India is home to around two hundred million Muslims, one of the world’s largest Muslim populations in a Hindu majority state. As a minority, the Indian Muslims have had their fair share of problems when it comes to discrimination such as facing systematic discrimination, prejudice, and violence, despite constitutional protections. But all that increased manifold under the Modi administration. Under the Modi administration, India has seen a surge of nationalism and, simultaneously, a rising hatred for fellow Muslims. This hatred found its way from the Modi party BJP’s ideology, Hindutva.

In order to understand what Hindutva is, it is a pre-requisite to understand that Hindutva is not the same as Hinduism; Hindutva is the ideology of RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) that follows a nationalist ideology that believes in making an Akhand Bharat (United India) whereas Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world dating back to almost 4000 years, according to scholars.

Hindu nationalism was first put forward in the 1920s by author and politician V. D. Savarkar in his book, Hindutva: Who is a Hindu? Savarkar discusses who is considered a Hindu as seen through the lens of Hindutva. The ideology of Hindutva believes that only the Hindus are ‘true sons of the soil’ because their holy lands are in India and see Muslims as foreigners. Although many Muslims are descendants of Hindus that converted to Islam. One of the major beliefs of these Hindu nationalists is of making India an all-Hindu state. Muslims are not considered to be lawful residents of India and for the followers of Hindutva, the division of the sub-continent was the ultimate manifestation of Muslim disloyalty.

Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India belongs to the Bhartiya Janata Party, an off-shoot of RSS, and has based his party’s manifesto on the teachings of Hindutva. The manifesto is based on Nationalism, in PM Modi’s own words, “Nationalism is our inspiration and inclusion and good governance is our mantra”. Since the re-elections in 2019, the Modi administration has pushed for more and more controversial policies that ignore Muslim rights out rightly. Some examples can be seen in the latest clashes between Hindus and Muslims during the Hindu festival of Ram Navami, the birth of one of the chief Hindu gods Ram. Many videos were seen of processions where Hindu men, wearing saffron scarves and carrying sticks and swords stopped in Muslim neighborhoods and played provocative songs full of threats of genocide and raising hate slogans. In some cases, police were seen joining the processions. In some cases, Muslims retaliated by pelting stones at the Hindu mob. A mosque and 10 houses were set on fire and around 24 people were injured including a police officer the police responded by arresting people from both groups however FIRs were only registered against people from the minority group and a curfew was imposed by the administration in some areas of Khargone. The Khargone district administration bulldozed 16 houses and 29 shops belonging to the accused in an attempt to punish them.

In a similar incident, in 2020 when protests broke out in opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), legislation introduced by the BJP government, made it easy to block Muslim immigrants from getting Indian citizenship. During the protests, riots broke out between Muslims and Hindus, with mostly Hindus attacking Muslims; it turned into the worst religious violence India has seen in years. The incident reported 53 deaths of which were Muslims. Many Muslims were arrested in the aftermath of the riots and many FIRs were lodged but one FIR that was missing was against Kapil Mishra, a prominent BJP member who had given the Delhi police an ultimatum to clear the streets of the protesters or else he will take law into his own hands, not forgetting to mention to ‘shoot the traitors’.

The second incident where discriminatory or offensive behavior towards Muslims was observed is when on 1st January 2022, a number of Muslim Indian women were tried to be auctioned off on the internet. Around 100 women were put on the list, all were prominent in their respective fields i.e. broadcasters, politicians, authors, pilots, etc, and all were Muslim. Almost all these women that were put on that list had been critical of the ruling party of Modi. These women had no criminal record or had been violent to anyone, the only reason they were harassed so majorly was because of their raised voices against the BJP government. Last year in January, the police of Uttar Pradesh filed an FIR against Ismat Ara, a journalist who works for The Wire, for covering the farmer’s protests claiming that her coverage had spread fear among the public and was threatening the national integration of Indian people. But the story of Ismat ara is not just hers; many writers and editors who have openly reported against the ruling party have faced charges that range from defamation to posting provocative tweets and intent to cause violence.

In December 2021, a three-day religious meeting took place in the state of Uttarakhand, where Hindu supremacist leaders openly called for a genocide against minority groups. The Hindu attendees were urged to “take up weapons” for a “war against Muslims.” In a similar situation, a gathering was held by Yogi Aditya-Nath’s organization Hindu Yuva Vahini. Yogi Aditya-Nath is a politician-monk who explicitly preaches hate against Muslims. During his religious gathering, Hindus in a large number took an oath to make India a Hindu nation again, chanting, ‘We will fight and die if required, we will kill as well.

India has gone from a secular state to a nationalist state with extreme beliefs and people ready to use violence to impose their views in a span of 7-8 years. The hatred brewing inside members of Hindutva against minorities especially Muslims is fearsome and concerning. A Muslim living in India is as much of an Indian citizen as a Hindu who has been living in India. The differentiation based on religious premises is illicit and against the true Indian beliefs based on which the Indian state was made.

India is the portrait of a country losing touch with its roots. India’s ideology had always been based on secularism, one where every man, woman, and child is allowed to live their life however they want to, follow the religion they wish to follow, and support whoever their morals and values allow. But since the BJP’s government has taken over the extremist values have taken over the ideology of the Indian state so much so that the democracy has lost touch with secularism and is bending towards religious extremism. This change has blind-sided Indian people from the law and has made extreme measures against minorities a norm. a continued stream of such values and incidents will take India into chaos.

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