Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi lambasted the people marching on the streets against his government’s contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 — the CAA — and the notorious National Register of Citizens (NRC) for being nonchalant to the persecution of the minority communities in Pakistan. Modi was speaking during his visit to a Hindu mutt in Karnataka, where anti-NRC/CAA protests were suppressed by police violence that killed two in the state ruled by his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). While attempting to take potshots at India’s largest minority community, the Muslims, who are vehemently opposing the NRC and the CAA, Modi exposed the sheer frustration he and his Hindutva fascist regime, controlled by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is quagmired in.
As a statesman, Modi can definitely express his anguish over the perilous state in which the minority communities live in the immediate neighbourhood of India, especially his and the BJP’s favourite punching bag — Pakistan. Still, he can only ask the common people, the opposition and the minorities of India, especially the Muslims, to criticise Pakistan for the plight of its minority communities when he can prove that under his reign the minorities in India are living in a comparatively better atmosphere. It’s even evident to a Muslim child in present India that the Modi regime is plotting to strip the community of the basic human dignity and respect it enjoys under the Constitution, forget providing it with a secure environment.
Celebrating mob lynching of Muslims over allegations of beef consumption or love affair with Hindus to stripping their civil rights and constitutional status as equal citizens through the NRC and the CAA are some of the feathers on Modi’s hat that show the minority Muslim community is not safe in India under the BJP. With such a track record, especially when someone like Ajay Bisht aka Yogi Adityanath — a feral Hindutva fascist rabble-rouser monk-turned-rioter-turned-chief minister — who has unleashed macabre state terror on Muslims in Uttar Pradesh, which killed 17, wounded hundreds and even sexually abused children in police custody, then shedding crocodile tears over persecution of the minority communities in Pakistan is the peak of hypocrisy one can traverse to. Before criticising the persecution of the minority communities in Pakistan, Modi should have straightened his own track record, stained with a murky trail of communal violence and persecution of minorities.
After asserting, soon after swearing-in, that his government will work to earn the trust of the minority communities, Modi and his BJP have launched the biggest-ever assault on the Muslim community in post-partition India through the NRC and CAA. Even the Muslims who remained mum on sheer injustice done to the community in the Ayodhya verdict, came out on the streets to resist the draconian laws. The attempt to delegitimise and disenfranchise Muslims, to take away their political right to elect a government and their right to bargain wages, in order to help strengthen the RSS’s attempt to establish a Hindu Rashtra — Brahminical theocratic state — replacing the so-called secular façade that concealed India’s hitherto zealot character, in order to provide the corporate houses with a large pool of cheap, stateless, bargaining-powerless workers, is something what the Indian people are bound to protest against and resist, which they are religiously doing.
As non-citizens of Pakistan, the Muslims of India, the opposition forces and anti-fascists won’t be obliged by Islamabad even if they protest against the persecution of the minority communities in Pakistan, just like New Delhi never obliges the Pakistani people’s protest against the colonisation of Kashmir or persecution of Indian Muslims. Therefore, they can do the next best thing than wailing over the persecution of the minority communities in Pakistan, ie, opposing the bigotry of the government headed by Modi, which is technically accountable to the 1.3 billion Indians, like themselves. Modi can’t outsource his responsibilities to Imran Khan or the Pakistani establishment but has to face the consequences of the gruesome savagery he has subjected the Muslims to.
While Modi spent five, out of six, years of his rule blaming the Congress party and its former prime ministers, including Jawaharlal Nehru, for all woes of India, since the 2019 Lok Sabha election, he has chosen Pakistan more vigorously as the punching bag. His government’s crimes, the opposition’s dissent and people asking questions are blamed on Pakistan. When Indians are accusing him of bigotry and communalism, Modi is highlighting the persecution of the minority communities in Pakistan, which suddenly became a trending topic when a bigoted Muslim man, allegedly an R&AW spy, launched a violent attack on a Sikh pilgrimage destination — Nankhana Sahib — to provide ammo to Modi’s arsenal. Actually, Modi blames Pakistan of funding Indian opposition and dissenting people without realising — due to his crude economic wisdom — that it would take more than the Pakistani GDP to fund such a gargantuan exercise. Anyways, as long as the BJP can exploit anti-Pakistan jingoistic sentiments of its rumbustious Brahminical supporters, Modi knows he can retain his throne and keep the people distracted from the burning issues crippling the country’s economy.
It’s a well-known fact that both the RSS and the BJP derive the essential nutrition for their existence from the presence of Pakistan. Sans the neighbouring Islamic republic, sans the persecution of the minority communities in Pakistan, neither the Modi regime nor the entire Hindutva fascist enterprise has anything to fall back to in order to remain politically relevant. It was his military escalation with Pakistan, the purported surgical strikes and other such rhetoric that helped Modi to win the 2019 Lok Sabha election with a higher margin than ever. Without his jingoistic rhetoric and optics regarding Pakistan, which titillated his hardcore supporters as well as a large section of the military-worshipping upper-caste Hindu elites and urban middle class, it was nearly impossible for Modi to return to power amidst higher tides of anti-incumbency.
The epidemic trolling of Modi over his call to the opposition to fight against the persecution of the minority communities in Pakistan and the relentless resolution of the protesters against NRC and CAA is forcing the sclerotic regime to retreat and spread lies. However, unless there is a strong, concerted effort to link all spontaneous movements by different forces fighting against the BJP’s and Modi’s assault on the Constitution, it will be definitely hard to bring down the tyrannical regime. It’s imperative, for the cause of new democracy and an egalitarian future that the people and their struggles are united and these movements are intensified to increase the heat on the Hindutva fascist Modi regime.
Nabeel Anwer is a Delhi-based journalist who writes on issues related to the minority communities and marginalised people. His harsh criticism of the system got Facebook to censor him repeatedly.