Calls for establishing Hindu Rashtra: How did we arrive here?

Screengrab of video from the controversial Haridwar event where genocide calls against Muslims were made.

Call for establishing a Hindu Rashtra and genocide of India’s Muslims were made at a religious conclave recently in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. The author examines the country’s recent history to understand how we arrived here. 

Md Asif Khan | 

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If we kill 20 million of them [Muslims] then we will be victorious”. This is not a dialogue from some C grade Bollywood movie. These words were spoken by a Hindu extremist leader during a Dharm Sansad (Religious Parliament) event which was organized from 17 to 19 December in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. Many Hindu extremist leaders participated in this event and they delivered inflammatory speeches and called for genocide against India’s Muslims. Nobody took notice of this hateful event until the videos of hate speeches went viral on social media. After much outrage, Police filed an FIR but they did not invoke serious charges against these hatemongers, and to date, no arrest has been made in the case. 

This hate assembly was neither the first nor the last event organized by Hindu extremist leaders in India. Many such events were organized in the past and many will be organized in future as well. Such hateful campaigns are not limited to Muslims only but other minorities like Christians are also being targeted by radical Hindus in India. More than 300 attacks on Christians were reported in 9 months of 2021 and no less than 7 Christian events were disrupted by radical Hindu outfits on the eve of Christmas 2021 across the country. India has become the most unsafe country for minorities. But this can’t happen overnight, how did this happen?

People who are looking for the answer need to read the history of Germany or Rwanda. Fascism doesn’t knock on your door suddenly. It is a long process that starts with hate speeches and ends with the mass killing of innocent people. Many anti-Modi Indians think that it started after 2014 and Modi is responsible for it—either they are gullible or deliberately avoiding the role of radical Hindutva ideology. Narendra Modi or BJP are not the pioneers of radical Hindutva ideology, they are the mere products of Hindutva ideology. Hindutva is a core ideology of RSS which was founded in 1925. 

This hateful journey was started almost 100 years ago when India was under British Raj. Founding members of RSS were impressed by fascists and Nazis like Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. M S Golwalkar, 2nd chief of RSS, wrote in his book that Hindus should fight their internal enemies i.e. Muslims, Christians and Communists. He supported Nazis’ actions in Germany and suggested the same thing in India. 

RSS was banned by the Indian government after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, but the ban was lifted after 17 months. It was the responsibility of the Indian government to keep an eye on the activity of RSS but they failed. RSS was slowly making its space in Hindu society and the Indian political system but the so-called secular government turned a blind eye. RSS had its people infiltrated into state machinery and these RSS sympathizers were everywhere—from Media to intelligence agencies, even the so-called secular party had RSS sympathizers.

For the present state of India, I blame the Hindu society and so-called secular Hindus who ruled this country for decades. They downplayed the activities of radical Hindu extremists by calling them ‘fringe’. Secular Hindus gave legitimacy to the Hindutva when they accepted them as ‘opposition’. At this time, the so-called secular Hindus were in power, and conservative Hindus were in opposition. Hindu extremists demolished 400-year-old Babri Masjid in broad daylight on 6 December 1992. The secular Hindu government did nothing to stop the bloody Rath Yatra of 

L. K. Advani, and did not punish those people who were responsible for the Babri demolition and aftermath. The Hindu society rewarded BJP with votes after the Babri demolition. The demolition of Babri was the first major step toward Hindu Rashtra. The so-called secular Hindu government who arrested 76000 Muslims/Sikhs/Dalits under TADA (Anti-Terror Law) from 1987 to 1995, failed to take any strong action against Hindu extremists who were responsible for Babri Demolition. 

When Indian Muslims were trying to heal their wounds of 1992, they received another blow in the form of the 2002 Gujarat anti-Muslim pogram. As usual, BJP gained more popularity after the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat, and perpetrators got away with it. The 1992 and 2002 incidents exposed the radicalization of Hindu society and the apathy of secular Hindus toward Muslims. When Indian media and state machinery were fighting against imaginary Islamic terrorism, many radical Hindu groups were secretly working for the agenda of Hindu Rashtra in the first decade of 2000. 

India witnessed many bomb blasts in the first decade of 2000. Indian media and intelligence agencies blamed Muslims and arrested many innocent Muslims in various bomb blast cases. The Indian media, Hindutva groups and intelligence agencies created an anti-Muslim atmosphere in the country. Muslims were primary suspects if a bomb blast took place anywhere in the country. The Hindu majority society consumed that propaganda and started blaming Muslims. However, the Hindu radical organizations got exposed in 2008 when Hemant Karkare cracked the Malegaon bomb blast case. He exposed the conspiracy of these radical organizations who planted bombs across the country in Muslim majority areas. The so-called secular government of UPA did nothing to ban these radical Hindu outfits. 

In India, every element has played an important role in the rise of Hindutva— the government, media and Hindu society never opposed Hindutva ideology. They gave a platform to radical Hindus and indulged in dialogue with them. They gave space to fascism by calling it “Difference of opinion” or “Ideological differences”. 

