Bulldozing is a method of state repression in India to instill fear in Muslims: Analyst

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By Syed Zafar Mehdi

Bulldozing is a technique of state repression used intentionally by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India against minority Muslims to instill fear in them, says a political observer.

In an interview with the Press TV website, Dr. Ayesha Ray, Professor in the Department of Political Science at King’s College London, said demolitions are a “systematic effort to create fear” among the minority population in the Hindu-majority country and can turn into “ethnic cleansing” if it goes unchecked.

Earlier this week, more than 300 Muslim homes and business properties were razed down by the right-wing government in India’s Haryana state amid an escalation in communal tensions.

Tensions boiled after the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a far-right Hindu religious group, and its youth wing Bajrang Dal, took out a procession in Nuh, Haryana’s only Muslim-majority district, about 85 kilometers from the capital New Delhi.

Hindu groups claimed that Muslim residents pelted stones on the procession, but eyewitnesses deny the accusations, saying the extremist Hindu groups deliberately came to Nuh to fuel tensions.

Before the provocative march, a notorious Hindu extremist Monu Manesar, accused of killing two Muslim men for carrying cow meat, had released a video on Facebook.

In the video, he called on Hindus to join him in the VHP-Bajrang Dal procession to Nuh.

On Tuesday, Punjab and Haryana High Court halted the government’s demolition drive, asking whether the measure was an “exercise of ethnic cleansing” by the state.

“Apparently, without any demolition orders and notices, the law-and-order problem is being used as a ruse to bring down buildings without following the procedure established by law,” said the bench.

Dr. Ray, who is the author of The Soldier and the State in India: Nuclear Weapons, Counterinsurgency, and the Transformation of Indian Civil-Military Relations(2013), said the court decision is “significant” and “probably the first time any court in India has used the term ethnic cleansing.”

“These developments are definitely serious though I tend to use words like ethnic cleansing and genocide carefully,” she said in a conversation with the Press TV website.

“Having said that, I do think the demolitions are a systematic effort to create fear among the minority population and yes, if unchecked, can turn into ethnic cleansing.”

Anti-Muslim violence has dramatically surged in India since the BJP government came to power in 2014, according to rights activists, with Hindu vigilantes openly issuing genocide calls.

Last year, a group of far-right Hindu leaders assembled on the banks of the Ganges River in the northern Indian city of Haridwar and called for the genocide of minority Muslims.

“Any calls for genocide must be taken seriously and the perpetrators must be arrested,” Dr. Ray said.

“Yes, such violent rhetoric does pose a serious threat to the lives of India’s Muslim minorities as it encourages violent acts to be committed against them.”

She further said the rise of majoritarian Hindutva nationalism and frequent acts of violence against Indian Muslims is a “violation of the principles in the Indian constitution.”

“The nation was built on secular foundations where every citizen has the right and freedom to exercise their religion without threats and attacks. The corrosion of human rights and the direction toward majoritarian violence certainly undermines Indian democracy,” she told the Press TV website.

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