india muslims

Where do we begin? Shall we say it started in 2019 to keep it lighter or should we dive back into history and completely indulge ourselves in finding the origins of the political turmoil in India. The task is tedious, if not difficult, to research – pogroms, occupation, attempts to cleanse one particular community – what we see is a repetitive pattern of otherization in its extreme sense. As significant are other dates in this study, the year 2019 stands out as a definitive epitome of a fascist state, which marked its beginning by officially acquired the control of Kashmir on August 5, the date which is and will be a blot on Indian history, a failure of not only the state but also the academia and progressive organizations – a collective violence on Kashmir which still continues in absence of high speed internet. The theatrics of hue and cry over Kashmir’s illegal control lasted for less than two months while Kashmiris continue to suffer at the hands of Indian State even today.

The illegal abrogation of article 370 was followed by the much controversial Babri verdict, whose purpose was to humiliate the lives lost in the 6th December, 1992 Babri masjid demolition followed by an anti-Muslim pogrom in Ayodhya, and to further the assertion of Hindu Rashtra in the minds of Muslims, in other words – a psychological murder of belonginess amongst Muslims in India. The state reached its new low, when the draconian Citizenship Amendment Act was put into play and the country saw, for the first time in 70 years, a massive protest, the spark which started in Assam and soon became a fire as it reached the mainland. The protests were met with violent clampdown by the state security forces, internet shutdown and arrest of activists and intellectuals. The first amongst the series of such attacks was on protesting students of Jamia Milia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University where both the Delhi Police and Uttar Pradesh Police resorted to firing, throwing tear gas and burning hostel rooms while students ran to save their lives. The state sponsored attacks on these two minority institutions and the draconian CAA paved way for the, now much celebrated, Shaheen Bagh protest. JNU scholar, Sharjeel Imam who helped in building up this massive protest, which would soon become the symbol of resistance against the state, is currently in judicial custody under charges of sedition and UAPA slapped on him by 5 states for exercising his right to speech by proposing the idea of chakka jam in different places in India including jamming the chicken neck in Assam as a form of protest against CAA and NRC. The deliberate and undemocratic attempts of state to curb voices of dissent is specifically frequent when it comes to silencing muslim voices, recent arrest of Jamia scholars Safoora Zargar and Meeran Haider amidst COVID-19 threat is another addition to the longlist of abuse of power by the Indian state. Lest we forget the deadliest of all incidents, the 2020 anti-Muslim pogrom in the capital of the country. This state sponsored attack on Muslims saw loss of lives of hundreds of Muslims, left many of them homeless and jobless, looting of houses and demolition of masjids and madrasas was rampant during the attacks. The intellectual class and civil societies did as little as issue solidarity statements while the dignity of Muslim community burnt along with their bodies and houses.

The media trail and FIR on members of Tablighi Jamaat painted the pandemic in the colors of communalism and hatred. As Indian state was struggling to fight COVID-19 with minimal resources in its hands, it found a perfect scapegoat in Jamaat. The Indian Media threw the whole Muslim community under the bus to serve their masters. The collective conscience of this wretched democracy completely fell for the narrative as it suited them more to blame the already victimized Muslim community, than the ill equipped yet boisterous regime which is preparing for its citizens to die of a deadly virus.

What started in the latter half of 2019, is continuing even as we face a pandemic. The recent arrest of 11 activists, lawyers and intellectuals, falsely accused in Bhima Koregaon violence case, on Ambedkar Jayanti as the perpetrators roam about freely, is an irony that this democracy will forever regret. The future of the world’s largest democracy remains bleak and week. With continued clampdown on voices of dissent, the vision of Hindu Rashtra becomes less and less blurry with each passing day. As the Indian intellectual community watches from distance, probably awaiting or avoiding their turn, the day is not far when Indian democracy will seem like an idea long lost amidst the noise of claps and the smoke of diyas.

Shambhavi Siddhi is a student in center for french and francophone studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.



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