Indian Americans condemn Hindu extremist violence against Muslims across India during Ram Navami
Washington, DC (April 3, 2023) – The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) today strongly condemned Hindu extremist violence against Muslims in various Indian states over the last week. Since March 29th, extremist mobs participating in processions for the Hindu festival of Ram Navami have systematically attacked Muslims, along with their homes, businesses, and places of worship in at least six Indian states, including Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi, Gujarat, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh.
“It is unacceptable that some extremists in India are using Hindu festivals to terrorize Indian Muslims. It is profoundly alarming that these acts of large-scale violence are premeditated, organized and committed in the presence and full knowledge of the police, who according to numerous video reports, are doing nothing to stop them,” said Rasheed Ahmed, Executive Director of IAMC.
News reports and videos circulating on different social media platforms indicate that the violence has been orchestrated by the militant affiliates of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), including Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).
A newly released report from the Citizens and Lawyers Initiative, “Routes of Wrath: Weaponising Religious Processions” provides deeply researched documentation of the weaponization of Ram Navami and Hanuman riots in 2022, which resulted in two deaths and more than a hundred injuries that year.
The report, featuring an introduction from retired Indian Supreme Court Justice Rohinton F. Nariman, highlights consistent collusion on the part of the Hindu far-right groups and the authorities in choosing procession routes. “Religious processions in state after state have been granted licenses or permissions to pass through the most congested and sensitive areas,” it states.
In the town of Bihar Sharif in Bihar state, a young man was shot dead during a Ram Navami procession this year, according to police reports. Muslim women allege that police robbed their homes and threatened rape during a chaotic Ram Navami procession.
“Police abused us and gave us rape threats. We were forced to open the doors, and then they were free to get into our houses. They put ladders in the balcony and entered,” a woman alleged. Participants in a March 30 Ram Navami procession also vandalized a mosque and set it on fire.
A day later, on April 1, teenagers participating in a different Ram Navami procession in Bihar beat a Muslim woman and smashed a Muslim teenager in the head with a rifle butt. In West Bengal, a Hindu extremist mob chanting “Jai Shri Ram” set fire to Muslim shops and vehicles. In Gujarat state’s Vadodara, Hindu supremacists stoned Muslim properties and a mosque. In Telangana, Hindu extremist leader T Raja Singh exhorted crowds to kill Muslims, calling out, “You [Muslims] are half cut (circumcised). We will cut you fully.” In Gir Somnath, Gujarat, far-right leader Kajal Singhala delivered an Islamophobic speech at a Ram Navami festival, which led to tensions in the area.
In Vadodara, Gujarat, a Hindu extremist mob attacked a Muslim locality during the Ram Navami procession. Locals allege that police have disproportionately targeted Muslims in the crackdown after the violence. In one media report, Gujarat police forced down the door of a Muslim woman’s house during Iftar, tore off her clothes, and attempted to sexually abuse her, while also beating her husband.
Hindu extremists in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, raised saffron flags over the Jama Masjid as part of Ram Navami celebrations, claiming the mosque as their own.
Instead of holding Hindu extremists accountable, the police in states ruled by the BJP continues to arrest Muslims on fabricated charges of violence.
“We should not need to provide encyclopedic documentation of clear bias and genocidal threats to Muslim lives in India. Any given day furnishes hundreds of examples of a rising existential threat,” said IAMC Executive Director Ahmed. “If the international community does not quickly intervene, it will be impossible to reverse India’s violent decline.”
IAMC urges international human rights organizations & civil society groups to take note of the deteriorating situation in India, which has the potential to turn into a full-blown Muslim and Christian genocide.
IAMC also calls on the US State Department to ask the Indian government to stop stoking the anti-Muslim sentiment, punish the Hindu extremists involved in anti-Muslim violence, and accept the recommendation of the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to designate India as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC).