COVID-19 is not the only virus afflicting India. Another, more deadly virus, called Hindutva, rages through a segment of the Indian population. This virus has strange characteristics. It infects people’s brain but does not cause them physical or other harm. Instead, it sends them into a rage against Muslims. This was evident during the three-day pogrom in Delhi, the Indian capital, from February 23-26.
Hindu mobs armed with clubs, iron rods, guns and knives attacked the northeastern locality of predominantly Muslim neighborhood of Shiv Vihar in Old Mustafabad. Muslims were not only beaten up, in many instances their skulls were crushed, and had their hearts and lungs punctured with knives. Their properties were vandalized and set on fire.
An elderly 85-year-old woman, living on the third floor of an apartment building could not escape when the Hindu mob set it on fire. She was burned to death. In another incident, a woman and her baby were buried alive. When the Hindu mob had satiated its blood lust, 42 Muslims were left dead and hundreds injured. Damage to Muslim properties ran in the millions. Most survivors decided to flee the locality.
The Hindus rampaged through Shiv Vihar where poor Muslims reside. It coincided with the visit of US President Donald Trump to India (February 23-25). Far from condemning the horrific violence against a hapless minority, Trump only said my friend [Indian] Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi is committed to a ‘pluralistic’ India. The hapless Muslims of Shiv Vihar are clearly not included in Modi’s ‘pluralistic’ society. Surely, Trump could not be unaware of Modi’s fascist background and his upbringing in the fascist outfit, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) whose avowed aim is to turn India into an exclusivist Hindu state.
The RSS has more than 6 million members that receive regular military training. In the past, they were dismissed as a fringe group but with Modi’s assumption of power, they have become mainstream. Even India’s secularists are terrified of crossing their path. RSS members are vicious and resort to violence at the slightest pretext.
In the case of Muslims, they need no pretext. It is enough to arouse their wrath to learn that someone is a Muslim. The anti-Muslim virus has infected the police force as well. This was evident in the most recent Hindu mob attack on Muslims in Delhi. Far from protecting them, the police joined in attacking Muslims.
On the third day of the Hindu mob’s rampage and as word spread, a group of doctors from the Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum went to the area to investigate the situation firsthand. The team included Dr Vikas Bajpai, Assistant Professor, Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi; Dr Harjit Bhatti, Former President, Resident Doctors Association, All India Institute of Medical Scientists (AIIMS); Dr Sumitran, consultant radiologist with a government hospital in Delhi, and five doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences that wished to remain anonymous.
The medical team first visited Al-Hind hospital to examine photographic records and take oral testimonies of doctors, volunteers and ordinary people. In their report, they quoted Dr. Naseer Ahmad who narrated the situation at his hospital.
“These people [the attackers] had so severely assaulted the victims that they were dying of agony, and we had nothing in our hands. Despite being medical doctors, we couldn’t do much because some had had their hearts punctured, some had their lungs punctured, while kidneys of others—all vital organs of the body. Some had had their skull pried open from both sides with knives. Some patients presented with iron girdles inserted into their skull. Police had laid down a three-month pregnant woman and beaten her up brutally. The Imam of Farooqia Masjid was pulled out from his chamber and beaten up by the police. Acid was thrown on the face of the Imam of the Masjid in Shiv Vihar. We were helpless in providing any treatment to him due to lack of infrastructure; still we sent him from here after stabilizing his condition. We do not know whether he is living or dead.”
Doctors at Al-Hind Hospital narrated that despite needing ambulances to bring the wounded to hospital, no government body stepped forward to help. They were equally critical of Muslim organizations saying no one was willing to help.
The number of patients that arrived at Al-Hind hospital starting on the night of February 23 reflects what was underway in the Muslim locality. Instead of the hospital’s normal intake of 30 to 40 patients daily, most seeking treatment for common ailments, more than 200 patients flooded the hospital on February 24. The following day, this figure jumped to 350 to 400, all suffering horrific wounds.
Nearly seventy-five percent of injuries were caused either by pellets or bullets, the team of doctors found. Most of the injured said their assailants used firearms freely. The majority of other injuries were orthopaedic consisting of fractured limbs or skull. There were also cases of people that had sustained injuries with blunt objects such as clubs. Others had burns on their bodies.
The team of doctors also found Muslims that had bullets lodged in their bodies but they were too scared to seek help. They went into hiding for two days, afraid that the police would catch them and drag them away accusing them of being involved in the mayhem. It was only after the Hindu mobs left their locality and the police dispersed that they ventured out and sought help at Al-Hind Hospital.
The hospital staff said that they repeatedly tried to contact the police but they were ignored. Ambulance services were similarly non-responsive. This was not by chance. Police in Delhi is under the control of the Indian Home Ministry that is headed by Amit Shah, one of the most bigoted members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Together with Modi, Amit Shah represents the extreme rightwing of the party and answers directly to the RSS head. In 2002, when he was chief minister of Gujarat, Modi had presided over the pogrom of Muslims in the state. He had ordered the police not to help Muslims many of whom were hacked to death or burnt alive.
The Muslims’ pogrom in Delhi was not the first and will not be the last. The Hindutva fascist brigade is gaining strength in India and enjoys official patronage. It is an extremely dangerous time for Muslims anywhere in the world but it is particularly grim for them in India.
India is neither a democracy nor a secular state. It is a fascist state run by hate-filled Hindus who admire Hitler’s ideology of Nazism. It is quite revealing that Modi’s India has such close ties with the Zionist state of Israel.