Reports

India Steps Up Violence against Muslims

Muslims in India have been increasingly at risk since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi was first elected in 2014.

In March 2022, the High Court of Karnataka pronounced its verdict on the petitions related to the row over wearing hijab in educational institutions.

Wearing of hijab (head scarf) by Muslim women does not form a part of essential religious practices in Islamic faith and it is not protected under the right to freedom of religion guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution of India, the High Court of Karnataka declared on March 15.

Local Muslim traders closed their shops in protest, and in retaliation, Hindu rights groups such as Bajrang Dal have tried to prohibit Muslim traders from doing business at temple fairs. Banners have been placed near temples saying Muslim traders are not allowed to set up stalls.

Other Hindu nationalist organizations have approached temple committees to ask them to refuse non-Hindu traders, citing the Karnataka Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowment Act, 2002, which prohibits non-Hindus from doing business near temples. The state government, controlled by India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, supports the ban.

Last month, thousands of Muslims have taken to the streets across India to protest against anti-Islamic comments made by two members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Two Muslim teenagers were killed and hundreds of others arrested last week in nationwide protests over the comments, which embroiled India in a diplomatic furore and caused widespread outrage in the Muslim world.

Amnesty demanded an “immediate and unconditional release” of the jailed protesters.

Amnesty said the arrests and demolitions were “part of an alarming escalation of the states’ measures targeting Muslims”.

India Turned into Racist State

Since the Modi administration first took office, BJP leaders have repeatedly made Hindu nationalist and anti-Muslim remarks in their speeches and interviews.

These have, at times, encouraged and even incited violent attacks by party supporters who believe they have political protection and approval.

They have beaten Muslim men for dating Hindu women. Mobs affiliated to the BJP have, since 2015, killed and injured scores of members of religious minorities amid rumors that they traded or killed cows for beef.

In February 2019, BJP supporters threatened and beat several Kashmiri Muslim students and traders, apparently to avenge a militant attack on a security forces convoy.

Government policy has also reflected bias against Muslims. Since October 2018, Indian authorities have deported over a dozen Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar despite the risks to their lives and security.

After winning a second term in May 2019, the government revoked the constitutional autonomy of India’s only Muslim-majority state, Jammu and Kashmir, and, anticipating protests, deployed additional troops, detained thousands, and cut off phone and internet connections.

The police have failed to intervene when BJP supporters engage in speech inciting violence or mob attacks but are quick to arrest critics of the government.

Human rights violations documented

The Sachar Committee was a seven-member High Level Committee in India established in March 2005 by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The committee was headed by former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Rajinder Sachar to study the social, economic and educational condition of Muslims in India. The committee submitted its report in 2006 and the report was available in public domain on 30 November 2006.

The Sachar Committee Report brought the issue of Muslim Indian inequality to national attention, sparking a discussion that is still ongoing. The Committee recommended setting up an Equal Opportunity Commission to provide a legal mechanism to address discrimination complaints, including in matters such as housing.

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