ASIA/INDIA - Targeted attacks on Muslim minorities: the climate of intolerance in society is worrying

Tuesday, 4 July 2017 religious minorities   ethnic minorities   religious freedom   politics   hinduism   islam   violence   human rights   peace   civil society   social communications   mass media  

New Dehli (Agenzia Fides) - "Attacks on minorities seem to have become the norm. Throughout India, many Muslims have been attacked by crowds, often instigated by messages on WhatsApp, that accuse Muslims of killing cattle, sacred animals for the Hindus, and eating the meat. Mohammad Akhlaq was resting when a crowd broke into his home in Delhi and lynched him to death. In recent days, the 17-year-old Muslim Junaid was abducted, stabbed, and left to bleed at a train station for no apparent reason. The situation is worrying": says to Agenzia Fides Ramesh Menon, a journalist and analyst in Delhi, former co-director of “India Today”.
The journalist expresses his dismay: "One cannot witness the targeted killings of Muslims in the name of a religious precept, as if it were a normal thing. High political authorities should say that this is inadmissible and the guilty will be severely punished, and strong popular protests in the capital were held before a minister of the Union officially condemned the killing".
Menon explains: "This is not the India we want. This is not the policy that millions chose when they voted for the Baratiya Janata Party, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He promised that the country would make a leap forward economically, stopping inflation and creating jobs, eradicating corruption. He made us dream of a new India, saying that it was time to change. But is this the change we wanted?".
Junaid's murder is now "passed off as a one-time accident, nothing serious", he continues. "There have been a series of murders regarding innocent people, especially Muslim Indians, linked to the slaughter of cattle or other pretexts. All unpunished. Indian Muslims today live in fear. "Extra-judicial killings in the name of cow protection continue to occur in Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Assam.
Menon observes: "It is a reality that must make us all feel worried. Where is society leading towards? Can a religion justify a murder? Hinduism has survived for centuries thanks to its strong points such as its profound holistic philosophy, not as a radical religion. Tolerance was its cornerstone. The lynching of an innocent Muslim boy must shake consciences or such crimes will still occur", he concludes.
In recent days, 65 former senior state retired officials issued a public petition to denounce the growing authoritarianism of the government of Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and the religious intolerance spread in society, especially at the expense of Muslims. The letter calls upon the institutions to ensure "impartiality, neutrality and commitment in favor of the Constitution", stressing the concern over the climate of sectarian violence in Indian society. Among the phenomena mentioned, those of the so-called "vigilantes" that intend to ensure protection of cattle, who commit abuses, violence, murders "in the utmost impunity or with the complicity of the state apparatus". (PN-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 4/7/2017)

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