India Country Report
Illustrations: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com
Prime Minister Modi’s Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) threatens India's secularist constitution and its future as a democratic nation. Modi’s Hindu nationalist “Hindutva” agenda promotes intolerance counter to India's pluralistic traditions. The discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and Anti-Conversion laws have attacked the rights of Muslims and Christians. Hate speech against Muslims and immigrants flourishes.
Anti-minority acts of terrorism have grown at an alarming rate across India, especially against Muslims. With open calls for the genocide of Muslims by Hindutva monks, hate speech and hate crimes against Muslims have become endemic. In February 2023, two Muslim men were accused of “cow smuggling,” abducted and set ablaze by members of the pro-Hindutva Bajrang Dal. The murderers were publicly hailed as heroes. Since November 2022, a coalition of right-wing Hindu nationalist groups has been touring Maharashtra, delivering communally charged hate speeches against Muslims. No action has been taken against the agitators. In March 2023, a Muslim cattle trader was murdered by a gang of Hindutva extremists.
The Hindu majoritarian Hindutva ideology of the government has even resulted in bias in the justice system. In August 2022, the BJP government approved the early release of eleven men sentenced to life in prison for gang rape and murder during the 2002 Gujarat anti-Muslim massacres.
Dalits, formerly known as "untouchables," are at the bottom of a rigid caste-based social hierarchy in India. Violence against Dalits has increased since Modi came to power in 2014, according to India's National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). In July 2022, a Dalit boy was beaten to death by his upper-caste teacher for drinking water from a pot that was exclusively meant for the upper-castes.
Under so-called “anti-terrorism laws,” journalists have been detained for reporting anti-Muslim incidents. According to the Press Freedom Index of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), India ranked 150th out of 180 nations, a major decline. Police routinely arrest journalists and human rights activists in Kashmir.
The Modi government has banned the BBC documentary, “India: The Modi Question,” which implicates Modi in the 2002 anti-Muslim genocidal massacres in Gujarat. The Congress party leader, Rahul Gandhi, has been convicted of trumped-up charges of “defamation” of Modi, expelled from parliament, and prevented from running in the upcoming 2024 elections. The Modi government is turning India into an “electoral autocracy” rather than a constitutional democracy.
Genocide Watch considers the BJP government's attacks on Muslims and Dalits to be Stage 6: Polarization, Stage 7: Preparation, and Stage 8: Persecution. Modi’s statements at Aligarh Muslim University perversely claimed that his new anti-Muslim laws are intended to "uplift the Muslim community" demonstrate Stage 10: Denial.
Genocide Watch recommends:
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues should investigate India's discrimination against Muslims and report to the U.N. Human Rights Council.
The Indian Supreme Court should appoint an Independent Commission to investigate the Anti-Muslim pogroms of 2020 as well as continuing anti-Muslim lynchings.
Indian Army and police who committed crimes in Kashmir should be prosecuted.
Prime Minister Modi should order BJP leaders to stop inciting anti-Muslim violence.
International universities should stand in solidarity with Indian academic institutions.
Journalists around the world should report with alarm on Modi’s attacks on India’s free press.