Horrific Hindu Nationalist Violence Against Muslims Continues In Delhi

In India’s capital city of Delhi, 43 are now dead and thousands more are injured after a sharp uptick in Hindu nationalist violence against Muslims, spurred by the rhetoric and actions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s populist government. Over four days, a mob of Hindu nationalists set mosques on fire and dragged Muslims out of their homes, burned them alive, beat them in the streets, or lynched them. According to The Guardian, the mob also burned and destroyed several businesses and properties and “[i]n streets where Hindus and Muslims had lived peacefully side by side, bodies lay bloodied alongside discarded and burned-out cars, bikes, shattered glass and smouldering shopfronts.” In all of this, the Indian police are also accused of aiding and abetting this violence. The Hindu mobs stopped men they suspected to be Muslims in the streets and demanded to see identification cards. According to The Guardian, if men refused to show those cards, “they were forced to show whether or not they were circumcised, as is common among Muslim men.”

Mohammad Zubair, a 37-year-old Muslim man, described his horrific experience of being beat by thirty strangers. “The blows kept raining on my head, hands and back,” said Zubair. “I did not ask them to stop beating me. I became silent, tried to hold my breath and stiffen my body.” The Guardian said that while recalling this, Zubair began to cry. “First I asked, ‘Why are you attacking me? What wrong have I done?’ But they did not listen to my words and went on hitting me from all sides. They were shouting maro shale mulleko [kill the bastard Muslim] and jai Sri Ram [a Hindu nationalist slogan]. There were many other men who stood by who did not come to save me.” Shakir, the brother-in-law of a brutally murdered man named Musharaff, explained that these riots forced his family to leave Delhi and return to their ancestral village. “We have never felt threatened and always lived peacefully with our Hindu brothers,” he said. “But I don’t feel safe anywhere in Delhi now.”

It is difficult to think of words strong enough to condemn the events taking place in India. It is easy to forget the human capacity for evil or believe it to be a thing of the past until one learns about events such as this taking place right now. As India allows this to continue, they are actively sanctioning a genocide of a religious minority within their borders. As Muslims are dragged out of their homes and horrifically murdered for their religion, images of the Holocaust come to mind, and this is the situation India will have if allowed to continue. While Modi and his party are in power, this violent nationalist movement will not stop. It is the role of other countries to become involved, placing sanctions both economic and diplomatic on the country and working to punish them in nonviolent ways. Countries must also be welcoming to refugees fleeing this persecution. The world cannot remain silent.

Since the partitioning of India to create Pakistan as a Muslim state in 1947, violence has been a part of India’s legacy, with as many as two million people dying in the fighting and aftermath surrounding the creation of that state. Riots continue to erupt from time to time in India, with the Hindus holding an 80% majority in the country while Muslims make up a mere 14%. While their relationship began to formally fracture in the 1960s and 70s, these tensions reached a peak in 1992 when a Hindu mob consisting of thousands, including several members of India’s current ruling party, destroyed a mosque. That party, Bharatiya Janata, took control of India’s government in 2014, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the head. According to The Guardian, the BJP “is the political wing…a militant Hindu nationalist paramilitary organization that has been accused repeatedly of orchestrating attacks on Muslims” with the BJP believing “that India should be a Hindu, not a secular, nation.” Modi, who was accused of encouraging sectarian riots that killed more than one thousand while serving as chief minister of Gujarat in 2002, was reelected in a landslide in 2019. In December of that same year, a citizenship act was passed that, according to The Guardian, “grants citizenship for refugees of every major South Asian religion except Muslims.” This official act, combined with increasingly hateful and violent rhetoric, led to the outbreak of these riots.

The recent violence against Muslims in India comes as the next in a long line of attacks on the minority group. Just because this is part of India’s history does not mean these atrocities can continue. The Hindu mobs in this country, led by the hate of Modi and his party members, show the true human capacity for evil and must be stopped. In the midst of this violence, there are stories of Hindus hiding and protecting their Muslim neighbors. Even amid the beginnings of this genocide, there are still people doing good for their fellow man. We must support these people and learn from their example, showing the courage as an international community to condemn and stop this systematic and deliberate murdering of a religious minority.

Breanna McCann