Exposing 300 days of Modi’s rule: Civil society responds to unbridled targeted hate, violence, impunity

New Delhi — The official patronage and impetus given to the divisive and corrosive politics of the Sangh Parivar in the 300 days of the government of Mr. Narendra Modi has endangered the security of religious minorities, assaulted national institutions and the education system, civil society and political leaders, academics, and social activists said at a “Zulmaton ke daur mein” Dharna at Jantar Mantar, 19 March.
Prime Minister Modi came into office riding a promise of development, his election campaign fuelled by unbridled hate against Muslims and Christians. Development remains a mirage, but the hate has fuelled violence across the country.

The speakers condemned the rape of a 74 year old Nun in West Bengal in an attack on a convent and school last week (14 March) which has sent shockwaves throughout India, and the world.

A report of the aggravating communal situation in these 300 says listed least 43 deaths in over 600 cases of violence, 149 targeting Christians and the rest Muslims. The number of dead is other than the 108 killed in Assam in attacks by armed tribal political groups on Muslims.

Desecration and destruction of churches, assault on pastors, illegal police detention of church workers, and denial of Constitutional rights of Freedom of Faith aggravate the coercion and terror unleashed in campaigns of Ghar Wapsi and cries of Love Jihad. Since May 2014, there has been a marked shift in public discourse.

There has been a relentless foregrounding of communal identities, a ceaseless attempt to create a divide between ‘us’ and ‘them’. The BJP leaders guaranteed to abuse, ridicule and threaten minorities. Hate statements by Union and state ministers, threats by Members of Parliament, state politicians, and cadres in saffron caps or Khaki shorts resonate through the landscape. But most cases go unreported, unrecorded by police.

The Prime Minister refuses to reprimand his Cabinet colleagues, restrain the members of his party members or silence the Sangh Parivar which claims to have propelled him to power in New Delhi. Mr. Modi calls for a ten-year moratorium on communal and caste violence. His government soon declares Christmas to be a “Good Governance Day” in honour of the BJP leader and former Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee. There are fears at a severe whittling down of the 15 Point Programme for Minorities, a lifeline for many severely economic backward communities, and specially their youth seeking higher education and professional training.

Mr. Modi’s “assurance” to religious minorities is challenged and countered by Mr. Mohan Bhagwat, the head of the powerful Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, who asserts, repeatedly, that every Indian is a Hindu, and minorities will have to learn their place in the country.

Speaking at the 50th Anniversary of foundation of its religious wing, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Mr. Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS Sarsanghchalak bluntly stated that “Hindutva is the identity of India and it has the capacity to swallow other identities. We just need to restore those capacities.”

In Cuttack, he asserted that India is a Hindu state and “citizens of Hindustan should be known as Hindus”.

Sadhvi Prachi, a central minister, Members of Parliament Sakshi Maharaj and Adityanath are among those urging measures to check Muslims, including encouraging Hindu women to have from four to ten children each. In Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and other states, the terror, physical violence and social ostracizing of Dalit and Tribal Christians, in particular, continues.

The 300 days have also seen an assault on democratic structures, the education and knowledge system, Human Rights organizations and Rights Defenders and coercive action using the Intelligence Bureau and the systems if the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act and the Passport laws to crack down on NGOs working in areas of empowerment of the marginalized sections of society, including Dalits, Tribals, Fishermen and women, and issues of environment, climate, forests, land and water rights. This report is focused on issues of communally targeted violence and the politics of hate and divisiveness that emanates from a thesis of religious nationalism.

“We realize that these 300 days have seen erosion of democratic values, a reversal or dilution of existing legislation which was pro-poor. Environmental norms have been diminished to an extent that now they will be almost non existent, threatening the environment and the climate. Land acquisition laws are being changed to benefit crony capital. We need to respond to all these challenges that threaten the Idea of India and our citizenship. But our immediate focus is on the threat to secularism, which underpins our nationhood.”

The rally also saw performances by well known artistes and cultural groups, including Asmita, IPTA Delhi , Janam, Kumar Ambuj, Manglesh Dabral, Manmohan , Nishant Natya Manch , Sangwari, Shubha, Vineet Tiwari, Vishnu Nagar.

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