From 19 million to 1 million: massive reduction in educational allocation for minorities
In a move to further restrict minorities’ access to education, India’s ruling Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has slashed the allocation for minority education programs and Islamic seminaries from around 19 million USD to a meager 1 million USD in the 2023-24 federal Budget.
The massive reduction of 69.61% in scholarships for minorities raises concerns about Hindu supremacist attempts to force Muslims out of education, further marginalizing the already vulnerable group.
Since the BJP came to power in 2014, there has been a steady decline in the budget allocation for the Ministry of Minority Affairs.
In a number of states, the BJP government has taken additional moves to create a Hindu supremacist education system. In Karnataka, the hijab has been banned in colleges, forcing hundreds of thousands of young Muslim women to drop out of school. In Assam and Uttar Pradesh, madrassas are the targets of invasive surveys and in some cases are bulldozed under flimsy excuses.
Supreme Court says no action taken against hate speech despite its orders
While hearing an urgent plea seeking the Supreme Court to take action against an upcoming anti-Muslim hate speech event organized by Hindu extremists in Mumbai city on February 5th, the court said that it has passed many orders in connection with hate speeches at events, yet “nobody was taking action.” The court’s flimsy excuse for not cracking down more strongly on hate speech is an indication of the Indian judiciary’s weakness in the face of Hindu supremacist groups.
“The mass participation at these rallies being organised not just with the consent and knowledge of government authorities but with their active participation, pose a serious threat to the very foundation of our nation as a secular nation,” said the plea.
A similar rally was organized a few days ago where nearly 10,000 Hindu supremacists – including lawmakers from the BJP and members of India’s most notorious extremist groups – held a massive march in Mumbai city, during which Hindu supremacist leaders openly called for the slaughter of Indian Muslims.
“The hatred being taught and the radicalization of youth being carried out with such impunity will inevitably lead to communal disharmony and violence of an unfathomable scale across the country,” said the plea.
In October last year, the Supreme Court had directed the Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand state governments to come down hard on hate speeches, promptly registering criminal cases against the culprits without waiting for a complaint to be filed.
Muslim journalist Siddique Kappan walks out of jail after 851 days
Muslim journalist and prisoner of conscience Siddique Kappan, who has been imprisoned since 2020 under false terrorism charges despite international condemnation, finally walked out of prison.
Addressing reporters, Kappan said it was a “long fight” to walk out of the prison.
“I will continue my fight against draconian laws,” he added. “I don’t know who’s benefiting from my being in jail. These two years were very tough, but I was never afraid.”
Kappan was arrested in October 2020 while traveling to the Hathras region of BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh state to cover the rape and murder of a teenage Dalit girl by caste-privileged Hindu men. Due to his Muslim identity, Kappan had been charged under India’s draconian anti-terror law, known as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
However, two other accused persons in the case – Muslim student leaders Atik Ur Rehman and Masood Ahmad – continue to be behind bars.
Kappan has faced inhumane treatment and conditions while imprisoned, including being beaten, mental torture, and failing to receive adequate healthcare. In 2021, he contracted Covid-19, causing his health to decline to the point where he was transferred to a Delhi hospital for treatment.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) had listed Kappan on its Freedom of Religion or Belief Victims List, along with over 30 other Indian victims of detention based on religious identity.