Thursday Jun 23, 2022
India is facing severe diplomatic fallout amid outrage in the Muslim world following derogatory comments made by ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) officials about the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) which are the “culmination of the BJP’s engineering hatred of a common enemy."
The incident sparked protests in Pakistan and prompted calls from around the region to boycott Indian goods. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Oman, Iraq, and other Muslim-majority nations, too, condemned the remarks, which were described as "Islamophobic," with several countries summoning India's ambassadors.
In an email interview with CNN Opinion, bestselling Indian author Arundhati Roy said: "India's tragedy is not that it's the worst place in the world -- it's that we are on our way there. We're burning down our house. India is an experiment that is failing dangerously.”
The renowned author revealed that several Indian poets, writers, professors, lawyers, human rights activists and journalists are in prison, most of them charged under a dreaded law called the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, all of them for speaking up for minorities, Dalits and forest-dwellers facing displacement and state terror.
Roy believes that Indian politics has something in common with the US Capitol riots, that “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is stoking hatred, and talks about who the real power in India lies with.”
“The incident involving BJP’s official comments about Prophet Mohammed (PBHU) reveals how successfully the clear and present existential threat posed by Hindu nationalism in India has been masked by the face it presents to the outside world,” she said, juxtaposing it with the people in strange clothes, the man in furs and antlers who stormed the US Capitol.
“We're [India] being ruled by their equivalent here. The difference is that they are not a collection of random lunatics. They are members of the most powerful organisation in India -- the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), whose founding ideologues openly admired Hitler and likened the Muslims of India to the Jews of Germany. RSS is the real power in India,” she pointed out.
Regarding the connection between the BJP and RSS, she said: “The ruling party, the BJP, considered to be one of the richest political parties in the world, is only the front office of the RSS. Founded in 1925, the RSS, traditionally controlled by a handful of Brahmins, now has millions of members including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been a member since his teenage years, and most of his cabinet ministers.
“It has its own vast militia, its own schools, labour unions and women's organisations. It's not a political party, it's something of a shape-shifter, a master of double-speak, its sources of funding are amorphous and leave no legal trail, it works through an array of affiliates, but it's a nation within a nation.
“The RSS believes that India should be declared a Hindu nation, just as Pakistan, Iran and several countries in the Persian Gulf are Islamic nations, just as Israel is legally the nation-state of the Jewish people."
Roy further added that the RSS believes in what it calls "Akhand Bharat," a sort of fantasy that is futuristic and ancient all at once – “a future Ancient India which includes Pakistan and Bangladesh which will be conquered and subject to Hindu rule.”
The bestselling author, however, said that isolating Muslims is not enough. “Creating an artificial majority out of a very diverse Hindu community that consists of thousands of castes and ethnicities is equally important if the BJP is to remain in power. The cement for that is engineering hatred of a common enemy. This requires an incremental ratcheting up of bigotry.”
She also highlighted that apart from the mass killings and lynching of Muslims by Hindu vigilantes in recent years, “we have the steady drumbeat of hatred and outlandish disinformation” beamed into peoples' homes by approximately 400 TV channels and countless newspapers.
“We regularly see provocative demonstrations by thousands of sword-wielding Hindu men marching through areas in which Muslims live. The deeply disrespectful comments about Prophet Mohammed made by a BJP spokeswoman on national TV this May were a part of this constituency-building exercise. As was the unconscionable bulldozing by municipal authorities of the homes of Muslims who dared to come out in protest.”