Religious bigotry in India and Pakistan

Chandan Kumar

Divided subcontinent attained independence from the British colonial regime on the eve of 15th August 1947. Several ideological differences led to the creation of two new countries with similar history of resistance against oppression and repression of dissent. Today, after seventy-three years of independence, the question arises that where do the two nations stand? This question should be answered with two different perspectives garnered from the same lens, religious bigotry.

Religious bigotry and hatred against minorities are at an unprecedented peak in the two nations’ history. Minorities of both countries are facing religious violence on a daily basis. A report published by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom classified India as Tier-2 in persecuting religious minorities, the same as that of Iraq and Egypt.

In a 2018 report, USCIRF charged Hindu nationalist groups for their campaign to “Saffronize” India through violence, intimidation, and harassment against non-Hindus, Dalits (untouchable outcastes)& Adivasis (indigenous tribes and nomads).

In the current regime of the Hindu nationalist government, mob lynching of Muslims and Dalits in the name of the protection of the “cow”, an animal sanctimonious in Hinduism has become an increasingly acceptable norm of the country. Several times RSS backed faction, Bajrang Dal was accused of lynching, but members of the group were set free, as state condoned violence has spread its roots over all state institutions of the country.

Paul Richard Brass, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Washington, has called the Bajrang Dal “a somewhat pathetic but nevertheless dangerous version of the Nazi S.A.” or the brown shirts, the neo Nazi Party’s first paramilitary organization. It is shameful that ruling party is associated with RSS as well as bajrang dal.

The continuous state condoned violence against Muslims has made the ruling party questionable and has made the world’s biggest democracy look like a farce. Violence against minorities has become a norm. Most recently, violence was perpetrated by  Kapil Mishra’s hate-filled speech, but no action was taken against him. Vocal critique of government policies and their fascist agendas is heavily criminalized, critics often end up in prisons. In India, repression is not new but the type of repression directed toward a particular community is novel and previously unheard of.

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The current hindutva nationalist government wants to eradicate secularism from Indian constitutionality and the Indian state. The story of India is reminiscing what happened in Pakistan some 50 years ago.. Pakistani fundamentalist forces placed immense pressure on the then government of the country to institutionalise religion and declare Islam to be the state religion in 1973. India is moving towards the same situation. Here, only the name of the religion is different.
How the state is using each and everything to spread hatred is clearly evident from the crisis of the COVID 19 pandemic. Raj Thackeray, the leader of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, a far-right nationalist party, told local news outlets that Tablighi Jamaat members “should be shot.” For allegedly spreading the virus. Rajeev Bindal, a leader within Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, said that Tablighi members were moving through the population “like human bombs.”
Hate speech is  playing the role of fuel to violence just like during the Delhi pogrom.
In the village of Harewali, near Delhi, a mob beat Mehboob Ali, a young Muslim man, for attending Tablighi Jamaat events, and filmed the beating.
“Tell us your plan!” someone shouts in the video. “Was your plan to spread corona?”
Mr. Ali, bloodied and crouching in a field, shakes his head.
These are just mere examples. Several street vendors are coerced into abandoning their trade. Fruit and vegetable vendors were beaten up for entering a resident colony. This is the result of continuous hatred spread by the ruling party BJP and their Allies.It’s our duty to oppose this violent imposition of RSS backed hindutva nationalist government.

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On the other hand, the condition of Pakistan is worse. Throughout the country, shia muslims face hatred campaign by sunni. They openly declare shias as ‘non- muslims’. The Ahmadi community were the most ardent supporter of Jinnah and the two-nation theory, who tirelessly worked for the creation of Pakistan, are now completely unrepresented, living a life like exiles within the state. Also, non-sunni representation is mere symbolic. It’s almost invisible.
Things are worst in Pakistan due to radicalization of Pakistani society through spreading hatred via textbooks and school syllabi. Judicial system  is un capable  to protect the rights of minorities in the country.

Social Studies, later known as Pakistan Studies, was made a compulsory subject of study from Grade 5 through Grade 12 in schools, as well as undergraduate programs at colleges. It is a tool of state condoned indoctrination of the students’ minds and perpetrates the  notion of state based on the principles of Islamic supremacy.Consider this quote found on page 23 of the tenth grade Urdu textbook: “Because the Muslim religion, cul­ture and social system are different from non-Muslims, it is impossible to cooperate with Hindus.” Another pertinent example is this line from a Pak Studies book, “ There were two enemies of Muslims, the Englishmen and Hindus. Both were against the formation of Pakistan. On one hand, the Englishmen renounced the divi­sion plan of Hindustan, while on the other hand, Hindus were planning to occupy the entire Hindustan and enslave Muslims….”
If Indian majority read this they will get filled with anger. Forgetting their own hatred towards minorities. It is the most common things you can find in every dominating majority community. The party which believes that Christian,Muslims and communists are the real threat for india, whose leader Parvesh Verma, Anurag Thakur and others called in public to shot Muslims..The party whose top leader and ideologue Subranian Swamy speaks on international media “where ever Muslims population is large there is always problem. If there is more than 30% population of Muslims  in india it will create problems”.
Indians majority voted this hate mongers and elected them as ruler. They are cheering the hate mongers but at the same time feel sorry for pakistani Hindu’s and Sikhs. Even though feeling sorry is not problematic but keeping silence on the oppression of minorities in ones own country is more than problematic.
Over an eighteen-month period covering 2012 and part of 2013, Shias were subject to 67 attacks, including suicide terrorist bombings during Shia religious observances. In addition, 54 lethal attacks were also perpetrated against Ahmadis, 37 against Christians, 16 against Hindus and 3 against Sikhs during this period.231 people were killed and 691 injured in religious discriminatory violence in Pakistan 2017. Data from India is depressing as well.. More than 70 killed in lynching’s in recent years. Over 10000 killed in religious violence after 1950’s.
Ahmadis,,Shias ,Hindus,Sikhs in Pakistan and Muslims, ,Dalits and Adivasis in india are the sufferers of violent attack of fundamentalist force. Can the countries with bigotry ,hate and fundamentalism  be called free in any sense?
In order to be truly free, the citizens of both these states need to shed the fetters of religious bigotry and hatred and yearn towards the creation of tolerant and impartial institutions and societies.

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