The recent terror attack on innocent Hindu pilgrims in Kashmir has evoked an outrage throughout the world.
Seven people died and more than dozen got injured in an attack on a bus carrying pilgrims to Amarnath shrine that houses an iced idol of Lord Shiva.
Every year thousands of Hindus visit Amarnath from across India. Due to ongoing armed insurgency by the Kashmiri militants fighting for the right to self determination, the Hindu pilgrims are given a massive security cover. There have been numerous attacks on the pilgrims even in the past. Authorities have frequently blamed extremists aided and abetted by the neighbouring Pakistan for violence against Hindus in Kashmir.
Following the latest attack, a number of countries expressed their outrage and sent their condolence messages to the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. In Surrey, special prayers and a vigil were organized by the members of the Vedic Hindu Temple in memory of those who died in the attack.
Notably, Modi had visited this temple in 2015. Among the participants were Surrey Newton MLA Harry Bains, while Surrey Green Timbers MLA Rachna Singh had sent her condolences to the temple secretary Vinay Sharma.
The speakers unanimously condemned this act of violence.
While the anger over this barbaric incident is understandable and justified, there has been a complete silence over the continued violence against minorities in India under Modi. Ever since he came to power in 2014, violence against religious minorities particularly Muslims, Christians and Dalits or so called untouchables has grown. The so called cow vigilantes have intensified their campaign against these groups. Since Hindus consider cow as a sacred animal, people belonging to these communities are being frequently attacked after being accused of consuming beef. In several instances Muslims have been lynched to death by the mobs led by people who allegiance to the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharitya Janata Party (BJP).
It is pertinent to mention that the BJP government was complicit in the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat back in 2002. Modi was the Chief Minister of the state at that time. Though he was never convicted, the human rights activists believe that he was directly involved in the pogrom that followed the burning of a train carrying Hindu pilgrims. The incident that left more than 50 people dead was blamed on the Muslim fundamentalists by the Modi government. Christians, Sikhs and Dalits too have come under attack from the BJP supporters in Gujarat on separate occasions.
Despite the ongoing terrorism of Hindu extremists for the past several months and public demonstrations against them in 16 cities of India, the countries including Canada never came out with a strong condemnation. This may be partly because India is known to be the world’s largest democracy or partly because it is a growing economy that remains a center of attraction for foreign investors.
Whatever may be the excuse, most nations today are consumed by Islamophobia and that is one explanation that why Hindu extremism is not being seen as a major threat to the peace and harmony. Terrorism in any form must be condemned with equal zeal. If the lives of the Hindu pilgrims were precious, so were the lives of the Muslims who have been murdered by the extremists who continue to enjoy impunity under a right wing government.
Lastly, we still have to wait until we get to know the full truth behind the attack on Amarnath pilgrims. There are some serious gaps in the story that give credence to many conspiracy theories.
The bus that came under attack had come from Gujarat that is heading for the assembly election. Already, the election campaign has become controversial there because of the anti Muslim rhetoric of the BJP leaders. The attack on the pilgrims might add more fuel to the fire as a few BJP leaders have started spewing venom against Islam.
Also, the bus was not registered with the shrine board and therefore was not a part of the convoy that is given sufficient security cover. On top of that the bus violated the rules of pilgrimage and was traveling outside the permissible hours of traveling through a disturbed area.
The right wing commentators have prematurely started speculating over the involvement of Pakistan and Islamic extremists, whereas no group has taken the responsibility for the attack so far. Whether it was done by the Kashmiri separatists or it was an inside job we may not learn soon, but what can be surely said about the attack is that it was aimed at dividing people and disturb communal harmony. By jumping to the gun, we will only be playing into their hands of such divisive.
Gurpreet Singh is a Canada- based journalist who publishes Radical Desi- a monthly magazine that covers alternative politics.