Washington DC, January 15 (KMS): Experts from leading global human rights watchdogs, Amnesty International USA and Genocide Watch, have warned that the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Islamophobic policies and tolerance of open incitement by Hindu extremists for the genocide of Muslims are pushing India towards mass violence against and massacres of Muslims.
According to Kashmir Media Service, at a Congressional Briefing organised in Washington D.C., the experts said because of Modi’s failure to condemn and act against anti-Muslim bigotry, hate speeches by leading religious and political figures had proliferated in recent weeks specifically aimed at inciting such mass violence against Muslims.
Dr Gregory Stanton, President of Genocide Watch, said a gathering of saffron-robed Hindu monks held last month at the north Indian Hardiwar city “was exactly aimed at inciting the genocide of Muslims”. “As the leader of India he has an obligation to denounce this genocidal speech… Yet Modi has not spoken against it.”
Govind Achayra, India/Kashmir Specialist with Amnesty International USA, said, “That the participants [at the gathering] would openly urge Hindus to emulate the violence against Rohingya Muslims and boast about it in the days afterwards in the media is illustrative of the atmosphere of bigotry that pervades these groups.” The calls to large-scale massacres of Muslims [aim] to institute Hindu supremacy over India, he added.
Achayra, said the fact that Keshav Prasad Maurya, a leader of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the deputy chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, had this week defended the “open incitement and hate from the dharma sansad in an interview to the BBC speaks to the current atmosphere” of peak hatred and bigotry against India’s Muslims.
At the Haridwar event a top religious leader of the Hindu Mahasabha openly called for raising an “army” of Hindus to “kill two million Muslims.” At another event held in New Delhi, hundreds of participants took a public oath to kill in order to protect Hinduism. Elsewhere, schoolchildren were recorded taking similar oaths to “kill and die” to create a Hindu nation. Politicians have defended the right to incite violence against Muslims.
Cautioning that “genocide is not an event” but “a process,” Dr Stanton noted that Modi had a long history of presiding over mass violence against Muslims, beginning with the Gujarat pogroms of 2002. “Under the [Bharatiya Janata Party’s] policies, Modi has used anti-Muslim, Islamophobic rhetoric to build his political base,” he said.
He maintained that the UN Genocide Convention covered genocides specifically “aimed at the destruction, in whole or in part, of a national, ethnic, religious, or racial group”. He said that was “exactly what the Myanmar government did against the Rohingya” and “we’re now facing [in India] a very similar kind of plot… and the victims are the 200 million Muslims who live in India.”
Genocide Watch has been warning of what it calls an “impending genocide” in India since 2002, when anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat occurred.
Dr Stanton pointed out that upon becoming the prime minister, Modi has “used anti-Muslim Islamophobic” policies such as the revocation of Kashmir’s special status and the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that excludes Muslims, “to build his political base”.
The Genocide Watch President warned, “The ten processes of genocide begin with classification by “trying to exclude people from citizenship. Dehumanisation involves calling people terrorists, separatists and criminals. This language is used by the Government against the Muslims. Polarisation leads to hatred for all Muslims, and preparation for genocide is what “we are seeing right now.”
Govind Acharya of Amnesty said, “This bigoted law (CAA) specifically discriminates against Muslims seeking citizenship. When you combine it with the CAA, the NRC is weaponized against Muslims in India. Because of the bigotry of these laws, India stands to create the biggest statelessness crisis in the world which will create unimaginable suffering. And of course the vast majority of those affected would be Muslims.”
Anas Tanwir, a lawyer for the Indian Supreme Court and founder of the Indian Civil Liberties Union in his remarks said, once an organisation has the support of the state machinery, or if the state machinery is willing to look away, it does not remain a fringe organization.
Sunita Viswanath, Executive Director of Hindus for Human Rights, said, the speeches made in Haridwar are an explicit call for genocide against Muslims by religious leaders who are close to the ruling party, the government.
“According to research from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, India is at a high risk – number two in the world – for a genocide… We call on all of you to recognize that the hatred being expressed in India is at a very serious level. We can’t let the Biden Administration repeat the mistakes of the past,” she said.
Amina Kausar, an IT entrepreneur who was one of the many victims of Bulli Bai, an app that was designed by Hindu extremists to “auction” and harass vocal Muslim women also spoke at the briefing. “The sheer humiliation of being put up for ‘sale,’ and called a ‘Bulli Bai,’ a vulgar slang phrase implying a woman is a prostitute, is hard to describe in words,” she said.
“Being objectified, being reduced to a virus, normalising the abuse, is one of the decisive stages of genocide… These online abusers are not fringe elements. Many of them are backed by none other than the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. I urge US government to take note of the systemic violence that Indian Muslim women are subjected to.”
The briefing was cosponsored by a group of 17 human rights and interfaith organisations, including the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), Amnesty International USA, Hindus for Human Rights, Genocide Watch, 21Wilberforce, International Christian Concern, Jubilee Campaign, Dalit Solidarity Forum, New York State Council of Churches, Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America, India Civil Watch International, Students Against Hindutva Ideology, Center for Pluralism, American Muslim Institution, International Society for Peace and Justice, Association of Indian Muslims of America, and the Humanism Project.