This article will appear in issue 37: Oppression and Resistance
Arundhati Roy, an Indian Author best known for her novel, The God of Small things, stated in an interview with DW news, that the conflict between Muslims and Hindus in India is ‘approaching genocidal.’ She emphasised the need to raise awareness of this issue, and how ‘it should not be taken lightly.’ From her interview, it can be inferred that the government has played a major role in the provocation of violence against Muslims, notably, under the governance of Hindu nationalist, Narendra Modi.
In 2001, Modi became the chief minister for Gujarat, he retained this position until 2014. On the 27th February 2002, a train with several hundred passengers set on fire near Godhra, killing around 60 people. The train carried a large number of Hindu pilgrims returning from a religious ceremony. In his public statement, Modi declared this to be a ‘terrorist attack’ planned and orchestrated by local Muslims, something which set the scene for the Gujarat riots. However, this was not the case for many. Martha Nussbaum summarises the scholarly thought of the time, stating: “There is by now a broad consensus that the Gujarat violence was a form of ethnic cleansing, that in many ways was premeditated, and that it was carried out with the complicity of the state government and officers of the law”. Whilst Modi’s personal involvement continues to be debated, it is not something you would consider implausible of him, especially with his ties to BJP and the RSS – political parties both associated with to right-wing Hindu nationalism. Clearly, fostering an environment of hate, like the British did in colonial times to ‘divide and conquer’ would successfully lead to this ‘nationalist country,’ they so desire.
Since the Gujarat riots in 2001, and under the presidency of Narendra Modi there has been a rise in Anti-Muslim protests. More recently, in 2020, was the violence in India’s capital, Delhi. This massacre of Muslims was the aftermath of a Hindu nationalist rampage, stoked by the rhetoric of Narendra Modi’s populist government. 43 Muslims were killed, beaten, bruised, lynched, and burnt alive. This is clearly an alarming political climate, which highlights the intensity of the crisis. It also calls into question the silence of many politicians who shake hands with Modi, yet remain silent on the more pressing issues hidden beneath s Statesman’s façade.
Lastly, Arundhati Roy mentions that amidst this struggles posed by Covid-19, the government of India are using the virus ‘like the Nazi’s used Typhus against the Jews’ – to ‘ghettoise’ Muslims and to ‘stigmatise them’ further. To this day, Muslims are still being persecuted and marginalised in India. In an India where there was once harmony between Muslims and Hindus now lies turmoil.
Image: Money Sharma/AFP Via GETTY IMAGES