Flames of Hatred in Modi’s India

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“April is the cruellest month,” so begins one of the most admired literary pieces of modernity, The Waste Land  by T S Eliot (1888-1965). Published in 1923, this masterpiece was taken to be a watershed in the genre of modern poetry. It is penned during a troubled time in Eliot’s life. His marriage was in disarray, he had a personality disorder, and his disenchantment with the post-war world was increasing.

To understand why April is the “cruelest month” for Eliot, we need to recognise that he is not making a widespread argument about Aprilness. April is not innately cruel. But Eliot is speaking like a performing artist on behalf of the dwellers of the world of his poem — a bizarre, high-Modernist fantasy land called “the Waste Land” — a land that has been profoundly shaped by a global pandemic, a land where only cactus grows and our knowledge of existence is reduced to acknowledge “a heap of broken images”. Eliot wrote it in the wake of the global pandemic. He and his wife caught the Spanish Flu in December of 1918, and he wrote much of the poem during his recovery (Austin).

However, my choice of Eliot’s celebrated coinage, “April is the cruellest month”, at the beginning of this piece has nothing to do with Eliot’s personal tragedy or any devastating pandemic like the Spanish flu or Covid-19 we have just somehow overcome. I refer to it because there is a particular April 2023 database (prepared by Muslim Mirror) of hate crimes in India that recorded 37 attacks in 30 days; an attack a day against Muslims in Modi’s India is the “new normal”. It is horrible, terrifying. It limits me to thinking beyond animalism and bestiality. The exhibition of the flames of hatred is in the entire operation and with enthusiasm never seen by the populace before.

By extension, the same formula can be applied to everyday happening in Modi’s India. Hardly a day passes without news of mob violence against Muslims and Dalits. The violence may range from online trolling, online abuse, rape, and intimidation to physical attacks, lynchings, and calls for genocide. The excuses abound the myth of the Muslim population boom, cow killing, cattle trading, beef eating, love-jihad, burqua, the nuisance of the azan, etc. From their food habits to sartorial wear, from their prayers to recitation of their holy book—everything is under the Hindutva scanner. The non-issues are the main issues in Modi’s “New India”. And flames of hatred are being nurtured at each home. To our surprise, even our mothers and sisters, so-called anchors of moral values and familial congeniality, are fueling the flames of hatred.

Fear and hatred have gripped the air, water and earth. There is no respite from it for a second. Watch a TV show; watch a movie; read a magazine, newspaper or journal; take a seat on a bus or a train; take a cup of tea or coffee at a street corner—Muslim bashing is everywhere. Still, our Marxist and liberal brothers are yelling against identity politics. They claim that class struggle is all that matters. When the repeated calls for Muslim genocide are openly made by the adherents to Hindu Rights, our proletariat brothers and sisters are dreaming of only a class-neutral society, not caste-neutral, not community neutral. Caste and community issues remain untouchable to the liberators of humanity. Today, Muslims are lynched not for their poverty or riches but for a single reason—they are Muslims. They are visual pollutants. They have a particular way of life that cannot be assimilated into our land of sadhus and sannyasis. And that way of life was imported from foreign lands. The punyabhumi must be cleansed of the bad blood of Muslims who eat our gau mata, who marry our sister.

The fear and horror with which the Indian Muslims are passing days under the Modi years can hardly be grasped by Desi and Videshi intellectuals, academics, researchers and columnists. Yes, they may present the pathetic marginalisation of Indian Muslims on all fronts of life with data, statistics, charts, and graphs. But they cannot feel a Muslim’s fear during his train travel in cow belt states or during his Friday prayer at a mosque. Fear is looming large in his surroundings. His good neighbours may become the worst enemies, provided the situation demands so. Betrayal is lurking behind each door. If the time comes, it will exhibit its monstrosity with full force. When our neighbours are clapping hands and worshipping the ubiquitous presence of the most adorable man on earth, the mass murderer, then the news of genocide calls loses its steam. The steam of genocide is manufactured at each home with countless WhatsApp forwards and hate messages. Where nothing happens, as in Samuel Beckett’s classic Waiting for Godot (1952), the actors either turn into tramps like Vladimir and Estragon. It also produces the torturer like Pozzo and the persecuted like Lucky, who relishes the tortures inflicted by his master with each pull to the strap tied to his neck. Here, however, everyone has been a tramp. Here is a fascist master, and under his shelter live millions of lackeys to serve him.

