Opinion : Bulldozer justice; India at Crossroads

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By Quamar Ashraf

Waves of communal incidents and hate speeches against Muslims during Hindu religious festivals – Ramnavami and Hanuman Jayanti –  have naturally triggered a significant amount of concern about the future of the robust 200 million Muslims of India’s 1.3 billion population. The opposition parties expressed concerns; questioned PM Modi’s silence, slams Hindu zealots, condemns violence etc.

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These were not sporadic incidents. There seems to be a design. The saffron-clad youth were let loose in the Muslim localities across eight states where the zealots raised provocative slogans, abused Muslims, even gave call for genocide, and desecrate mosques and mazars. At several places, Muslims resisted, defending their houses and mosques from the attacks. But the next day, the media branded them ‘stone pelters’ – reminding the Kashmiri youth – and governments bulldozed their houses.

The ‘bulldozer justice’ began from Khargone in Madhya Pradesh where Muslims said to have resisted the Hindu zealots from an alleged bid to desecrate mosques and attack Muslims. Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra described the state’s actions as a form of revenge. The same happened in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri locality when Muslims resisted rallyists to attack mosques. Next day, the BJP-controlled civic body let loose bulldozers to do the justice. Disturbingly, the demolition drive continued in Jahangirpuri for hours after the Supreme Court’s status quo order. However, CPI leader Brinda Karat mustered the courage to visit the locality and stood in front of a bulldozer to prevent further demolition. While the community party has no electoral ambition in the locality, the leaders from  Congress, Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP)  were found missing from the scene. Notably, these parties readily field candidates in every elections in the capital and hold considerable sway.

However, vilification of Muslim minority after every communal incident is not new, but the scale and nature of reaction from the states are highly disturbing. Ever since Narendra Modi’s emergence on the national scene, the country democratic polity has witnessed a new set of political discourse where anti-Muslimism sells. All the political parties prefer to keep Muslims off-stage, avoid proclaiming affinity with any Muslim-sounding identities and do not risk giving tickets to Muslims in any elections – from Panchayat to Parliament. Precisely, New India has little space for Muslims.

While successive governments right from the Independence struggled to defend the accusation of failing the Muslim community, the Narendra Modi government, on the other hand, boasts itself of being the one. Not that it found to be unapologetic about its anti-minority stands, rather it used the same to expand the BJP’s base across the length and breadth of the country. And it gained remarkable success.

Not only the Muslims, the country is at a crossroads. India cannot afford to ignore or downplay the fear being flagged by some serious political leaders and analysts.

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