India's Muslim community torn apart amid rising communal violence

By Qing Ming (People's Daily Online) 17:03, May 20, 2022

Delhi sees communal violence between Hindus and Muslims. (Photo/CGTN)

When a parade of Hindus was marching through the streets of Delhi's Jahangirpuri area on April 16, in celebration of Hanuman Jayanti, a Hindu religious festival, a mob of Hindu extremists within the procession suddenly turned violent. Dressing in saffron, the "official" color of Hindu nationalism, and shouting communal slogans, the mob vandalized private and public properties and threw bottles and saffron flags inside mosques, leaving behind a community enraged, shattered, and burned.

The Jahangirpuri violence, together with a series of attacks in three other Indian states that it subsequently ignited, marked the latest episode of India's mounting communal tensions. It also spotlighted the incessant hatred and violence that India's 200 million Muslims are subjected to in the country.

The Guardian noted that India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has adopted a hardline attitude towards Muslims, has been blamed for the increasingly irreconcilable Hindu-Muslim enmity in the nation. In an article headlined 'Hatred, bigotry and untruth': communal violence grips India, The Guardian pointed out that "The BJP is accused of overseeing a religiously divisive agenda and emboldening hostility towards India's 200m Muslims, relegating them to second-class citizens."

Local BJP officials have also been at the receiving end of criticism for providing momentum to the violence in Jahangirpuri as well as similar bouts of communal violence. According to the Times of India, nationwide, BJP officials have staged a so-called "anti-encroachment drive," in which Muslims have been widely targeted, with their homes, properties, and businesses being brutally demolished—often by bulldozers.

In tandem with the unrelenting communal violence in India, an avalanche of pictures, videos, and reports portraying the cruelty of the "anti-encroachment drive" have surfaced. Hundreds of homes and slums in largely Muslim neighborhoods have been razed to the ground overnight, rendering women and the elderly homeless. Tea stalls, fruit stands, and food vendors, which had been operated peacefully at urban corners for years, now have been smashed by rumbling bulldozer machines, as highlighted in a recent report published in Foreign Policy.

The anti-encroachment drive and rising communal violence in India are not isolated cases, as in the shadows, the Hindu extremists have been fermented and emboldened by the campaign, while reciprocally, the demolition drive is deployed in an act of retaliation against Muslims, according to an analysis by the Washington Post.

Ruben Banerjee, an Indian author and journalist also highlighted in his article entitled In India's battle for Hindu supremacy, the bulldozer is its newest weapon, that "By selectively targeting the country's Muslims, the ruling far-right BJP appeases its core Hindu base." "With the ruling BJP standing to gain so much in the immediate term, Indian Muslims are unlikely to be shown any mercy any time soon," he concluded.

Related Reading: With Hindu extremism growing unchecked, India is on the edge of a precipice: media

The fresh cut in India's old communal wounds has not only received very little response from the Indian government, but also just got lukewarm reviews from the world. Citing the intolerable abyss endured by India's Muslims, especially among Muslim women, Rana Ayyub, a journalist with the Washington Post, wrote on May 12 that India "is engulfed in a fire of Hindu supremacy," a situation that has become "so fraught that Gregory Stanton, the founder and director of Genocide Watch, has warned India could be on the cusp of a genocide against Muslim citizens."

"But where is the response from the international community?" she asked. 

(Web editor: Meng Bin, Hongyu)


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