New Delh

Bullets Not Biryani

The world has turned a blind eye to the state-sponsored atrocities and genocide being perpetrated by Hindu fundamentalists on Muslims in India.

By Ambassador Naghmana Naheed Hashmi | March 2023

Inspired by Narendra Modi’s policy of hate, otherization, exclusion and fanaticism, his blind followers are playing havoc with the hapless minorities of India, particularly the Muslims. The Hinduization of India is nearly complete and Modi’s ethno-nationalist rule is unravelling the country’s constitutional commitment to its Muslim, Christian and other minorities.

At the time of Independence from British rule in 1947 when India drafted its constitution, one of the key elements was secularism. Secularism in India is defined to mean that “the state will not identify itself with or be controlled by any religion” and that the state “guarantees everyone the right to profess whatever religion one chooses to follow without preferential treatment to any of them.” It was this guarantee of secularism and equal rights that convinced a large number of Muslims to stay in India after the establishment of Pakistan. Today India has become a country where Hindu nationalism is dominating and the prophetic warning of Quaid-i-Azam sends a chill down the spine- that those Muslims opting to stay in India will spend the rest of their lives justifying their loyalty to India and that the Muslims will always be subservient to the Hindus.

India is supposedly the world’s largest democracy with 1.3 billion people, of whom 80% are Hindu, 14% Muslim and remaining from other religious denominations. The Indian government, currently led by Hindu nationalists, is violating the constitutional requirement of secularism by systemically discriminating against and threatening the identity of all minorities but more specifically that of the 138 million Muslim minority.

With new fronts of populism grounded in an anti-Muslim stance led by PM Modi himself, attacks against minorities have surged. From being harassed on the street by hateful mobs for any visible identity markers to now being slammed with laws that criminalise public appearance of Muslimness, the very existence of Indian Muslims is being erased from the cultural ethos of their country. Hindutva, the central ideology of the ruling party of India, cannot be drained from its religious character. Hindutva, or Hindu Nationalism, is a deeply territorial and racial idea of citizenship. To use the words of the founder of this ideology, “To be a Hindu means a person who sees this land, from the Indus River to the sea, as his country but also as his Holy Land,” according to which Muslims and Christians are forever seen as outsiders with no real claim to citizenship.

Hindu nationalists have believed that Hinduism is the core component of Indian identity, and they have sought to enforce this belief through political means challenging the Secular Constitution of India. A Hindu nationalist once wrote that India should model its approach to its “Muslim problem” on what the Nazis used to deal with their “Jewish problem.” It is this belief of the far right BJP and its partner and militant wing the RSS that has guided their politics and extreme promotion of Hindutva, an ideology which seeks “to define Indian culture in terms of Hindu values.” The BJP therefore, targets Muslims as the source of all Hindus’ troubles. They call Muslims termites who should be thrown into the Bay of Bengal, and their party slogan is to “Feed them [Muslims] bullets, not Biryani.”

Since Modi came to power, anti-Muslim sentiments, hate crimes, and discriminatory legislation have been at an all-time high, driven both by citizens and the government itself. Approximately 90% of religious hate crimes have occurred under Modi’s government. Among countless discriminatory actions and statements, there have been three prominent political strategies that have increased religious polarization and directly threatened Muslims’ identity and status in India: the Citizenship Amendment Act, the stripping of citizenship in Assam State, and the violation of autonomy in the Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir region.

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