Muslims in Modi’s India: The marginalised minority (Oxford Student)

By Yusuf Kundgol

In the middle of an election that he is widely expected to cruise through, with the spectre of the 2002 Gujarat riots lingering in BBC documentaries, and an increased global focus on anti-Islamic sentiments as a result of other conflicts, I (and many others) have been left to wonder – what does Indian PM Narendra Modi stand to gain from his continued assault on Muslims in India?

It would appear there are two possible reasons: either he personally wants to carry out and witness a religious prosecution, or he believes that his divisive rhetoric and anti-Muslim agenda will be welcomed by the 80 percent Hindu majority population leading to electoral success – and it is hard to decide which case is worse. Perhaps more alarming is the fact that it would currently appear that both are true, with a plethora of terrifying tales emerging which cast him and his right-hand man Amit Shah, as villains scarcely believable for a Bollywood movie.

If you are unfamiliar with the reality of the situation on the ground in India this might all feel hyperbolic. After all, in the West we often hear about the rapid economic development and progress that India is making, and while this might be true, there are unfortunate remnants of a less socially progressive era. Anti-Muslim sentiments have quickly become institutionalised and entrenched deep in society, which can very much be traced back to the emergence of Modi and Shah. Their roles have been widely documented, not least by the BBC, particularly concerning Modi and the 2002 Gujarat riots. It is widely accepted that he promoted and encouraged the violence and potential ethnic cleansing as Chief Minister of Gujarat by preventing police from taking action and delivering the standard aid that their job entails. Deaths, rape and violence were left unchecked, propagating a climate of fear amongst the minority Muslim population. 

Just as concerning has been the recent response from the Modi-led BJP government, where they sought to discredit and disavow the findings of a BBC documentary revealing the truth behind the incidents. The government proclaimed the documentary an illegitimate piece of colonial propaganda despite the BBC’s journalist credibility and assurances about the quality of the research.  Baselessly discrediting media outlets is a tactic employed by authoritarian leaders, unbefitting democratic ones, and it follows a worrying pattern of Modi’s increasingly authoritarian style. 

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

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