Harsh Mander: The dark clouds of 1935 Nuremberg have gathered over Indian skies (Scroll)

The exclusion and criminalisation of Muslim citizens through laws and state action are not as explicit as in Nazi Germany, but they violate the Constitution.

By Harsh Mander

Some national elections became decisive milestones in the journey of the Indian republic. Free India’s first election in 1951-’52 established to a widely sceptical world both the commitment and the capacity of the Indian people for electoral democracy. In 1977, the people of India voted overwhelmingly to restore the constitutional freedoms suspended during the 18-month emergency that preceded it.

Still, the 2024 national elections arguably are the most momentous since Independence. Its outcomes will decide if India will remain a secular democracy.

India’s constitutional secularism meant many things. The state would have no religion. It would scrupulously be equidistant from all religions. People of every persuasion, both of majority and minority faiths, would have full freedom not just to practice but also to propagate their religious beliefs.

The state would have the right but also the duty to intervene in religious practice when this contravened constitutional morality. And people of all minority faiths would be assured full citizenship rights equal to those of people of the majority religion. It would be the duty of the state both to defend these rights and to ensure that the state does not itself discriminate in any way on the basis of religion.

This story was originally published in scroll.in. Read the full story here.

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