Canadian Diaspora Condemns Anti-Muslim Violence in India

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the recent wave of violence against the Muslim community in India unleashed by Hindu right wing groups affiliated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The latest incidents of anti-Muslim violence occurred during the Hindu festival of Ram Navami which concluded on April 10th. The festival comprises a nine day long fast held by Hindu communities during which many of them maintain a vegetarian diet. The festival was used as an opportunity by the right-wing nationalists to attack shops selling non-vegetarian food, and aggressively police the food habits of Indians who are predominantly non-vegetarians.

The days leading up to Ram Navami witnessed members of the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the youth wing of BJP, demanding a meat ban across the country and assaulting meat vendors, who mostly belong to Muslim or low caste communities, particularly in states/provinces where BJP is in power. Even in states where BJP is not in power, municipal authorities doubled down on the meat ban and prohibited small businesses from selling meat. Muslim shopkeepers were disproportionately targeted, and even banned from doing business around Hindu temples. Secular spaces such as university campuses were also not spared. In New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), ABVP goons unleashed a reign of terror on the students who resisted the meat ban, along with meat vendors and hostel staff. In Hyderabad Central University, ABVP forcibly installed statues of Hindu deities such as Ram and Hanuman in a brazen demonstration of Hindu majoritarianism, and to provoke minority communities.

On April 10th, many Muslim homes and businesses were torched and destroyed across the country by organized Hindu mobs. Organized rallies known as ‘Shobha Yatras’ were held by BJP-affiliated groups, which included participants making inflammatory hate-speeches against the Muslim community, the desecration of Mosques, destruction of properties owned by Muslims, arson, and rioting. The worst hit places include the states of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat. Many places in North India also reported instances of mob lynching of alleged beef vendors by so-called ‘cow vigilantes’ who operate with utmost impunity under BJP rule. We are outraged to note that the state authorities in India were complicit in the rampage caused by the right wing mobs, whose brazen calls for the genocide of the country’s Muslim population are in keeping with the BJP’s policy of establishing a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Nation).

This recent wave of violence around Ram Navami follows the steady increase in the Islamophobic and misogynist actions taken by Hindu-fascist groups over the last few months. Notably, the state of Karnataka banned the hijab from being worn in schools, leading effectively to apartheid-like conditions targeting Muslim women. School gates became the scenes of mob justice, as Muslim students were humiliated and barred from entering, even as Hindu students were encouraged by authorities to publicly assert their religious identities by donning saffron clothes, and sacred threads on wrists among other Hindu religious symbols. We are concerned that, far from being limited to state policies and actions against India’s Muslims, these incidents reveal a deepening social polarization that makes Muslims vulnerable to attacks in all spheres of social, economic and political life.

As members of the South Asian diaspora, we urge the international community to take cognisance of the genocidal violence being perpetrated against the Muslim community by the BJP government and its supporters in India, and organize against it. Given the extent to which the Indian judiciary and other state agencies are compromised, and even complicit in perpetrating Hindutva violence, we have little hope that the victims will ever receive justice. It is incumbent upon us, nonetheless, to ensure that the pressure on the BJP Government remains. We, therefore, join the progressive groups in India such as the Bebaak Collective to demand that the international community call on the Government of India to:

  1. Take immediate action against the Hindu right wing groups that orchestrated the recent violence against Muslims in various parts of the country.
  2. Provide immediate and unconditional compensation to the victims of recent ethnic violence.
  3. Stop the persecution of Muslim and minority communities in India, and uphold the secular and democratic values enshrined in the Indian Constitution. •

For a complete list of signatories, see India Civil