India’s laborious elections are about to catapult the Hindu fascists back into power with disastrous consequences for the 180 million Muslims there. Pity India’s minorities; Delhi is about to adopt Nazi policies yet will be feted by the West.
People in India are going through a laborious exercise popularly dubbed elections that will span six weeks from April 7 to May 12. In sheer numbers and time spent, these are impressive exercises but it is a far stretch to give it the fancy title of the “largest democracy” in the world at work. Killing political opponents, especially party workers, is routine as are two other features of life in India: corruption and blatant lies. This year a third element has been added to the election campaign. The presumed front-runner, Narendra Modi of the fascist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is running against Pakistan as well.
Giriraj Singh, the BJP candidate for Godda district of Jharkhand, told a party rally on April 19 that those who oppose his party’s leader to become prime minister will have “no place in India” and would be sent to Pakistan after the polls. “Those who want to stop Narendra Modi [from becoming prime minister] are looking towards Pakistan. In the coming days, they will have no place in India. They will only have place in Pakistan,” Singh thundered into the microphone as people cheered wildly.
Blaming Pakistan for all of India’s ills is a favourite ploy. It immediately arouses the jingoistic tendencies of exceptionalist Hindus. Hinduism itself is based on a caste pyramid atop which sit the Brahmins. At the lowest rung of this pyramid are people called Dalits. They used to be called untouchables. The dirtiest jobs — sweeping roads and cleaning toilets before the flush system was introduced in India — were reserved for these people. To this day, the Dalits cannot pull water from the same well as upper caste Hindus, nor can they eat in the same plate that others use, otherwise it would become “unclean.” This is religiously sanctioned apartheid but somehow Hindu racism has gone unnoticed in the world, especially in the India-doting West.
Muslims that constitute some 15% of India’s 1.2 billion people are apprehensive about their future in a country that has become increasingly intolerant toward minorities, especially Muslims. Modi has done little to dampen anti-Muslim sentiment; in fact, he has actively stoked hatred against them. He called Gujarat’s Muslims “Mian Musharraf,” playing on the twin names of Mian Nawaz Sharif, the current Pakistani prime minister, and the former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf.
Modi has built his reputation on two planks: anti-Muslim hatred, and the carefully-crafted myth that he has development Gujarat’s economy as its chief minister. The first has been part of India’s policy since before it gained independence. Blaming Pakistan and Muslims for all of India’s ills is a sure winner.
In February 2002, Modi unleashed Hindu terrorists on innocent Muslims following a fire in a train at Godhra station. Muslims were blamed for the fire but it later turned out that it had started from a fallen oil cooker inside one of the passenger carriages and quickly spread. At least 58 people died in the train disaster but Modi’s goons slaughtered more than 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat while he was chief minister and refused to allow the police to protect the innocent Muslim victims. Many of them were burned alive inside their homes or dragged out into the street, doused with kerosene and set on fire like Congress MP Ahsan Jafri. More than 400 Muslim women were raped before being set on fire.
The chief organizer of Modi’s campaign in the crucial Uttar Pradesh (UP) state, Amit Shah was barred through a court order last month from campaigning because he is charged with murder and a number of other crimes against Muslims. The order was later set aside but the accusations against Shah, a bull-necked thug, stand. Uttar Pradesh is an important state in India’s electoral contest because of its large Muslim population as well as being generally populous. The BJP strategy is predicated on dividing Muslims while appealing to Hindu chauvinism. In this, Modi has been quite successful making anti-Muslim racism respectable. Even leading Bollywood actors, among them Amitabh Bachchan ,have joined Modi’s anti-Muslim bandwagon. Bachchan is a popular film actor; he is past his prime but his hatred of Muslims has not subsided despite the fact that many Muslims even in Pakistan adore him. He is especially popular with the Pakistani secularists!
The BJP draws its strength from such Hindu Nazi outfits as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) (or National Patriotic Organization) and its militant offshoot Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP – Hindu World Council) and Abhinav Bharat (New India). The cadre of these outfits act as BJP’s storm troopers and belong to the same mother — the Sangh Parivar. They have attacked Christians, Dalits and Muslims, but the latter community is their special target.
They are also not above carrying out black-ops and blaming them on Muslims. The bombing campaigns from 2002 through 2008 were all carried out by members of these fascist outfits with the connivance of elements within the Indian army, but blamed on Muslims. India has a gory record of attacks on Muslims. On December 6, 1992 the historic Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was attacked and destroyed as part of a BJP plot. The Hindu fascist brigade was led by then BJP-leader L.K. Advani. Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpaye was aware of the dastardly plot but did nothing to prevent it.
It is, however, important to consider the events that unfolded during the attack on Mumbai’s Taj Hotel in November 2008. It was blamed on “Muslim terrorists” that apparently had sneaked in from Pakistan. Subsequent revelations have shown that Ajmal Kassab, the person accused of being the mastermind of the attack, had in fact been in Indian custody for the previous 15 months. How could he have been sent from Pakistan? Further light is shed on the manner in which a leading anti-terrorism investigator of India was killed.
Hemant Karkare, head of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) who traced the 2006 to 2008 terrorist attacks to BJP-affiliated groups was killed on November 26, 2008 during the Taj Hotel siege and murdered together with his assistant Ashok Kamte. He was lured into a trap toward Cam Hospital and shot at point blank range. This certainly was not the work of those that had assaulted and occupied the hotel. It is revealing that Karakare’s widow Kavita and Kamte’s widow Vinita, refused to accept condolence messages or compensation from the RSS or Modi. In fact, Modi had offered Rs 10 million in compensation to Karkare’s widow, Kavita. She refused to meet Modi as well as spurned his offer of money, holding him responsible for the death of her husband and those of his two colleagues, Ashok Kamte and Inspector Vijay Salaskar.
We must also examine Modi’s claim to transforming Gujarat’s economy and making it an engine for growth. Even Robert D. Kaplan of the American magazine Atlantic, could not resist blowing Modi’s trumpet and his “economic success” by opening multi-plex malls, financial probity and efficiency (April 2009). The Hindu fascists in India never tire of drum-beating about Modi’s “economic miracle.”
With its outlet to the Indian Ocean, Gujarat has always had trade advantage since time immemorial. Roads and transportation were a necessary requirement for trade to flourish as was law and order. Modi’s concept of law and order has meant keeping Muslims under the heel while giving free rein to his Hindu goons.
In order to attract investors to set up industries in Gujarat, Modi has given them land at throwaway prices displacing thousands of poor farmers off their lands. What investor would not jump at such an offer when millions can be saved in land acquisition alone? Crony capitalism took off like nowhere else in India spawning many dubious projects. Not surprisingly, parts of Gujarat have become highly polluted and a hazard to people’s health.
Modi is also a leading proponent of genetically modified (GM) crops. They have brought short-term benefits but farmers have discovered that GM crops run greater risks and are not such an attractive financial deal they had initially assumed.
On May 16, when Indians wake up, they may find a Modi-led government in power in Delhi but he is likely to sharpen rather than lessen the deep communal and caste divisions that have characterized Indian life for decades. This may be good for the chauvinism of the majority but India’s minorities — Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and Dalits — will be at the receiving end of the fascist Hindus’ non-existent mercies. If such chauvinism is allowed to flourish, Indians are bound to witness the break-up of their country. In fact, India’s geographical re-arrangement is long overdue. Modi may just be the man leading the saffron brigade to bring this about.