IAMC Weekly News Digest, 22nd October 2021
On October 1, 2021, a massive protest rally was organised in Chhattisgarh’s Surguja district. The ‘protest’ was against the alleged spike in forced conversion of Hindus into Christianity. At the rally, attended by many BJP bigwigs, Swami Parmatmanand called for targeted killings of minorities involved in these alleged forced conversions. “…. I don’t care, I will tell you clearly. Ramvichar ji has said the same thing but he is a little unclear. Keep a lathi at home…In our villages, people keep hand-axes. Why do they keep axes? Why do you keep a farsa? Behead them – those who come for conversion…. I am telling you; anyone who comes into your house, street, neighbourhood, village, don’t forgive them,” he said. However, the priest did not stop here. He even gave a formula to deal with such conversions…. What’s more worrying than the priest’s violent call to arms is the fact that while he exhorted hundreds of listeners to behead Christians, influential leaders of the BJP in Chhattisgarh… were present on the stage….
In yet another brazen attempt to incite communal violence against Muslims in the state, Pramod Muthalik, the chief of the extremist Hindu outfit Sri Ram Sena said that the Jumma Masjid in Karnataka’s Gadag “should be demolished,” in a similar way that Babri Masjid was demolished in Ayodhya. Speaking in Gadag on Sunday, October 17, at an event on alleged religious conversions, Muthalik said, “We had to fight for 72 years for Ram Temple in Ayodhya. After 72 long years, Babri Masjid was removed and Ram Temple will be built there. Similarly, a new campaign will start to demolish the Jumma Masjid in Gadag to build Venkateshwara Temple”. Muthalik’s threat comes just three weeks after the brutal murder and beheading of a Muslim man in Belagavi by members of the Sri Ram Sena Hindustan, a breakaway offshoot of his organisation….
…. what appears different now is the increased frequency of acts of bigotry – and the state’s role in fomenting it, particularly as some leaders within the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) resort to hate speech and dog whistles…. India’s democracy is under strain. The state has detained nearly 9,000 people under a colonial-era anti-terrorism law in the last five years, many of them government critics. New Delhi also seeks to increase its access to private information and its control over social media, prompting disputes with WhatsApp and Twitter. Since taking power, the BJP has implemented a Hindu-nationalist agenda accompanied by demonizing rhetoric…. Competition with Beijing has taken center stage, and Washington sees New Delhi as an essential actor to counter China’s power…. The approach may not sit well with all administration officials. “We are repeating the Obama and Trump mistake of cozying up to India and Modi without demanding Modi end his tilt toward authoritarianism,” an unnamed official told Politico on the eve of Modi’s White House visit last month….