Fascism works in a very systematic way. It grows step by step and reaches its destination which is genocide. The journey of Hindutva is no different. They started as fringe and today they are mainstream. Propaganda is a very important tool of fascism—it is used to dehumanize the oppressed people and glorify the oppressors. Every Hindutva project starts with propaganda and ends with violence. 

India has seen many incidents of hate crimes against Muslims and Christians. These attacks are not spontaneous. They are part of organized crime. Every week Right-Wing Hindu outfits invent some bogus conspiracy theory against Muslims and Christians and then start their propaganda. They spread hateful propaganda on social media to create a certain narrative. Following this, the radical Hindu extremist leaders start spreading propaganda through public rallies and mainstream media starts discussing this propaganda and TV channels invite these hatemongers to their studio to know their ‘opinion’ and this is how their hateful propaganda is legitimized in the form of ‘opinion’.

Once hateful propaganda turns into an ‘opinion’ with the help of mainstream media, BJP leaders and lawmakers also start talking about it in their public speeches. Once this ‘opinion’ gets enough popularity, the BJP govt passes a law that targets the oppressed community. The so-called “Love Jihad Law”, Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), “Triple Talaq Law” and “Anti Conversion Law” are a few examples.

These unconstitutional laws serve more than one purpose for BJP. These laws target Muslims. It’s a bitter truth that the majority of Hindus don’t vote for the BJP for development. They vote for them so that the fascist regime can show Muslims their place. 

CAA and NRC were also designed to serve such kind of purpose. CAA was passed by the Modi government in December 2019. The Indian Muslims hit the street against CAA and NRC. Police under BJP rule unleashed violence against Muslim students and protesters across the country, and more than 25 protesters were killed. 

But Muslims didn’t stop protests. The Hindutva ecosystem (Govt+Media+Police+Trolls) started its mission to label CAA protests as “Anti-National”. Sharjeel Imam became the first victim of this sinister plan, Hindu Right-Wing Media and Social Media trolls started spreading a short clip of his speech and dubbed him a secessionist. As usual, the so-called liberal Hindus also gave their support to the Hindutva narrative and declared Sharjeel Imam a villain. 

After Sharjeel, Uttar Pradesh’s STF arrested Dr Kafeel Khan on the allegation of delivering an inflammatory speech during the CAA protest. Many Muslim activists were booked and arrested by police during the CAA protest. If the so-called Hindu liberals had given their unconditional support to Sharjeel Imam, if they had hit the streets against the witch-hunting of Sharjeel Imam, the situation would have been different. But at this time, the liberal Hindus were speaking the language of Hindu extremists.

This left Indian Muslims on their own—they were fighting against a fascist regime, and a giant propaganda machine called Indian Media. In February 2020, many Hindu extremist leaders delivered incendiary speeches, which resulted in an anti-Muslim pogrom in Delhi. Muslims were killed, their houses and properties were attacked by a violent mob and in the end, Muslims were arrested and labelled as the masterminds of violence. The government and Delhi Police used the same modus operandi which they had used against Sharjeel Imam— first, they created a fake narrative against Muslim activists through Indian media and then arrested them under draconian laws to satisfy the collective conscience of a morally dead society.

The mob lynching of Muslims and attack on Christians are examples that how violence can be normalized in society if you have popular support from a radicalized society and fascist government. These attacks are the result of the radicalization of Hindu society and the dehumanization of minorities. Fascists always dehumanize and demonize a section of society so that it becomes easy to unleash violence against them. Nobody shows enough sympathy with dehumanized groups, and they become the easy targets of violence. 

I will give a few examples that show how systematic hateful propaganda ended up with violence against Muslims and Christians. Hindu extremists started propaganda of ‘Love Jihad’ against Muslims more than a decade ago. They invented a bogus conspiracy theory that Muslim men trap Hindu women in their love and then convert them into Islam so that they can increase their population and convert India into an Islamic nation. At that time no one tried to stop their propaganda. When the BJP came into power in 2014, the fringe became mainstream. The radical Hindu outfits started attacking interfaith couples, and a so-called Love Jihad Law was enacted. Because of the passing of the law,  the Hindutva groups do not need to attack interfaith couples, they just complain to the police and falsely accuse a Muslim man of “Love Jihad” and police would arrest that Muslim man under Love Jihad Law.

The anti-Christian propaganda is also not new. Many years ago, Hindutva groups started accusing Christian missionaries of the forceful conversion of poor Hindus in India. The radical Hindu outfits didn’t even spare Mother Teresa and accused her of conversion. Hindutva outfits kept spreading this propaganda for years to radicalize Hindus and dehumanize Christians by calling them “rice bag converts”. Now they have the popular support of society and the government and they are barging into churches and convent schools and attacking Christians. 

Dear Secular Hindus, we have reached here because for the last 70 years you were ignoring these fascists by calling them fringe. If you think you can defeat these fascists by electoral politics, then you are wrong. To defeat them, you have to start de-radicalization of the Hindu community, You can not defeat this Frankenstein’s monster without social reform of the Hindu community.

Md Asif Khan is a social activist.