President of India's largest socio-religious Muslim group accuses PM Modi's government of turning a blind eye to the brazen calls for persecuting the country's Muslim minority.
Indian police have registered a case after several Hindu religious and political leaders made a call for "Muslim genocide" and threatened to kill ex-premier Manmohan Singh in a three-day summit, sparking massive outrage and calls for PM Narendra Modi to rein in the radical groups tied to his right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
A case has been lodged against the offenders "for promoting disharmony, enmity, or feelings of hatred between different groups," the police chief of northern Uttrakhand state, Ashok Kumar, said on Thursday.
Over 50 monks and politicians spoke at the 72-hour-long hate speech conclave in the northern Haridwar city, giving a call for the mass murder of nearly 200 million Indian Muslims, according to local media.
The conclave was held by the controversial Hindutva figure Yati Narsinghanand from December 17 to 19, part of which was live-streamed as well.
On Thursday, head of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, India's largest socio-religious Muslim organisation, accused PM Modi's government of turning a blind eye to the open call against the Muslim community as well as hate speeches made regularly by far-right groups in an organised manner.
In a letter to the country's home minister, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Committee for Minorities, and chief minister of Uttarakhand, where the assembly was held, Maulana Mahmood Madni demanded strict action against the offenders.
"They have posed threat to the peace and communal harmony of the country. I demand strong actions must be taken against organisers and speakers," said Maulana Madni.
सोशल मीडिया पर धर्म विशेष के खिलाफ भड़काऊ भाषण देकर नफरत फैलाने संबंधी वायरल हो रहे वीडियो का संज्ञान लेते हुए वसीम रिजवी उर्फ जितेंद्र नारायण त्यागी एवं अन्य के विरुद्ध कोतवाली हरिद्वार में धारा 153A IPC के अंतर्गत मुकदमा पंजीकृत किया गया है और विधिक कार्यवाही प्रचलित है। @ANI pic.twitter.com/0NLBwPqQhV— Uttarakhand Police (@uttarakhandcops) December 23, 2021
Modi's silence criticised
PM Modi was criticised for his silence over the issue while a former military chief, a number of rights activists, and opposition politicians demanded action against the speakers, some of whom are infamous for making incendiary anti-Muslim speeches.
"Shocking! All these people making these speeches at this convention need to be arrested for serious offenses under IPC (Indian Penal Code) & UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act). Supreme Court must take suo moto notice of this," leading advocate Prashant Bhushan said on Twitter.
Former Indian army chief General Ved Malik also sought action against the far-right speakers.
"Agreed. Such speeches disturb public harmony and affect national security. Action required by Civil Admin (administration)," he tweeted.
"Munawwar Faruqui has been relentlessly punished for alleged jokes which he didn't even crack, but there is no action against the 'Dharm Sansad' members who openly called for genocide against Muslims in Haridwar! Is India still a democracy!" opposition Congress party spokesperson Shama Mohamed said.
Faruqui is a Muslim stand-up comedian who has recently suggested that he may not do any more shows amid protests by the Hindu far-right outfits. Twelve of his shows were cancelled in two months over threats of vandalism from Hindu groups.
Comedians are arrested for making imaginary jokes— Dhruv Rathee 🇮🇳 (@dhruv_rathee) December 23, 2021
But these people give open calls for genocide on a public stage and yet nothing happens to them. This is New India. https://t.co/ELFs9AxIxC
Enabling Rohingya-type ethnic cleansing
"Economic boycott won't work. Hindu groups need to update themselves. Swords look good on stage only. This battle against Muslims will be won by those with better weapons," Narsinghanand, an engineer-turned-firebrand leader, told the gathering.
Another speaker Sadhvi Annapurna, general secretary of the Hindu Mahasabha [Hindu Grand Assembly], called for the mass murder of Muslims, according to the English news website The Wire.
"Nothing is possible without weapons. If you want to eliminate their population then kill them. Be ready to kill and be ready to go to jail. Even if 100 of us are ready to kill 20 lakhs [2 million] of them (Muslims), then we will be victorious," she said.
Speakers cited 2017 mass atrocities against Rohingya Muslims and their exodus from Myanmar as an example and called for a similar policy to enable Muslims' ethnic cleansing in India.
A 2017 army crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, which the UN says could amount to genocide, has triggered an exodus of more than 740,000 members of the community, mainly to Bangladesh.
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"Every Hindu should pick up weapons and exterminate the Muslims"— TRT World (@trtworld) December 23, 2021
Indian monks call for "Muslim genocide" in a three-day hate speech summit held by Hindutva figure Yati Narsinghanand in Haridwar, India
Read more: https://t.co/upvQqTqklF pic.twitter.com/cUgSNcTxco
New intolerant India
Modi's election in 2014 emboldened hardline groups who see India as a Hindu nation and its 200 million-strong Muslim minority as potentially dangerous outsiders.
In recent years, Hindu groups have sprayed cow dung at Islamic prayer sites and called worshippers terrorists and Pakistanis –– referencing India's Muslim-majority neighbour and arch-rival.
Modi is a lifelong member of the hardline Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Hindu nationalist group.
He was briefly barred from the United States over religious riots in Gujarat in 2002 when he was state chief minister.
Since his coming to power, a string of lynchings of Muslims by Hindu mobs for so-called cow protection -–– a sacred animal for many Hindus –– and other hate crimes has sown fear and despair in the community.
Several states have brought in legislation criminalising conversion to Christianity and Islam, including through marriage –– or "love jihad" as Hindu hardliners call it.
In recent months, Hindu protesters in northern Gurgaon city have prevented Muslims from praying on Fridays.
At one site, Muslims were heckled and forced to chant slogans such as "Hail Lord Ram" –– a Hindu deity –– that have proliferated under Modi among his supporters.
Critics say that Muslims have no place in Modi's new intolerant India, where Hindu zealots are dictating government policy.