Human Rights Watch has warned that Muslims in India have been increasingly at risk since the BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi was first elected in 2014.
Boris Johnson has been urged to speak out against Islamophobia and the persecution of Muslims in India, during his trip to the country.
The prime minister is currently on a visit to India, where he has been talking trade and investment but hasn’t said much about the persecution of minorities under the BJP’s Hindu-nationalist government led by Narendra Modi.
The BJP has been accused of passing laws that discriminate against Muslims, with Human Rights Watch stating that Muslims in India have been increasingly at risk since the BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi was first elected in 2014.
For example, in December 2019, the Modi government passed the discriminatory Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). Under the act, for the first time in India, religion became a basis for granting citizenship. The law specifically fast-tracked asylum claims of non-Muslim immigrants from the neighbouring Muslim-majority countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
Since the BJP first took office, its leaders have repeatedly made Hindu nationalist and anti-Muslim remarks in their speeches and interviews. In one example, the BBC highlighted how ‘in the southern city of Hyderabad, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker – who was banned by Facebook in 2020 for hate speech – sang a song with lyrics that said anyone who didn’t chant Hindu deity Ram’s name would be forced to leave India soon.’
In 2019, a fact-checker website (2019) that counted “hate crimes” in India reported that more than 90% of victims in the past 10 years were Muslims. The report highlighted how ‘unprovoked attacks on Muslims by Hindu mobs have become routine in India, but they seem to evoke little condemnation from the government.’
Prime minister Modi of India has also been criticised for being too slow to condemn the lynching of Muslims by so called ‘cow vigilantes’ over rumours that they had eaten beef.
Even as Covid-19 gripped the country, officials from Modi’s party, including his ministers, accused Muslim men of engaging in ‘corona Jihad’ and spreading the virus deliberately.
Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim majority region, was subjected to the longest internet shutdown in any democracy after Modi’s government revoked the region’s autonomous status.
Labour MP Naz Shah is among those who has called on Boris Johnson to raise the issue of Islamophobia in India with prime minister Modi. She tweeted in a thread: “My message to
@BorisJohnson on his visit to India is that our nation’s foreign relations must not just be based on trade & internationalism but also on human rights.
“My plea to the @10DowningStreet is to raise the growing issue of Islamophobia with the Modi Government.
“The rising tide of everyday hate & mob lynching against Muslims in India is becoming worrying. Dr Gregory Stanton who warned of early signs of genocide in Rwanda has now stated “There are early signs and processes of genocide” in India & Kashmir.
“Muslims beaten, threatened of rape and lynched has become a norm in India. In 2019, a fact-checker website (2019) that counted “hate crimes” in India reported that more than 90% of victims in the past 10 years were Muslims. Despite the police rounding up & beating innocent Muslims, authorities bulldozing Muslim-owned homes & armed Hindu nationalists rallying outside mosques.
“The response from the Home Minister is, “If Muslims carry out… attacks, then they should not expect justice.
“There are countless examples of mobs calling for the open RAPE of Muslim women.”
Shah added: “We must not forget the grave situation of human rights in Indian-administered Kashmir. The revocation of Article 370, international black-outs, mass unmarked graves, Kashmir’s half-widows & the people of Kashmir deserve their voices heard.
“We have a historic duty to Kashmir.
“I ask @BorisJohnson when the alarm bells of genocide, the daily lynching of Muslims, calls for rape of Muslim women & the systematic nature Islamophobia in India is being normalised, as someone who claims to be a champion of human rights, will you raise these issues with PM Modi?”
Johnson has also been criticised for posing at a JCB factory in India, while a row rages in the country over the company’s bulldozers being used to raze Muslim-owned properties in New Delhi.
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward
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