps have already started. The workers, some whom are Muslims cannot help but wonder whether they will also be
detained there as well. Then we have the peaceful protests to the controversial bill. The police brutalities on university students were there for everyone to see. Despite the protestors not having broken any law and most of whom were Muslims is reminiscent of this path which India is treading. Then there is also the vigilante violence against Muslims in the northeast of Delhi. The Police were complicit after the BJP lost the elections there. All of this was happening as the leader of the free world was at a 100,000 packed stadium in Ahmedabad. The Covid-19 did not help, Muslims were advertised by the government as well as mainstream media as super spreaders of Corona. Tales of Corona Jihad were
told by BJP Member of Parliament Anantkumar Hegde on Facebook. A gathering of the Tableeghi Jamaat of Islam was going on when PM Modi announced the lockdown. So, when the lockdown came into effect, they were still gathered in a limited space having a large number. Hence, the term ‘corona spreader’ as members of the Tableeghi Jamaat were tracked and tested. Of course, the statistics would show a higher number of infections. All this despite there being even bigger gatherings in Hindu temples. This situation is quite similar to when the Nazis used the typhus disease to stigmatize Jews. It is
frightening that the Indian government is using the coronavirus to stigmatize Muslims.Keeping in mind these chains of events, it leaves little doubt as to the direction India is heading. Anyone would want to hope against hope that the situation in India will get better. Hope that it regains its secular status if it ever was one as the world’s biggest democracy making it safe to live there for the millions of minorities. However, as much as we would like to believe India will get better, the ground realties says something
different. The ball is in the world’s court now. It is up to international community whether they want to keep things as they are or take some action. Dissuading India to prevent it from this incession on the path of genocide seems to be a plausible option. Unless, if the world would be happy to witness the biggest crisis in human history. Then it is another matter entirely. Hopefully, many of us are wrong.

(-The writer is a student of International Relations studying at Islamabad.)