A planned pogrom

In last 30 years, India witnessed three violent riots against its Muslim minority which forms 18% of its total population.

One that was executed in the aftermath of Babdri Masjid demolition. More than thousand died in the carnage. The Supreme Court of India called that a “crime” which shook the secular fabric of Indian constitution.

Second blood-soaked incident took place at Gujrat in 2002. Independent sources reveal that more than two thousand people died in the bloodbath, most were Muslims. “Angry mobs of Hindus dragged women and young girls out of their homes and raped them”, writes Aditya Chakrabortty in The Guardian.

The third horrendous eventuality befell a few weeks ago in the metropolis of India where more than 50, mostly Muslims, were dispatched to the callous valley of death.

All three incidents have two very important commonalities. First, each gory incident carry the allegation of Bharatia Janata Party (BJP) being the main instigator behind the mass homicide. Second, each incident was planned and doctored, and not the outcome of some naturally developed untoward matter.

Santosh Dubey, named in the Gujrat massacre case, told the The Wire in 2017 that they (rioters) gathered at the site of the mosque on the commands of L.K. Advani (BJP president) and other Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders. They were told to erase the sign of the slavery of 500 years.

The recent orgy of violence started on the night of 23rd of February in Delhi. Fuming crowds of Hindus armed with pistols, iron rods, crowbars, hammers, gas cylinders, big jerry cans of acid and petrol and other heavy tools attacked Muslims, their houses and shops.

In one such incident of violence, a man named Ashraf was intercepted by a mob of Hindus and asked for his identity. Disturbed and dismayed, he could not properly respond to them; so his trousers were shoved down. His circumcision provided them the reason to get irked and inflamed. So, he was thrashed to death.

The Chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission, Zafarul Islam Khan, says, “It was one-sided violence. Most of the damage has been done to Muslims’ properties, houses, shops, and even mosques. Muslims bore the major brunt. The maximum damage was executed with local support. It was a highly planned riot.”

Ashutosh Varshney, a Brown University professor and author of the prize-winning Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India, believes that last week’s riots in Delhi bear hallmarks of an organized pogrom.

During the recent height of violence in Delhi, Gur Teg Bahadur in Delhi hospital used to be thronged with people who stood there with doleful demeanours ready to receive sad news with heavy hearts about their dear ones who somehow became prey to the ire of hateful mob of Hindus bent to metamorphose India into a Hindu Rashtra.

The dead bodies, they received, bore signs of worst torture. Some were not identifiable because they were found from gutters and drains, so they were recognized through DNA tests.

Many families are still on the hunt to locate their missing members. They have been to many morgues in the area to find their dear ones’ bodies.

Now, the rampage has considerably subsided, yet the fear still looms on the people subsisting there. Symbolic and descriptive illustration which identify a person belonging to a particular minority group has become a reason of threat. Muslims in the areas say that they have ceased saying “salam” and “Allah Hafiz” in public.

Adeeba, a student living in the suburbs of Delhi, forbids her friends to call her real name during travel in the metro bus. She fearfully says, “Mera Metro ka naam Anjali hai, aur ghar ka naam Adeeba.” (My ‘name’ in the Metro is Anjali, and at home, it is Adeeba.)

A very important development has taken place in the meantime. The families of the victim opine that the attackers, mostly outsiders, carried out attacks on the Muslims and their houses with quite a precision. The rioters knew where Muslim houses and shops are. Only Muslim houses and shops were singled out and attacked. This points towards a very dangerous revelation – the assaults were made in connivance with the active support of the neighbours who have been living with their Muslim counterparts for decades and centuries.

Communal violence is not new to India. Hate lurked there but it was never so much virulent as it has turned now. The desire in India for bolstering the pluralistic, secular, democratic and diverse culture seems to lose the battle in the face of imperious norm of ultra-sentimentalism steeped in the poison of chauvinistic intolerance.

Under any murky atmosphere where things are turning into dilapidated forms, media’s role becomes paramount – it acts as a guide and mentor that suggests ways out. But here the vista presents a very gloomy picture. Journalists have become salesmen, selling proudly and gleefully the hate-ideology with as much verve as the ultra-nationalist Hindus are executing in the streets of Delhi.

What may befall next? Will this monster of bigotry keep wreaking its vengeance over the Muslims in India? Will the vulnerable denizens ever find moments of respite? The answer is that there does not seem to be any glimmer of hope in the near future as long as politicians keep instigating the mobs, media keep fabricating realities, intelligentsias keep crafting logics to support the oppressors and, above all, the cruel planners keep architecting the designs to snub the minorities through heinous ways.

Muhammad Tahir Iqbal
The writer is an educationist and historian.
Email: tahiriqbalstars

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