During last few years have seen a disturbing rise in incidents of violence against minorities in India, particularly since the rise of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leader Narendra Modi to power. In recent years, there has been increasing concern about the government’s role in promoting a climate of intolerance and discrimination against minority communities, including Muslims, Dalits, and other marginalized groups.
Muslims have been a primary target of violence in recent years, with mobs attacking and lynching Muslims on suspicion of eating beef, transporting cattle, or even just because they were Muslim. These attacks have been linked to the government’s promotion of cow protection, which has been used to justify vigilante violence against Muslims. In 2015, the BJP-led government in the western state of Maharashtra passed a law banning the slaughter of bulls and bullocks, with a punishment of up to five years in jail or a fine of Rs.10,000 for the offense. Similar laws exist in other states with significant Muslim populations.
Furthermore, senior BJP leaders have made inflammatory statements, linking Muslims with terrorism and suggesting that they do not deserve equal treatment as Indian citizens. Another group that has been increasingly targeted by violence is the Dalits or the ‘untouchables’ as they used to be called. They are a socially and economically marginalized community that has suffered caste discrimination for generations. The BJP’s rise to power has emboldened upper castes, who have taken to violence to assert their dominance over the Dalits. In 2016, clashes broke out in the western state of Gujarat, where members of the Dalit community were beaten for allegedly killing a cow. The violence was widely condemned, but similar incidents continue to take place across the country.
In May 2018, two Dalits were beaten to death by a mob in northern India after they were suspected of stealing cattle. The government’s apathy towards these crimes has emboldened the perpetrators, resulting in a spate of attacks on Dalits. Aside from physical violence against minorities, there has also been a systematic campaign to suppress their voices and intimidate those who speak out against the government. Human rights organizations, journalists, and academics who criticize the government’s policies have been threatened, harassed, and even arrested.
In August 2018, the government arrested five human rights activists, claiming they were linked to Maoist insurgents. The timing of the arrests – on the eve of Independence Day – was seen as a clear message to anyone who dared to speak out. The government has also used laws such as the sedition law, which dates back to the colonial era, to silence dissent. In 2016, activists of the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi were arrested for allegedly shouting anti-India slogans at a protest event. The arrest sparked widespread protests and condemnation, with many arguing that the sedition law was being used to stifle free speech and the right to dissent. Moreover, the government’s emphasis on nationalism and its use of symbols such as the national flag and the national anthem has also been seen as attempts to stifle dissent and promote a conformist, intolerant culture. The government has made it mandatory for students to sing the national anthem at the beginning of each school day and has threatened to take action against those who do not show sufficient respect for the flag.
There are also concerns about the government’s efforts to manipulate history to promote a particular version of India’s past. In 2017, the government appointed a committee to rewrite India’s history texts, which critics say will be used to rewrite history to suit the government’s ideology. Similarly, the government has also tried to suggest that India was always a Hindu country, despite the fact that India has been home to various religions and cultures for thousands of years.
In conclusion, the rise of violence against minorities & Dalits in India is a cause for grave concern. The government’s promotion of nationalist and religious ideologies has created an atmosphere in which discrimination and intolerance are increasingly being normalized. It is crucial that the government takes action to address these issues and ensure that all citizens are treated equally, regardless of their caste, religion, or ethnic background. Furthermore, the government must protect the rights of all citizens to free speech and dissent, and ensure that those who speak out against it are not intimidated or punished. If India is to uphold its status as a vibrant democracy, the government must take these steps immediately.