By Syed Atiq ul Hassan
Officially India is a secular country but is it really a secular country today, this is the million-dollar question for the world now.
India is a country of 200 million Muslims, still the largest minority after the separation of Pakistan in 1947 as an Islamic State, yet India learned no lesson from the history. Islamic practices of Muslims have been targeted in India especially since Modi government of BJP came into power. In one of the main Indian states, Utter Pradesh (UP), the Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, of Bharatyia Janta Party (BJP) – a Hindu extremist religious party – is an extremist Hindu Monk. Muslims are being beaten to death if they are found eating beef in UP. Historical mosques and Islamic centres are being demolished by Hindu extremists in the protection of the government. Yogi Adityanath, wants to eliminate Muslims and their identities from UP. He has changed the Muslim names of roads, public venues, names of cities and suburbs in UP. This is an extreme example of religious extremism and repression of minorities through a government’s manifest.
Unfortunately, all BJP top leadership either came from Hindu extremist groups such as RSS or keep affiliations with them.
Recently, while commenting on Pakistan’s profile, Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat said that Pakistan should be a secular state to have better ties with India. Either Indian Army chief was unaware of the conditions of minorities in India, particularly of the largest minority Muslims or he was just pretending to be ignorant with the ground realities of India.
India are officially a secular state with over 70 percent of different Hindu faiths and the remaining a mixture of different religions. Therefore, to maintain a secular profile of India, every Indian government must intact the secular status of India as per the constitution with equal rights and religious freedom for every citizen. Nevertheless, this is not happening in India now. The ruling party BJP – a Hindu-Religious party – is failed to provide safety, justice and religious freedoms to the Indian Muslims instead systematically, following her party manifesto, spending government’s resources on forcibly converting Muslims to become Hindu.
Not only in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh or Chattisgarh, the anti-Muslim campaign of ruling BJP government is going on all over India as a part of their agenda for the next general election in 2019. The Indian government reportedly plans to drop from a citizenship registration list of hundreds of thousands of Bengali-speaking Muslims in the northeastern border state of Assam. If the ruling BJP continues to play the (Hindu) religious card in Indian politics as per party agenda in the next coming election and beyond the insecurity among Indian Muslims will further escalate and that will create another Pakistan-like movement as an ultimate option for Indian Muslims. If the victimisations of minorities, particularly Muslims continue and backed by the ruling party, India will not be able to protect its borders and will lead to the disintegration.
India must not forget that the Indian Muslims are a part of a global Islamic world containing of 57 countries. India has 2 great nation of Muslims in Pakistan and Bangladesh on its West and East borders where Pakistan is a nuclear state. The on-going state-sponsored terrorism against Muslims in Kashmir through army operation is already presenting a horrifying image of Indian so-called secularism to the world. According to many international human rights reports more than 100,000 Kashmiris have been tortured to death in Kashmir in the 50 years or so. Thousands of women and children have been raped. Hundreds and thousands are dislocated. Demonstrations in many international cities of Kashmiris for their freedom from India are now gaining momentum at their heights and the world is watching very closely.
The Sikh Punjabi community in East Pakistan which has historical cultural and linguistic relations with the largest province of Pakistan, are also not happy with the BJP government. The Sikh’s Khalistan movement is slowly cooking up again especially overseas in, Canada, USA and UK, by overseas Sikh community.
Then there are other separatists’ movements like Assamese nationalism, Bodo nationalism, Naga nationalism, Sikh nationalism, Tamil nationalism, Tripuri nationalism, rights of the Dalit minorities exist in India.
The geo-politics of Indian subcontinent authenticates that the injustices and discrimination based on religion was the ultimate outcome of the division of united India and the creation of Pakistan in 1947. The historical facts of the last century reflect that the illiteracy, poverty, lack of basic opportunities, growing population with decreasing resources, are the main symptoms of the religion extremism and hatred which deliver opportunities to their political pundits to divert the problems into social divisions on the name of religion, race, and other sectarian elements for their own vested interests.
It is a fact that in over one-billion population of India, mixture of various faiths, casts and creed, possess centuries’ old living-relations. Nevertheless, when extremists are born in a society then this is the job of the government, law enforcement agencies and justice system to eliminate those extremists indiscriminately. If India wants to retain its image in the world as a secular nation India must provide equal rights to all minority communities particularly to the Indian Muslim. Therefore, in the current critical situation the sensible people of India before choosing their leaders and parties in coming elections must think twice why and who they are giving votes.
Here, it should be acknowledged that many open and secular minded members of the civil society, journalists, writers, intellection, activities and social scientist are rejecting the victimisation of Indian Muslims by Hindu extremism. The human rights international organisations, UN and international establishment must listen to them and force Indian government stop the Hindu extremism in India. (The writer is a Sydney-based journalist, writer and a prominent community leader, his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org).