When an ideology of hate captures state power, it leads to social, political and economic disorder in society. The weak are terrorized and often murdered in cold blood with the connivance of the very institutions that are supposed to protect them.
This is what is being witnessed in India since Narendra Modi’s rise to power in 2014. Hindutva, an extremist ideology of hate and hell-bent on exterminating religious minorities, especially Muslims, has captured state power. Its ideologues make no secret of their demonic plans. They want India to be an exclusivist Hindu state in which there is no room for any other religious minority.
Since Muslims constitute the largest minority in India—more than 200 million—they are a special target. Mosques are targeted and destroyed; Muslim businesses are boycotted to cripple them financially. And, they are discriminated against in education, jobs and all other sectors of society.
Hindutva terrorists use state institutions as well as their own stormtroopers—the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)—to attack and murder Muslims. Today, being a Muslim in India is sufficient reason to be killed.
The Hindutva brigade’s murderous rampage has now extended overseas as well. In September, they attacked Muslims in Leicester, in the East Midland region of Britain. Seen as a model of multiculturalism, Hindus and Muslims had lived in harmony for decades until Hindutva terrorists arrived.
While the British media portrayed it as “communal violence,” as if both sides were equally guilty, it was the Hindutva terrorists who shattered the city’s harmonious atmosphere. The New York Times got it right when its headline of October 2, 2022 said: ‘Tensions That Roiled English City Have Roots in India’.
Politicians in Britain are equally responsible for turning a blind eye to the rise of hate groups like Hindutva. Obviously, getting Hindu votes is more important than standing up for justice even if it is at the expense of social harmony in society.
Some Hindu cabinet ministers, including the former Home Secretary Priti Patel, have also played a divisive role. She launched the policy to expel all refugees arriving from the Middle East and West Asia to Rwanda. The overwhelming majority of these refugees are Muslims escaping wars imposed by the west. No such deportations have been ordered for refugees from Ukraine because they happen to be white!
Even the Indian High Commission in London jumped into the fray accusing Muslims in Leicester of instigating violence against Hindus. Lies and deceit are standard features of Indian policy. The Indian High Commission tried to blame the victims for the Leicester mayhem.
The trouble erupted in late August following Pakistan’s defeat to India in a cricket match. Hooded Hindu men, many of them armed with metal bars, marched through predominantly Muslims neighbourhoods shouting “Death to Pakistan.” This was meant to provoke Muslims, and it did.
Soon, a group of Muslims gathered to shout back at the Hindutva terrorists. Fights broke out, several people were injured but far from apprehending those instigating the violence, the police merely tried to separate the groups.
Why this kid-glove treatment of the Hindu fascists? One can imagine what their reaction would be if Muslims had indulged in such violence.
From Leicester, the Hindutva terrorist brigade spread their hate ideology to Wembley. An anti-Hindu poster was plastered outside a Hindu temple in the London locality allegedly by an organization calling itself ‘Apna Muslim’. The Hindutva terrorists immediately pointed the finger at Muslims. Even the local member of parliament, Barry Gardiner, jumped into the fray and tweeted the alleged threat without verifying its authenticity. There is no such group as ‘Apna Muslims’.
Valent Projects, an investigative disinformation consultancy, did some digging and found out that the original tweet, emanating from foreign accounts, was fake. The British web portal, 5pillars UK, reported that Valent Projects communicated this information to Gardiner but he made no attempt to retract his earlier tweet.
The Hindutva brigade’s poisonous propaganda and terrorist tactics have found a home in the US as well, especially in the state of New Jersey. The Hindu community is concentrated in the Middlesex County. According to a study by Migration Policy Institute, at least 10% of US migrants from India reside in New Jersey.
The Indian community has contributed to business, better education standards at schools and raised the value of real estate. With Modi’s rise to power in India, Hindutva extremists intruded into previously largely peaceful Hindu communities in the US. The situation began to change rapidly.
From peaceful co-existence, relations between Hindus and Muslims (even when both had migrated from India) began to deteriorate. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), its ideologues and elements of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) established off-shoots in the US. Such organizations as the Hindu American Political Action Committee (HAPAC), the Overseas Friends of the BJP (OSFBJP), the Indian Businesses Association in NJ (IBA), and the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) sprang up.
These groups have been spreading hate and targeting anyone who dares expose their racist ideology. One highly-acclaimed academic in the US, Dr Audrey Truschke of Rutgers University, has been the special target of their hate campaign. She specializes in South Asian history.
“She frequently receives hate mail laced with death and rape threats from Hindu nationalists for her work on Muslim rulers of India… She said, she was notified by the Rutgers police about a violent threat made against her on a university phone number. The matter is under investigation,” according to the Washington Post (October 2021).
“She is battling a lawsuit from the Hindu American Foundation for what it says are defamatory statements. A group of Hindu students from Rutgers petitioned the administration that she not be allowed to teach courses on Hinduism and India. She often requires armed security for public speaking events.”
Rutgers University refused to submit to Hindu extremist threats. Other South Asian scholars from North America have also taken note of these extremist terror tactics. The repeated smear and misinformation campaigns against scholars have led them to create a guide for academics facing harassment from Hindu extremists on how to defend themselves and educate others.
“These right-wing groups have become significantly emboldened and virulent in their attacks over the past few years, deploying standard Hindu nationalist strategies of disinformation campaigns, trolling, threatening and filing lawsuits, intimidation, and pressuring employers. Such attacks seek to silence a wide range of scholars, including those who work on Indo-Muslim history, Hinduism, Kashmir, and, of course, Hindu nationalism,” Truschke told VOA.
American academics have taken other steps. Last year, they held a virtual conference titled ‘Dismantling Global Hindutva’. It was held over three days (September 10-12, 2021) and was co-sponsored by 53 universities. These included such acclaimed institutions as Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Berkeley, the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania and Rutgers. The conference also received letters of support from 1100 academics worldwide as well as 38 Associations of Scholars.
The Dismantling Global Hindutva website points out that it makes a clear distinction between Hinduism and Hindutva. The Hindu extremists want to conflate the two.
The threat of Hindutva extremism is real. Western regimes ignore it at their own peril endangering the lives of their citizens. Putting trade and financial benefits above the lives of their citizens is a poor policy choice that will have long-term implications for their societies.