Indian state is in the grip of Hindutva

 Babri Mosque verdict is clear sign of this disturbing trend in India

The India is in the grip of Hindutva ideology. The state institutions are clearly following the Hindutva agenda. The police in Delhi sided with BJP and RSS goons during Delhi riots. The Indian judiciary is also seems in the grip of Hindutva and giving one verdict after the other which strengthen the perception.

The  Dawn editorial rightly pointed out that "the Babri Masjid destruction was a harbinger of much darker things to come. Today’s India, where Muslims are lynched on suspicions of consuming beef, where the community is asked to prove its citizenship or be prepared to be disenfranchised, and where the Indian military machine punishes the people of held Kashmir with great barbarity, is in fact a country fashioned by those who were instrumental in bringing down the mosque. If the country continues on this grim trajectory, very soon Muslims and other minorities may be transformed into a permanent underclass and denied all fundamental rights.

The brute force, distorted history, and violence are the tools the shock troops of Hindutva use to silence all opposition. Even state institutions seem to be afraid of speaking the truth. Last year, the Indian supreme court had paved the way for a Hindutva victory while allowing a temple to be built at the Babri site, and calling for an “alternative site” to be given to Muslims for a mosque".

Once, Indians were proud of their secularism, constitutional rule, and democracy, but now all these are under attack. Secularism has been replaced by Hindutva majoritarian rule. The democracy and constitutionalism is also at stake.

Judiciary is considered as the custodian of constitution, democratic and political rights in any democratic country. But in India, the judiciary is increasingly siding with Hindutva hardliners to fulfill their agenda. Indian society is increasingly  becoming intolerant and extremist.     

In 1992, the Hindu far right got its wish as the mosque was soon turned to rubble as zealots razed it, while earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundations for the Hindu Temple as all legal hurdles standing in its way were cleared. The judiciary cleared all the hurdles and appeased the Hindutva zealots through its judgments.  

A special court in India has found that the Babri mosque demolition in 1992 was not pre-planned. This is the latest criminal court verdict in a nearly 150-year-old land dispute, which led to several Hindu-Muslim riots in the country over the past three decades.

In the judgment, the court found that all 32 accused, which included former deputy prime minister LK Advani, are not guilty of spurring kar sevaks—Hindu nationalists who sought to perform religious rituals at the site—into demolishing the 16th-century Muslim place of worship.

The court found that members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), an affiliate of the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and politicians from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were only trying to protect the structures because idols of Hindu god Ram were inside the mosque.

While photojournalists had captured hundreds of pictures of the rousing speeches and the frenetic activity around the erstwhile mosque on and around Dec. 6, 1992, while many videos were spread around. But strangely, the court found no evidence that directly implicated the 32 accused.

It is revealing of the Indian mind that people are increasingly able to predict, with an astonishing degree of accuracy, what the judgments in important court cases would be. Few thought the Supreme Court would hand over the site of the Babri Masjid to Muslims. They were proved right last year.

Few thought the special court in Lucknow would hold prominent Bharatiya Janata Party leaders—LK Advani, MM Joshi, Kalyan Singh, and Uma Bharti—guilty of hatching a conspiracy to demolish the Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992. They were, once again, spectacularly right.

They may not know the finer points of legal arguments and precedents, but they have learnt over time that ideological domination somehow, or coincidentally, gets reflected in the conduct of every institution. This, in turn, leads to ideological hegemony—people choose to behave in conformity with the wishes of the political hegemonic. They do not have to be compelled to do so.

In today’s India, the RSS inspired Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the political hegemonic, and Hindutva the lodestar of the largest segment of Indians. At the same time, though, there will be a substantial number of Indians who do not and will not subscribe to Hindutva. They will mull their choices as their hope of securing justice recedes. 

The primary group among them is that of Muslims, whose constant demonisation has been at the root of the ascendancy of Hindutva. For them, the special court’s exoneration of BJP stalwarts, particularly Advani, signals a future without hope, a country rapidly going Pakistan’s way, an India where, despite Constitutional guarantees, they will be gradually reduced to second-class citizens.

Memory always comes in the way of people who wish to adjust to the changing reality. There can be no doubt that the exoneration of Advani and company will become one more cause for the growing alienation of Muslims. Indeed, the Ayodhya judgments are not a solitary example of injustice done to Muslims. Over the last six years, they have been vilified and violently targeted on a range of issues, from love jihad to consuming beef, to being, well, Muslim.

The exoneration of BJP stalwarts has come in the context of the state engaging in a witch-hunt against the Muslim youth and their Hindu sympathisers who organised and participated in the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

They have been booked and jailed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, on the charge of conspiring to foment the February riots in Delhi and seeking to terrorise the Union government into withdrawing the CAA. They are unlikely to be granted bail; such are the stringent provisions of UAPA. They will languish in jail, their youth wasted.

Contrast their fate to that of BJP stalwarts, who had sought to terrorise the state, and betrayed the solemn promises made to the Supreme Court. Their exoneration is yet another evidence of the capacity of Power to tailor reality.

As the economy shrinks and unemployment rises, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP will press even harder on the Hindutva pedal. In that case, Muslims will find their reality turn into a never-ending nightmare, with which it gradually becomes impossible to adjust and live with a degree of normalcy. 

                                                                             The Editor

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