Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Says India Is Under Threat Of Religious Hegemony, Calls For Social Justice Reform
In a letter to 37 Indian political leaders across state and party lines, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. K. Stalin on February 2 expressed his concern that India is “under threat of bigotry and religious hegemony” under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Stalin urged these leaders to break their silence on these threats and join the All India Federation for Social Justice, a platform he created on India’s Republic Day, January 26, to push nationwide reform in the face of rising Hindu extremism.
“As I write this, our unique, diverse, multicultural federation is under threat of bigotry and religious hegemony. These forces can only be fought if all who believe in equality, self-respect and social justice unite together. It is not a question of political gain but re-establishing the pluralistic identity of our Republic, as visualised by our founding fathers,” he wrote.
He elaborated, “Social Justice as an ideology is simple – ‘everything for everyone’. It is the belief that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities. Only by ensuring this equality of opportunity can we build the egalitarian society visualised by the framers of our Constitution.”
Indian minorities have suffered extensive loss of human rights as an ever-growing Hindu supremacist movement, implicitly backed by Modi and the BJP, seeks to declare India a Hindu nation, where people of other faiths are treated as second class citizens or subjected to genocide.
These abuses have been extensively documented by the United Nations, the US State Department, a number of members of the U.S. Congress, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, Freedom House, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Early Warning Project, and Genocide Watch.
Opposition Leader Shashi Tharoor Slams Bigotry, Assaults On India’s Constitution By Supporters Of Modi, BJP
Senior Congress Party leader and Member of Indian Parliament Shashi Tharoor referenced the Hindu supremacist ideals of Prime Minister Modi and the BJP in a tweet posted on January 31, in which he said that Modi and his divisive rhetoric were more dangerous than the Omnicron variant of Covid-19.
“Far more dangerous than #Omicron is ‘O Mitron!’” Tharoor wrote, referencing a common phrase that literally means “friends” in Hindi language, used by Modi when opening his speeches. “We are measuring the consequences of the latter every day in increased polarisation, promotion of hatred & bigotry, insidious assaults on the Constitution & the weakening of our democracy.”
Highlighting the gravity of India’s slide towards hyper-nationalism and state-sponsored violence against minorities, he added, “There is no ‘milder variant’ of this virus.”
Modi has implicitly supported the agenda of the Hindu supremacist movement for years, beginning with his reign as Chief Minister in Gujarat in 2002, during which he ordered police not to protect Muslims who were being raped and butchered at the hands of Hindu extremist mobs.
In recent months, he has remained conspicuously silent regarding the continuous calls for mass violence and genocide against Muslims, and he has refused to condemn Hindu extremist mobs who lynch Muslims, destroy mosques and churches, and demand the removal of minorities’ religious freedoms.
India-Based Washington Post Columnist Rana Ayyub Receives Over 26,000 Online Death, Rape Threats
Acclaimed journalist and Washington Post contributor Rana Ayyub has said that she received over 26,000 rape and death threats through social media, mainly through her Twitter account. Ayyub’s investigative reporting on the role of BJP leader Amit Shah, who is now India’s home minister, in a series of extrajudicial killings of Muslims garnered her international acclaim, and she is a vocal critic of Modi across several platforms.
“26.4 thousand tweets, most are abusive, rape and death threats, calling me a terror sympathiser,” she posted. “Most tweets are by the Indian right wing & Saudi nationalists who are attacking me after I posted a tweet in solidarity with Yemen and calling out the Saudis. Hello @TwitterIndia.”
After Ayyub filed a police complaint, Mumbai police registered a first information report (FIR) against four unidentified people for participating in the abuse. On January 31, Ayyub tweeted that it was “about time” for “brazen and consolidated acts of online violence” to be stopped.
“Mumbai Police has registered an FIR against those who disseminated fake news, morphed tweets and death and rape threats against me,” she wrote. “This bullying and assault on women needs to stop. Hope the accused are brought to book soon.”
The onslaught of virtual abuse against Ayyub is reflective of a much larger trend in India, where Hindu extremists – both men and women – use social media platforms, including Twitter, Clubhouse, and Reddit, to post lewd messages and rape fantasies about Muslim women. Hindu extremists also created two mock auction apps, ‘Bulli Bai’ and ‘Sulli Deals’, which were designed to humiliate vocal Muslim women by “auctioning” them as prostitutes. These dehumanizing tactics are used to harass and silence Muslim women who are critical of Modi and the BJP, and have the potential to lead to real-world violence against women.