By Rana Ayyub
Aug. 11: In Uttar Pradesh, a Muslim man, Aftar Ahmad, is dragged by a mob and mercilessly beaten as his young daughter begs for mercy. The mob continues to assault him in the presence of cops.
The events of the past few days show how hate continues to spread across India, enabled by Modi’s silence and his majoritarian politics.
The first rally, called by BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay against covid-19 guidelines, was in favor of a controversial Uniform Civil Code. Modi and his party claim they want to unify India under one code and do away with some of the guidelines and laws that sometimes govern matters within different religious groups. But the genocidal chants gave away their project for more control and discrimination of marginalized communities.
When Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited India recently, he highlighted the Indian people’s “steadfast commitment” to “democracy, to pluralism, to human rights, to fundamental freedoms.” But nothing could have been further from the truth. Anyone paying attention knows that India is rapidly declining into an authoritarian cauldron of communal hate and polarization, where every sensible voice being systematically silenced and intimidated.
I know of two prominent writers and a journalist critical of the Modi regime who are also being investigated by the Income Tax Department for their alleged “international source of income.” Even I’ve been questioned by at least three investigating agencies over the past three months, made to sit for 12 hours at a stretch, interrogated about my “connections” with international editors and publications. It’s a nightmare. Last week, I posted a note on my Instagram saying that that I was taking a break to protect my mental health after these traumatic experiences. But I have picked up my pen now just to let the government know, loud and clear, that neither I nor my brave colleagues can be silenced.
There is not a corner in India that does not reek of a moral decline.
The gruesome murder did not seem to offend the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights — it was the sharing of photographs that sprung them to act. In the past, Twitter had labeled the accounts of BJP officials and supporters for spreading misinformation. It’s clear this time they acted under political pressure.
Of course, Modi gets to ignore all of this since he’s been so busy celebrating India’s victories at the Tokyo Olympics, coopting them as his own. News channels that should be questioning the prime minister over his criminal abdication for the attack on the minorities instead have showered him in praise for India’s performance at the Games. It seems like most people prefer wearing a tricolored blindfold than facing reality: Islamophobia, tyranny and injustice are gnawing India; critics are being silenced with intimidation tactics or being surveilled with spyware.
This story first appeared on washingtonpost.com