How have the chauvinist politics of Hindutva appeared on the streets of Leicester?

A new poison has entered the bloodstream of some of Britain’s most multicultural inner-cities. It can cause hatred and division—and may even kill. We have seen it in action in recent disturbances in both Leicester and the suburbs of Birmingham.

It goes by many names but in India, where it originates, it is known as Hindutva. This is a form of nationalism that proclaims the superiority of Hindus above all others in India.

Hindutva’s adherents insist that India is now, and always has been, an exclusively Hindu nation. But, they say, that dream has been continually frustrated by invaders and foreign interference.

The champion of this ideology today is India’s hard right prime minister Narendra Modi and his BJP party. In the shadows beyond him stand fascist groups such as the RSS—a paramilitary street organisation

Modi and his many followers see enemies of India everywhere, from those that rail against caste oppression to women demanding justice for the victims of sexual crimes. But for those infected by Hindutva, there is no greater foe than Muslims

Historically, Muslims are charged with invading and occupying India under the Mughal Empire that spanned from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Today, they are said to be “the enemy within”, working to undermine the nation at the behest of India’s arch-enemy, Pakistan.

That poisonous idea has recently ­travelled to Britain with the aid of modern technology. Indian satellite TV bombards viewers across the world with chauvinistic bile.

And even many Indian family Whatsapp groups are contaminated by lurid ­stories of beastly Muslims and the glories of India’s Hindu defenders. But that alone would not have been enough for Hindutva to implant itself here.

It was aided by the British state and its open policy of Islamophobia—and by the acquiescence of both Conservative and Labour parties. Hindutva in Britain is a mutation that mixes Indian reactionary politics with Britain’s own brand of anti-Muslim hatred.

Riaz Khan is an educator and ­community activist in Leicester. Famed as the author of Memoirs of an Asian Football Casual, he knows the city and its people well.

He told Socialist Worker about how right wing Hindus were behind the recent turmoil in the East Midlands city.  “The tension between Hindu and Muslim young people in Leicester has been ongoing for around four months,” he said.

“But it reached a turning point earlier this month when a gang of about 25 people set upon a Muslim lad and battered him. Prior to that, there had been all sorts going on—people intimidating Muslim households and refusing to disperse. During that whole time the police did precisely nothing.”

Riaz says that despite rising anger, he and others were able to calm down Muslim youths that wanted to react to the provocations.  “But then came last week’s right wing Hindu march,” he said.

“There were a few hundred of them marching from Loughborough Road to Green Lane Road. By the time they got to North Evington, they were masked up and chanting anti-Muslim slogans.

“And during the whole of that 2.5 mile march, which was completely illegal, the police did nothing. They had six officers walking alongside the marchers, but later top police officers here claimed they knew nothing about it.

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