Article: Hindutva – A threat to peace and stability in South Asia

Saima Afzal

Islamabad, April 15 (KMS): India declares itself a democratic and secular state that claims to promote religious harmony within the state. However, the reality is the opposite, Indian constitution has failed to transform the Indian society into a secular state because of the biased and bigotry attitude of the BJP-led Modi’s Hindutva ideology. Hindutva is a modern political ideology that supports Hindu supremacy and transforms constitutionally the secular state of India into an ethnoreligious nation recognized as the Hindu Rashtra (Hindu nation). Whether it is Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhists and Dalits all the minorities are victimized under BJP’s biased policies. It seemed that India has become an apartheid state where human rights and equality have become a distant idea.

Karnataka is a state in Southwest India that has been in the news due to BJP-led Hindutva ideology and discriminatory attitude towards Muslims and Christians. Minorities have been bearing the brunt of Hindutva policies throughout India under the current BJP/RSS neo-Nazi government. Even the liberal Hindus who disagree with Hindutva policies have to face the consequence of being opposed. Contemporary, tussle over hijab and saffron scarves continue to spread to more colleges in Karnataka and issue has entered in national discourse; likely to gain momentum in the coming days.

The hijab ban

The hijab ban is another strike on the Indian secular outlook that India is losing rapidly. Hijab ban has once again highlighted Modi’s hatred of the Muslim minority. In the past, during 2002, Modi was the mastermind of Gujarat’s massacres to eliminate the resistance of Muslims proudly. Ethnic democracy and authoritarian approach is defining the future contours on Indian policy with intolerance and discrimination as its key pillars.

Forcing Muslim women to give up their hijab is a clear violation of Article 25 of Indian constitution which guarantees religious freedom and forbidding them from entering classrooms infringes upon Article 21(A) & Article 15 which give assurance of the right to education and prohibits discrimination based on religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth respectively. On 15 March 2022, a three-judge bench of the Karnataka High Court upheld the state government’s ban on Hijab in schools and colleges on the grounds that wearing it was not essential in Islam.

The discriminatory verdict makes a mockery of India’s so-called liberal and secular credentials under Modi’s Hindutva-inspired regime that protected and pleased Hindu majority. Therefore, India not only violates its constitutional article on religious freedom but also being a signatory to several international conventions, violates Article 18 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that stress on freedom of thought and conscience and religion.

In continuation to the anti-minorities policies of BJP/RSS administration, Hindutva organizations have now called for the boycott of Muslim fruit vendors on 4 April 2022. Hindu janajagruti has called for Hindus to set up more fruits shops to break the monopoly of Muslim traders in the fruits business. The Muslim population is 7.8 million in Karnataka which constitutes very less number than Hindu domination. The propaganda that Muslims have economically dominated the Hindus by depriving them of their due share thus is baseless and illogical. Before this Muslims were facing ban on halal meat and the use of loudspeakers during prayers time. It highlights that Hindus cannot bear Muslims being progressive and want to suppress them in all aspects, so they could be forced to live under the poverty line.

The unaffecting criticism

Despite increasing international criticism, human rights abuses (HRAs) against the minorities in India are the new normal, not a single day goes by when Indian minorities do not face new demands to sacrifice their basic human rights to fulfill the aspirations of neo-Nazi Hindutva groups. The recent inhuman acts of HRAs in the Indian state of Karnataka have once again unmasked the so-called secular face of India. Though the international human rights (HR) organizations and groups have time and again raised alarm on the deteriorating situation of human rights in India, especially with regard to the ever-growing element of state-sponsored activities of Hindutva groups.

However, rising Hindutva terror is becoming a potent threat to the peace and security of South Asia. RSS influence can now be seen in national policies affecting everything from education to commerce. Through its affiliates, it has been able to scuttle legislation it does not like. Indian Armed Forces, institutions and education system are being saffronized at a rapid pace within the framework of Maha Bharat. Growing Saffronization has made India an unsafe country for the world to invest, visit and engage on the basis of democratic values. The Saffronization drive has undermined the Indian democracy, pluralistic values and has introduced autocracy and majoritarianism. India is embarked on a self-destructive path and its saffronized policies are widening communal, ethnic and linguistic divide. A polarized Indian society will be a serious challenge to global peace and harmony.

In nutshell, India is considered the largest violator of human rights. From Kashmir to mainland India, minorities’ rights are being abused under the patronage of the Indian state. Indian constitution has a secular outlook which has a conflation of state and religion. Today’s India is anything but a secular state. India acts irrationally on the global stage and uses disinformation to hide its heinous crimes. The western powers, which often claim to be champions of human rights, have failed to hold India accountable for its bad human rights records because of their vested interests. Human rights organizations should come forward and stop India from human rights violations that are a potent threat to peace and stability of South Asia.

Courtesy: The Global Village Space