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January 15, 2021

A justified snub

Opinion

January 15, 2021

The writer is a freelance contributor.

Reportedly the Indian government in a written demarche to the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, while expressing concern over the attack on a Hindu temple at Karak in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said that the government of Pakistan, in discharge of its responsibilities, was expected to look after the safety, security and well-being of its minority communities including protection of their religious rights and cultural heritage.

What the India government said in its demarche cannot be contested in view of the fact that it is an internationally recognized obligation of the states. However, coming from a government that has adopted the suppression of its minorities as a state policy, it sounds rather rich and bizarre. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, therefore, rightly snubbed the expression of concern by India advising it to set its own house in order before pointing a finger at others.

Nobody in their right mind and with even a grain of conscience and humanity in him would endorse this terrible action by the religious bigots who had tried to demolish the Hindu temple. The incident has been widely condemned in Pakistan as well as at the highest level of the Pakistan government. Taking notice of the incident, the KP government arrested the people involved in the incident and has also pledged to reconstruct the temple. The Supreme Court of Pakistan too, taking a serious view of the episode, has directed the government to make the religious leader who is said to have incited the people to demolish the temple pay for its reconstruction. The reaction by the KP government, the federal government and the apex court was in line with the international obligations of Pakistan and its constitution. It is how it should have been.

Unfortunately, the situation in India is completely opposite. Two days before the attack on the Hindu temple in Karak, the BJP zealots attacked mosques in Madhya Pradesh and Indore during fund-raising rallies for the construction of Ram Mandir at the site of Babri Masjid. Though the local administrations made some arrests, there was no condemnation of the incident by the Indian government.

So, in Pakistan, the government has ordered reconstruction of the temple and in India a temple is being built at the site of the mosque demolished by BJP zealots led by L K Advani. The Supreme Court of India endorsed the construction of the temple and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already laid the foundation stone of the Ram Mandir at the site of Babri Masjid on August 5, 2020.

In fact, the Indian government – inebriated by the RSS ideology of ‘Hindutva’ – is feverishly engaged in suppressing the country’s minorities, particularly Muslims. Its communal bias has given birth to the phenomenon known as cow-lynching while the government looks the other way. Perhaps with a view to show a mirror to the Indian government, it would be pertinent to recount some of the steps that it has officially taken to persecute the minority communities living in India.

To begin with, the Indian government deprived 1.9 million Muslims in Assam of their citizenship through the enforcement of the National Citizens Register, which caused a lot of resentment in the state. The Bangladesh government also expressed disapproval of these steps as those affected by it were Bengali Muslims who have been living in the state for decades. This was followed by the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) which was essentially anti-Muslim. This led to country-wide protests but the Indian government refused to backtrack. More than fifty people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the riots in Delhi under the nod of approval of law-enforcement personnel.

Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in an article in The Hindu on March 5, 2019 lamented the enactment of this gory incident in these words: “The truth is that the current situation is very grim and morose. The India that we know and cherish is slipping away fast. Willfully stoked communal tensions are threatening to derail India’s progress and standing. It is time to confront the harsh reality of the grave risks we face as a nation and address them squarely and sufficiently. India faces imminent danger from social disharmony.

“Delhi has been subjected to extreme violence over the past few weeks. We have lost nearly 50 of our fellow Indians for no reason. Several hundred people have suffered injuries. Communal tensions have been stoked and flames of religious intolerance fanned by unruly sections of our society, including the political class. Institutions of law and order have abandoned their dharma to protect citizens. Institutions of justice and the fourth pillar of democracy, the media, have also failed us.

“Every act of sectarian violence is a blemish on Mahatma Gandhi’s India. Just in a matter of a few years, India has slid rapidly from being a global showcase of a model of economic development through liberal democratic methods to a strife ridden majoritarian state. India should withdraw or amend the Citizenship Amendment Bill.”

There could not have been a harsher indictment of Indian rulers for their anti-minorities policies than this. The enactment of the CAB was also condemned world-wide.

Yet another anti-Muslim, anti-UN resolution and anti-Fourth Geneva Convention move by the Modi government was to scrap Article 370 of the Indian constitution on August 5, 2019 – ending the special status of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, its bifurcation into two territories and making them part of the Indian Union. This was followed by the promulgation of a new domicile law which allowed Indian citizens to settle in Occupied Kashmir and buy properties there as well. The measure was aimed at changing the demographic features of the state.

India tried to sell its foregoing actions to the world community as its internal matter. The redeeming factor though has been that the global fraternity did not buy this narrative. Even the UNSC in its informal meetings in the backdrop of the Indian action reiterated that the Kashmir dispute needed to be resolved in conformity with principles of the UN charter and the relevant UN resolutions.

The foregoing steps taken by India with regard to Occupied Kashmir have put the peace and security of the region at great risk. India is not only continuing with its killing spree in the state and blatant violation of human rights but has also adopted a hostile posture towards Pakistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has been warning the world community and the UN about the danger posed to the security of the region by the Hindutva philosophy and the possibility of Indian aggression against Pakistan in the form of yet another false flag operation. One really wonders how a state or a government with such soiled credentials regarding protection of minorities and their worship places can raise fingers at others regarding rights of minorities?

The policies pursued by India warrant the immediate intervention of the UN and the global community, particularly those powers that boast about their humanitarian credentials. They need to do this before ‘Hindutva’ leads to a disaster for the entire region and beyond.

Email: [email protected]