Over the previous few months, authorities in Indian states ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Occasion (BJP) have began bulldozing the properties, outlets, and locations of enterprise that belong to Muslims merely suspected of collaborating in anti-government protests. The Chief Ministers of those states have proudly flaunted this coverage of their election campaigns.
To my thoughts, this marks the second when a deeply flawed, fragile democracy has transitioned – brazenly and openly – right into a felony, Hindu-fascist enterprise with great fashionable assist. We now seem like dominated by gangsters fitted out as Hindu godmen. Of their ebook, Muslims are public enemy primary.
Up to now, Muslims have been punished with pogroms, lynchings, focused murders, custodial killings, faux police “encounters” and imprisonment beneath false pretexts. Bulldozing their properties and companies is just a brand new – and extremely efficient – weapon added to this listing.
Within the methods by which this phenomenon is being reported and written about, the bulldozer has been invested with a kind of divine, avenging energy. This menacing machine with its large steel claw that’s used to “crush the enemy”, is being portrayed as a mechanical, comic-strip model of a legendary God slaying demons. It has grow to be the talisman of the brand new, avenging, Hindu nation. Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson posed subsequent to 1 throughout his latest go to to India – it’s arduous to consider that he didn’t know precisely what he was doing and who he was endorsing. Why else would a head of state do one thing as weird as posing with a bulldozer throughout a state go to?
For his or her half, authorities authorities insist they aren’t focusing on Muslims and are merely demolishing illegally constructed properties. A kind of municipal clean-up mission. That reasoning, in fact, isn’t even meant to be convincing. It’s meant as mockery, and to instil terror. The authorities and most Indians know that many of the building in each Indian city and metropolis is both unlawful or quasi-legal.
Bulldozing Muslim properties and companies for purely punitive causes with out discover, and not using a probability of an attraction or a listening to achieves a number of issues all of sudden.
Earlier than the bulldozer period, punishment for Muslims was meted out by vigilante mobs and the police – which both participated within the punishment or selected to look away. The bulldozing of properties, nonetheless, entails not simply the police, however the municipal authorities, the media – who have to be current to amplify and broadcast the spectacle of demon-slaying – and the courts who should look away and never intervene. It’s meant to inform Muslims, “You might be by yourself. No assistance will come. You don’t have any courtroom of attraction. Each establishment that was a part of the checks and balances of this previous democracy is now a weapon that can be utilized towards you.”
The properties of anti-government protesters from different communities are virtually by no means focused on this method.
On June 16, for instance, tens of hundreds of younger males livid with the BJP authorities’s new military recruitment coverage went on a violent rampage throughout North India. They burned trains and autos, blocked roads, and in a single city they even burned the BJP workplace. However most of them are usually not Muslim. So their properties and households will stay secure.
Within the two normal elections of 2014 and 2019, the BJP has proven convincingly that it doesn’t want the vote of India’s 200 million-strong Muslim inhabitants to win a majority in Parliament within the nationwide elections. So, in impact, we’re a kind of disenfranchisement. That can have harmful corollaries. As a result of as soon as you might be disenfranchised, you don’t matter. You grow to be inconsequential. You can be utilized and abused. That is what we’re witnessing now.
Even after high-ranking BJP officers publicly insulted every thing Muslims maintain most sacred, the occasion didn’t lose the backing of, or obtain significant criticism from, its core assist base.
There have been important protests by Muslims in response to those insults. The protests have been comprehensible, as a result of the incident got here on the again of a lot violence and brutalisation. Besides that as inevitably occurs, some among the many protestors referred to as for a blasphemy legislation, which the BJP would most likely be more than pleased to cross, as a result of then virtually all commentary about Hindu Nationalism may be criminalised beneath that legislation. It could successfully silence all criticism and stunt all clever commentary in regards to the political and ideological pit into which India is falling. Different particular person protestors, one from an essential political occasion, All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) referred to as for hanging and others referred to as for beheading – all of which serve to verify each stereotype about Muslims that the Hindu proper works so arduous to perpetuate. Throughout the excessive partitions of insults and dying threats from both facet, no dialog seems potential.
The polarisation that adopted the protests has solely elevated assist for the BJP. The BJP spokeswoman who delivered the insult has been suspended from the occasion, however has been brazenly embraced by its cadres. Her political future seems shiny.
At this time in India, we live by means of the political equal of a scorched-earth coverage. All the pieces – each establishment that has taken years to construct – is being destroyed. It’s stupefying. A brand new era of younger individuals will develop up totally brainwashed, with no connection to the historical past or the cultural complexity of their nation. The regime – with the assistance of a media made up of about 400 TV channels, numerous web sites and newspapers – retains up a steady drumbeat of bigotry and hatred, fuelled by hate-spewing inventory characters on both facet of the Hindu-Muslim divide.
Throughout the cadre of the Hindu proper there’s a new, aggressive far-right displaying a palpable restlessness the Modi authorities is more and more hard-pressed to manage, as a result of they’re the BJP’s core assist base. On social media, it’s now routine to come across open requires the genocide of Muslims. We’ve got reached the purpose of no return. What these of us who stand towards this, and particularly the Muslim group in India, wants to consider is, how can we survive this? How can we resist it? These are arduous inquiries to reply, as a result of at the moment in India even resistance itself, nonetheless peaceable, is taken into account a heinous crime virtually akin to an act of terrorism.
The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.