Religious Intolerance in India
Shaikh Moazam Khan
India is world’s so called largest democracy and claims itself as a champion of minorities’ rights. The constitution of India entails secularism as core for the Indian democracy. Unfortunately, things on the grounds are far from the reality and beyond one’s imagination especially under the nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendara Modi. The minorities are facing the threat of their survival in India in the current circumstances and Rise of Hinduism. The cliques of Hindu fanatic are out in Indian streets and going all out to target the Muslims and other minorities such as Other Back Ward Caste (OBC) like Dalits. The concept of secular Nehruvian India is diminishing in last few years under the Modi government. These religious and political disparities are no going unnoticed in the world as international organizations and Western States including United States of America (USA) have criticized religious discrimination in India under incumbent government of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP).
The recent endorsement of religious discrimination in India is exposed by a US organization. On April 28, 2020, the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) launched its annual report, detailing the violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief in 29 countries. USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan, U.S. federal government commission created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). USCIRF makes policy recommendations to the United States President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. The USCIRF has downgraded India to the lowest ranking, countries of particular concern (CPC) in its report. This is the first time since 2004 that USCIRF recommends India as a Country of Particular Concern. Nadine Maenza, the USCIRF’s vice chairman, said India had tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom. She further added that the most startling and disturbing was the passage of a Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that fast-tracked citizenship for newcomers who belong to six religions, but excluded Muslims.
The US based organized maintained that CAA potentially exposes millions of Muslims to detention, deportation, and statelessness when the government completes its planned nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC). The BJP and other Hindu zealots are using the laws such as CAA and NRC to target the Muslims especially. Unfortunately, Indian government nothing and protecting the culprits instead.
In contrast with the Indian claims, Pakistan is emerging leading global players. The country’s pivot and positive steps like facilitation in Afghan peace process is being viewed through the prism of global player and peace promoter. Pakistani government is going all out to facilitate minorities in the country. The opening of Kartarpur Corridor for Sikh community in a short period of time is existing evidence of country’s treatment and intentions towards minorities. Prime Minister Imran Khan made it clear that his government will not tolerate anything against the minorities. The USCIRF report also appreciated Pakistan’s efforts saying, “One of the things that has been important for us with Islamabad is that the government engaged in dialogue about how religious freedom concerns can be addressed. The report terms the opening of Kartarpur Corridor as positive gesture of the country. Not only US, but entire world appreciates Pakistan’s desire for peace and harmony.
On the other hand, Indian government is still peddling the narrative against Muslims community. It is making all efforts to stigmatize Muslims by holding the responsible for the outbreak of Coronavirus Covid-19, which must be stopped now. By targeting specific community, hardliner Hindus are paving the way for hatred sentiments against Muslims, which is likely to effect the balance of religious harmony. It’s time for Indian government to stop act like a preacher of nationalism and take some aggressive steps for religious harmony instead. To blame any community is not the right way to divert the attention of people from the failure of its governance. Indian government cannot live up with this traditional approach towards Muslims. It is losing its allies in the Arab World now. The recent criticism of Arab leaders against the treatment of India towards minorities is likely to have an eye opener for Indian deep state and establishment. Arab nations like UAE, Saudi Arabia and many other should continue with their approach to pressurize Indian government and ask them to create parity within the society. They should threaten India political, economic and strategic interests in Gulf until they stop discrimination against Muslims.
US President Donald Trump ahead of his first state visit to India in February this year showed concerns about the religious freedom in India. Indian government showed disdain over the US anger especially CAA. The American administrations is now realizing the heat and its consequences for the entire world especially when it comes to the religious harmony among different communities. While, Pakistani government is enjoying the perks of Imran-Trump bonhomie. The tireless efforts of Pakistani diplomats across the world especially at Foreign Office and its embassy in Washington are mitigating mistrust between the both countries. At the end, I would conclude my argument with the suggestion that Pakistan should continue with its approach to expose nationalists designs of Modi government and religious discriminations across the country.