Stories after stories are being written to highlight the impending danger of Muslim genocide in India. Calls of genocide against Muslims are openly made. Our good Hindu neighbours are watching it with utter dismay. Where is the rule of law? Where is the direction of the land? Who supports and incites the hate traders, hate-mongers, and sellers? Is it the state or the state’s machinery? Or is it the majority of our Hindu friends and neighbours? Who are in complicit with whom? So many questions!

An interesting twist, though ironically, Modi has been able to add to the discourse of Indian Muslims. Their singular identity of ‘Indianness” has been the salient feature to be picked for killing them in broad daylight. So far, our sociological and political pundits have been searching caste divisions, linguistic differentiation, and regional variety among Indian Muslims. But today, all the dissimilarities among the Muslims inhabiting India have been erased by the charismatic brush of Hindutva. One identity, and one identity, I repeat, has emerged—their inherent Muslimness. Hindutva leadership has served the Muslims excellently by showing their place in Indian society. In the eyes of the BJP, a Muslim is a Muslim, who must be either castigated to the second-class or third-class citizenry, or she must be lynched. There is no question of good Muslims or bad Muslims. They are foreigners. They are the inheritors of the invaders and looters who had once stolen our Hindu sisters and mothers’ sanctity. This narrative has absolute validity and a wide currency to most Hindus, irrespective of their political leanings and religious beliefs.

In Bangla there is an old adage, “baghe groute ek ghate jal khoya” (cows and tigers drinking water from the same water body). It is a very uncommon phenomenon. Tigers eat cows, we all know. But there are calamitous times when tigers forget their ferocity and drink with their prey. In the case of Indian Muslims, this analogy can be applied. Modi has been able to erase the so-called incompatible elements among Indian Muslims. He has killed good Muslims and the nameless bad Muslim multitude with the same animality. Only with one weapon—by fuelling the flames of hate between the two communities in pre-independence and post-independence India.

Millions of doctored videos are being made and uploaded by millions of desh bhakts, YouTubers, and social media handlers, supportive of the single cause of Bharat mata—cleansing the bad blood from the anchal of Bharat mata. Millions of viewers and subscribers, and their hate-filled comments fail to shock the Indians. Many enjoy it—from the school-going boys and girls to the last HIndutva warriors, dying with a dream of Hindu Rashtra in their eyes, holding a smartphone in their shaking hands.


1.       Austin,  Michael. “Why is April “the Cruelest Month”? T.S. Eliot’s Masterpiece of Pandemic Poetry.” Medium, 1 Apr. 2020, available at: https://michaelaustin-47141.medium.com/why-is-april-the-cruelest-month-t-s-eliots-masterpiece-of-pandemic-poetry-13300db19466, accessed 9 Aug. 2023.

2.       Muslim Mirror. https://muslimmirror.com/eng/monthly-database-hate-crime-against-muslims-in-india-april-2023/, 12 May 2023, accessed 9 Aug. 2023.

3.       World Without Genocide. https://worldwithoutgenocide.org/genocides-and-conflicts/anti-muslim-actions-in-india, Aug. 2020.

4.       Mahmood, Muhammed. “The Rising Spectre of Muslim Genocide in Modi’s India; How Serious is It?”  31. 2023, available at:  https://countercurrents.org/2022/01/the-rising-spectre-of-muslim-genocide-in-modis-india-how-serious-is-it/

5.       The Wire. https://thewire.in/rights/india-mass-killing-genocide-report, 3 Dec. 2022.

Abu Siddik teaches at Plassey College, West Bengal, India. He is a bilingual author and has been  published in India and abroad. He has three critical books— Representation of the Marginalized in Indian Writings in English (Falakata College Cell, 2015), Misfit Parents in Faulkner’s Select Texts (Authorspress, 2015), Banglar Musolman (Sopan, 2018); two poetry books and a short story, published by Authorspress in 2020 —Rugged TerrainWhispering EchoesA Birdwatcher and Other Stories.  Website: www.abusiddik.com

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