Islamophobia in India

By: Humza Shaikh

       Since the early years of human history, people of different faiths and cultures have been able to live peacefully in the Indian subcontinent.Even after the partition, India was one of the most diverse nations in the world. In recent times, India’s secular and inclusive roots are being threatened. The rise of the right wing ultra-nationalist BJP party has led to increased religious intolerance in India.The BJP’s polices are pushing India towards a very islamophobic and unfriendly path.

       What is the BJP? The Bharatiya Janata Party is now India’s largest political party. Their leader Narendra Modi is the current Prime Minister of India. The BJP rose to prominence in the late 90’s. They are extremely right-wing and have very nationalistic views. Many BJP supporters and members believe that India is a state for Hindus and not other religious minorities. This coincides with their feelings of Hindu nationalism. Since the 90’s the BJP pushed for deportation of illegal immigrants and many were deported. In 2014 after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister the BJP held a lot of power in Indian politics. Not long after Modi’s reelection in 2018 the BJP pushed for the annexation of Kashmir and the passing of the CAA. Both where extremely abhorrent moves that shows the nationalistic and islamaphobic nature of the BJP.

       Since 1947, Kashmir has been given special status in India. It was an autonomous territory. Non-kashmiris could not settle there or buy land in J&K. Kashmiris weren’t free but many were content with the special status as it meant no one could enter Kashmir and claim it as their own. This all changed when India decided to annex Kashmir. Annexing means to forcibly claim a land as yours. The annexation revoked special status and has led to a migration of Hindus to J&K. Which could throw off the demographics of the area. Currently it is the only Indian territory or state that has a muslim majority. This could change if Hindu migration keeps occurring. Following the annexation, Kashmir was put into martial law and nearly 700,000 troops are in the region terrorizing and oppressing the people of J&K. The annexation of Kashmir was the first of two big moves by the BJP. The second one was the passing of the CAA. The annexation and occupation is extremely similar to what is being done to Palestine by Israeli forces.

       In India there are millions of illegal migrants from neighboring nations of Bangladesh, Myanmar,and Afghanistan. They come to India for a variety of reasons including to seek protection and for economic opportunity. The BJP pushed for the CAA in 2019. The CAA gave millions of undocumented Indians citizenship, unless they were muslim. This shocked the world. India’s constitution had never excluded anyone based on religion. Nations around the world criticized India for such a discriminatory bill. Modi’s government anti-islamic mindset had never been so clear. The passing of the CAA was met with widespread protests throughout the nation. In Delhi, these protests were followed by extremely violent riots that took the lives of nearly 50 people. Most of the violence was against muslims, but all faiths lost their lives in the violence. Prime Minister Narendra Modi stayed quiet during the riot for nearly three days. He didn’t intervene or try to stop it in any way. After 3 days of nonstop violence in Delhi Modi finally intervened and sent troops to maintain peace. Violence like this was avoidable and could’ve been stopped at an early stage, but due to the nature of the BJP government the riots waged on for days.

       It is clear that the BJP’s intentions are to create an islamophobic India. At nearly 300 million or 20% of the population muslims make up a significant minority in India. India’s BJP party is playing a dangerous game by openly discriminating against its largest minority group. If the BJP keeps its control over India further racism and conflict is unavoidable. In order for India to return to it’s secular roots the BJP must be ousted or they must seriously reform a lot of their policies. Until then, political instability and islamophobia will plague india.

References

Ellis-Petersen, Hannah. “India Strips Kashmir of Special Status and Divides It in Two.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 31 Oct.                           2019, www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/31/india-strips-kashmir-of-special-status-and-divi des-it-in-two.

Swart, Mia. “Does CAA Comply with India's Human Rights Obligations?” News | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 30 Mar. 2020,

                 www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/holdstopping-stateless-challenge-india-citizenship-law -200312071917304.html.

Frayer, Lauren. “Delhi Riots Aftermath: 'How Do You Explain Such Violence?'.” NPR, NPR, 7 Mar. 2020,       

                  www.npr.org/2020/03/07/812193930/delhi-riots-aftermath-how-do-you-explain-such-violence