Teesta Setulvadi writes about the Hindu vigilante mobs who are unleashing violence against mostly Muslims and but also Christians as part of their goal of trying to create a Hindu state in what is still an officially secular country. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has a history of Hindu chauvinism and remained silent about these atrocious acts until a sudden spate of public protests forced him to issue a somewhat grudging condemnation of the latest killing of a young Muslim man by so-called cow-protection vigilantes for the ‘crime’ of allegedly carrying some beef. Cows are considered sacred by Hindus.
What is crucial to emphasize is the chain of command of culpability in this climate of impunity and lynchings. They began after the Modi government came to power and were aided and abetted by those in power within the government who spewed venom against Indian Muslims and Christians even while holding senior constitutional posts. They were further emboldened when governments run by the same party Modi represents, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), passed unconstitutional “beef laws” to curtail the slaughter, consumption and transportation of beef. They got greater pats on the back when their parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), spoke of the Holy Cow and its protection. The nail in the coffin was the recently introduced ban on the sale of cattle passed by the Modi government.
Indian newspapers have extensively reported recently, as they also did a year ago, that despite Modi’s apparent regrets about the lynchings, in his previous position as Gujarat chief minister, he was a firm proponent not just of cow protection, but against beef exports. The Indian Express recalls Modi statements of 2013, 2012 and 2014, when he attacked the previous Congress-led government for allowing the export of beef. That politicians indulge in the proverbial doublespeak, before and after a campaign, is only part of the problem. The other is more substantive.
What is appalling is that the people in each country where their own religion is in the majority and enjoys state patronage and protection that enables them to attack minorities with impunity, don’t seem to realize that their co-religionists in other countries where they are in the minority can be treated in exactly the same brutal way using the same justifications.