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Red Flag Alert for Genocide - India

Red Flag Alert for Genocide - India

On September 16, a video circulating on Twitter showed a crowd of Hindu nationalists dancing to songs promoting religious hatred in front of a mosque while chanting insults to Muslims. This recent event is one among a growing number of hate-inspired acts that have been taking place in India over the past decades. The Lemkin Institute is therefore releasing a Red Flag Alert for India in view of widespread Hindu supremacism within Indian political culture and the genocidal ideological current that has taken root in a country often described as the world’s largest democracy. We are raising the alarm about the looming genocidal threat to India's 200 million Indian Muslims.

Similar anti-Muslim events occurred just months ago, when Hindu nationalists in the Biswanath district forced Muslims to eat pork while in Madhya Pradesh state’s Khargone city large processions of Hindu nationalists marched on Muslim neighborhoods and religious buildings while playing incendiary music that praised hate-speech against the Muslim minority community. Moreover, Muslim houses have also been destroyed in several states, notably Uttar Pradesh and Madhy Pradesh, while Muslim individuals are lynched on a daily basis thoughout the country.

In general terms, the causes of the anti-Muslim hate have their roots in the history of India, notably in Hindu resentment of the Muslim conquests of India from the 13th through the 17th centuries and, more recently, in the British imperial policy of divide and rule, which is seen by Hindu nationalists as the reason for the development of a Muslim political identity. This rhetoric of religious hatred and violence against the Indian Muslim population escalated after the partition of the Indian subcontinent into two states: one with a Hindu majority (India), the other with a Muslim majority (Pakistan).

In recent years, the incidence of anti-Muslim persecution has increased at an alarming rate, notably after the 2014 election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP has nurtured a profound sense of Hindu victimhood, persuading millions of Hindus that they are facing existential threats from the Indian Muslim population. Over the past two years, Modi’s Hindutva agenda seems to haveescalated dramatically, especially after the adoption of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), an overtly anti-Muslim law, and after the revocation of the constitutional autonomy and special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir (former states mostly inhabited by Muslims). These legal reforms are evidence of India’s drift away from the secular pluralist roots of its constitution.

The international community must act to shore up Indian democracy by supporting the vital civil society organizations that have been working for decades towards communal peace and the preservation of multiculturalism. We also urge the international community to vigorously denounce the institutionalized genocidal ideology of Hindu supremacy in India. This will involve, inter alia, close monitoring of the situation on the ground and quick actions to forestall an escalation of anti-Muslim violence.

The very bases of the Indian secular and democratic state for which independence leader Mohandas Gandhi fought – and for which he was murdered – are being shaken in an increasingly violent and systematic manner due to the growing popularity of Hindutva. We stand in solidarity with all Indians who recognize that the very essence of all religions is to foster human welfare and to enhance peaceful human relationships across differences.

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