The state-sponsored persecution of minorities and mob violence has put the Narendra Modi’s India of today at the risk of tearing itself apart.
The hate crimes and violence against minorities including Muslims, Christians, Dalit and others were on constant surge being provoked by ruling BJP leaders, backed the discriminatory legislation and also stamped by the Indian judiciary.
Since Modi’s reelection in 2019, the government has pushed controversial policies that explicitly ignore Muslims’ rights and are intended to disenfranchise millions of Muslims.
Around two hundred million Muslims account for about 15 percent of the population – by far the largest minority group.
The religious persecution has dramatically accelerated under Prime Minister Narendra Modi who rose through the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a paramilitary Hindu organization promoting Hindu supremacy.
“But the reality of India includes largely uncontrolled — and often state‐encouraged — violence against religious minorities. Muslims, the most populous minority, are frequently targeted. Christians, a much smaller, more vulnerable group, are also brutally mistreated,” Doug Bandow, Senior Fellow at US-based Cato Institute wrote in an article.
He said Modi’s policies had been much more “dirigiste than predicted.” Instead, he has gained political success and strengthened control of Indian politics by inflaming Hindu nationalism.
In its latest annual report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) found a significant deterioration in freedom of religion in India. The report explains:
“The Indian government escalated its promotion and enforcement of policies — including those promoting a Hindu‐nationalist agenda — that negatively affect Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and other religious minorities. The government continued to systemize its ideological vision of a Hindu state at both the national and state levels through the use of both existing and new laws and structural changes hostile to the country’s religious minorities.”
Last year, the “Indian authorities intensified and broadened their crackdown on activist groups and the media in 2022 … The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government used abusive and discriminatory policies to repress Muslims and other minorities,” Meenakshi Ganguly, Human Rights Watch’s director for South Asia, explained said in a report.
The government action, including the continued enforcement of anti‐conversion laws against non‐Hindus, has created a culture of impunity for nationwide campaigns of threats and violence by mobs and vigilante groups, including against Muslims and Christians accused of conversion activities.
A third of states now restrict conversions, seeking to prevent people from choosing their own faith. By the end of last year, more than 50 pastors had been imprisoned under anti‐conversion laws in the state of Uttar Pradesh alone.
The problem is long‐standing: In 2021, there were 75 violent assaults in Chhattisgarh.
Violent attacks have been perpetrated across the country under the guise of protecting cows. Vigilante mobs, often organized over social media, have attacked religious minorities—including Muslims, Christians, and Dalits—under suspicion of eating beef, slaughtering cows, or transporting cattle for slaughter.
In one case, three Muslim men were lynched on suspicion of cow smuggling. In another, two men accused of the same offense were beaten — one to death. The problem has become so serious that Human Rights Watch issued a detailed report on the phenomenon four years ago.
India ranks just 150th of 180 nations when it comes to freedom of the press, according to the 2022 World Freedom Press Index. Simply reporting on religious persecution has become dangerous.
In the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Gujarat, public calls were made by some Hindu groups for the economic boycott of Muslim businesses.
Hate crimes including violence against Dalits and Adivasis were committed with impunity. More than 50,000 suspected crimes against members of Scheduled Castes and more than 9,000 crimes against Adivasi people were reported in 2021.
“India has hit a crisis point. It has never been a truly liberal democracy, but it is slipping ever further toward an authoritarian state with periodic elections. Having solidified its hold on power, the Modi government could do a policy volte‐face without serious political risk. Otherwise, it risks sacrificing the opportunity to match a struggling China economically and politically,” Doug Bandow remarked.
He said Narendra Modi’s tenure has been tainted by increasing authoritarianism and persecution. “India risks tearing itself apart before it becomes the next great power,” Doug Bandow added.
Disclaimer: Authoritarianism, persecution of minorities put India at risk of tearing apart - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view