US Senator expresses concern over uptick in hate speech, communal violence in India & govt's skewed attitude
Senator Ed Markey said, he remained concerned about Modi govt’s efforts to peel back rights of religious minorities in India, laws on religious conversion, citizenship and other restrictive measures
As India commemorated its 73rd Republic Day, US Senator Edward J Markey highlighted the Modi’s government’s continual efforts to peel back the rights of religious minorities in India and the creation of an atmosphere where discrimination and violence has begun to take root.
The Masachusetts senator stated that he remained concerned about the Modi government’s efforts to peel back the rights of religious minorities in India, laws on religious conversion, citizenship and other restrictive measures which fly in the face of India’s inclusive secular Constitution, core tenets of any democracy. He was speaking in a Congressional hearing organised by the Indian American Muslim Council on January 26.
“As the Indian government continues to target the practices of minority faiths, it creates an atmosphere where discrimination and violence can take root. In the recent years, we have seen an uptick in online hate speech and acts of hate, including vandalised mosques, torched churches and communal violence. It is the duty of the United states to speak out when the fundamental human rights are under attack no matter where. But, even more importantly when they take place in India, a vital US partner,” pointed out Markey.
Speaking on the occasion of India’s Republic Day, Markey underscored that the day is meant to commemorate the formation of a Constitution meant to uphold the rights of all citizens. “As the world’s largest democracy India has long held the commitment of universal human rights and the rule of law within its borders. That commitment includes the protection of religious freedom and refraining from actions that limit the rights of minorities,” he reiterated.
“We will continue to honour the strong ties shared by our two countries,” said Markey, “while ensuring we speak up when a fellow democracy and strategic partner is unable to protect the rights of all of their people. Just as we strive to create a more perfect union in the United States, I will continue to encourage the Indian government to fulfill its commitment to its own people.”
Anti-Muslim violence has been on the rise in India ever since the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government was elected to power in 2014, and it has multiplied during their second term.
During Modi's first term in power, there were numerous incidents of Muslims being attacked by cow vigilantes over rumours that they had eaten beef, or that they were trying to smuggle cows for slaughter. Modi never condemned such acts quickly or strongly either, leading to a rise in such ghastly incidents.
In December 2021, Hindu religious men called for genocide of Muslims at a large gathering in Haridwar. The controversial Yati Narsinghanand, facing several FIRs in UP, called for a “war against Muslims” and urged “Hindus to take up weapons” to ensure a “Muslim didn’t become the Prime Minister in 2029”.
Former Delhi BJP spokesperson Ashwini Upadhyay was among those who attended the meeting, held from December 17 to 19 and attended by heads of various religious organisations, and presented Narsinghanand a copy of the Constitution.
Narsinghanand said that once it had captured India, “Islamic jihad will be the most powerful.” He called upon Hindus to take action besides economic boycott. “Forget swords… battle will be won by those with better weapons,” he said.
Known for his controversial remarks targeting Muslims and accused of inciting communal tension, Narsinghanand, the head priest of a temple in Ghaziabad, had also been accused of making objectionable comments regarding women leaders in BJP.
In recent months, several states have introduced laws to curb “love jihad” - an Islamophobic term fringe Hindu groups use to imply that Muslim men prey on Hindu women to convert them to Islam through marriage. The laws are being used to harass and jail Muslim men in interfaith relations with Hindu women.
Muslim women haven't been spared either - in July 2021 and January 2022- dozens of them found they had been put on auction online. ‘Bulli Bai’, an app hosted on Github, offered Indian Muslim women, on auction. In 2021, a similar app called ‘Sulli Deals’, which was also hosted on Github, had listed hundreds of Muslim women for “auction” with their photographs doctored and sourced without their permission. For many women, they were listed in the first app as well as the ‘Bulli Bai’ app.
The accused, a bachelor of computer application degree holder, admitted that he was a member of a group on Twitter and the idea to defame and troll Muslim women was shared there.