IAMC Weekly News Digest, 1st October 2021
As democracies around the world are under threat, “it is imperative that we defend democratic principles and institutions within our respective countries,” US Vice President Kamala Harris has told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “I know from personal experience and from my family of the commitment of the Indian people to democracy, and the work that needs to be done (so that) we can begin to imagine, and then actually achieve, our vision for democratic principles and institutions,” Harris said in public remarks made during a meeting on Thursday between the two leaders. The remarks marked a subtle departure from the Trump administration’s approach towards the Hindu nationalist Modi, who has presided over an increase in religious polarisation in his country, with more laws discriminating against religious minorities, mainly its large Muslim population, as well as attacks on non-Hindus….
In a video from Sipajhar in Assam that appeared on social media on Thursday, a photographer pounces on a man lying motionless on the ground, a circle of blood spreading on his chest. The photographer is accompanied by a group of policemen. He is Bijay Baniya, employed by the Darrang district administration, brought to the spot to take pictures of an eviction drive in Sipajhar. The man lying on the ground is 33-year-old Moinul Haque. In the first few seconds of the video, he had rushed towards a group of policemen, a stick in his hand, and the group of policemen, armed with guns and clad in riot gear, had fallen upon him. Gunshots rang out soon afterwards. Haque was killed in the attack…. Decades of politics in Assam have led up to this moment. It has been enabled by the government’s obsession with hunting down so-called foreigners in the name of championing indigenous interests. A poisonous lexicon has flowed from this politics…. months before the general elections of 2019, Union Home Minister Amit Shah described migrants from Bangladesh as “termites”….
Not everyone in India is excited about the upcoming festive season in October and November. For Afzal, a mutton seller in Greater Noida – a suburb in Uttar Pradesh state neighbouring capital New Delhi – who did not wish to give his real name for fear of reprisal, it would mean a loss of business for nearly 10 days. “The Bajrang Dal [Hindu far-right group] in this area distributed pamphlets ordering the closure of shops during the festival period. They have become very active ever since Yogi Adityanath came to power,” he told Al Jazeera…. “The BJP government has been speaking against Muslims since it came to power, but just speaking against them is not enough to win the hearts of their Hindu supporters in the politically charged state,” he said. “The Muslim community has to be brought to its knees by economically marginalising them even further. This is being done in order to send a signal to the Hindu electorate that Muslims are being shown their place.”
‘Shown their place’: Muslim livelihoods under attack in India