London, July 29 (KMS): Minorities in India are facing ‘imminent existential threat’ under a systemic campaign of violent Hindu nationalist persecution.
This is a finding from Destructive Lies, a shocking new report from the London School of Economics (LSE), commissioned by Open Doors.
The driving force behind this increasing persecution is Hindutva, an ideology that disregards Indian Muslims and Christians (and other religious minorities) as true Indians because they have allegiances that lie outside India, and asserts the country should be purified of their presence. This is leading to a systemic, and often carefully orchestrated, targeting of Christians and other religious minorities.
The research report found that an atmosphere of deep trauma, fear and anxiety pervades the Minorities as well as many of the Christian and Muslim communities in medium-sized towns and villages and on the outskirts of larger cities.
It said, these fears are based on experiences of persecution, including exclusion, bullying and violence, where Minorities have not hidden their faith. Other factors, such as gender and class status, have heightened the suffering.
Behind much of the hostility is personal ambition. Vigilante mobs or violent squads target Christian and Muslim communities, and cast them as the villains, as a way of currying favour with local and national politicians, it added.
The report said, not only have Muslims been deliberately overlooked in the distribution of Covid-19 government aid, they have also been the subject of disinformation relating to the pandemic. These lies have spread across mainstream and social media platforms and apps, it added.
It maintained, his includes images circulating showing people refusing blood transfusions from Muslim and Christians, whilst both faith communities have been blamed for the spread of Covid-19. Only a small number of such posts have been taken down. And this is despite Christians and Muslims contributing to community Covid-19 relief efforts, in some cases working alongside Hindus and Sikhs.
The report said, some Indian states have anti-conversion laws. These are frequently used to target Muslims for “forced conversions” and reflect how hard-line Hindu influences in the political sphere translate to regressive laws.
Meanwhile, at a local level, various state actors, such as district administrators, lower court judges and police officials, use loopholes and misuse procedural provisions to harass religious minority groups.
One of the first things extremists will do before attacking Muslims and other religious minorities is snatch their phones. This is to prevent them documenting the incident. But the perpetrators themselves will record the attack and post it on social media.
Why? There are several reasons. To promote their own reputation amongst Hindutva groups and politicians. To warn religious minorities to stop practicing their faith. And to let police know that they are unashamed of their violence.
Troublingly, the mainstream media cannot be relied upon to give an accurate version of events. Even if a local reporter captures the real story, the final edit will be dictated by ‘an institutional hierarchy which is either risk averse or loyal to powerful Hindutva organisations and parties’, reads the report. If a story cannot be spun against religious minorities, it almost invariably won’t be covered at all.
The report makes a series of urgent recommendations to the international community and international financial organization, including an international fact-finding commission to record levels of violence and human rights violations against religious minorities.