Modi’s Return to Power and What it Means for Muslims

Recently, the incumbent Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned to power. He won with a resounding mandate and upon his victory he stated that his party (BJP) needed to win the trust of Muslims: the country’s largest minority.

Modi leads the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and this year the party recorded a landslide win on a campaign that ostensibly targeted Muslim. To put it in perspective, out of the BJP’s 303 lawmakers in Parliament, the party does not have a single Muslim member. The rise of the BJP has been marked by severe electoral marginalization of Muslims with their representation in democratic institutions gradually falling down. The Indian Prime Minister said that the opposition parties “deceived minorities” by not addressing their basic needs such as healthcare and education. “Due to vote bank politics, minorities were crushed, boxed into a corner, subjected to imaginary fears, and exploited during the elections,” he said, addressing the newly elected parliamentarians.

Ironically, just hours after the results were declared, Muslims were publicly attacked in many places by those celebrating Modi’s victory.

Since the BJP came back into power last week, at least 5 incidents of hate crimes have been recorded. Incidents have been widespread across the whole country from Delhi to Hyderabad. In Madhya Pradesh state, 3 Muslims, including a woman, were severely beaten by a mob on the suspicion of carrying beef. Similarly, a Muslim man in Gurugram, a suburb of Delhi was stripped of his prayer cap and made to shout Hindu religious chants. Hindu extremists have particularly been very violent and have carried out lynchings against Muslims very openly. In the past year of Modi’s rule, 44 people were lynched, most of them Muslim, by cow vigilantes. BJP continued to build fear and hate among Hindus and referred to Muslims as threats. They rallied behind ideas such as building temples over demolished masjids and changing citizenship laws to bar Muslims

Muslims have become extremely polarized and left out of the Indian society. BJP policies may potentially make Muslims arbitrarily left out of the final list and stripped of all basic entitlements such as healthcare, education and voting rights. Such polarization was last seen during the partition of India and Pakistan. With the election verdict, the majority Hindus have given vent to their unfulfilled aspiration for a Hindu India. This process is only going to intensify in the coming decades.

In Assam state, the BJP based its campaign on the promise that it will rid the state of undocumented Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh while promising to keep the Hindu immigrants in contravention of India’s secular constitution. BJP president Amit Shah had referred to Bangladeshi immigrants as “termites” and “infiltrators.” Muslims form one-third of Assam’s population but their citizenship has always been suspect. Of course, Kashmir is the hotspot for Hindu-Muslim tension in India. Kashmir has witnessed an armed rebellion since the late 1980s during which more than 60,000 civilians have been killed. India has stationed nearly half a million forces to fight the rebels, who either want independence or a merger with Pakistan. May Allah (swt) make it easy for the Indian Muslims and make them live in harmony and peace with their neighbors. Ameen.

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