Hussain: In India, Hinduism does not teach violence, Hindutva condones it
By S. AMJAD HUSSAIN
A few months ago, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the construction of a Hindu Temple in the city of Ayodhya in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The temple is being built on the site where a mosque had stood for more than 360 years. The site has been a bone of contention and flash point since 1992 when a mob of 150,000 Hindu militants attacked the mosque and destroyed it. In the ensuing riots 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed.
Hindus claim that the mosque was built over the site of an ancient Hindu Temple dedicated to the Hindu god Rama. Ayodhya is believed by many Hindus to be the birth-place of Rama.
The claims and counterclaims have been winding through the special commission and court system to reach the Supreme Court of India. The court sided with the Hindu nationalists and cleared the way for the construction of the temple.
The Supreme Court based its opinion on the archaeological evidence of a Hindu temple under the ruins of the destroyed mosque. While the Indian Muslims railed against the decision, it was a fair one.
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The Ayodhya case spawned many other efforts by Hindu zealots to claim land where Muslim monuments stand. The most bizarre was where a group of six Hindu lawyers petitioned the courts that Hindus may be allowed to worship in the Taj Mahal because it was originally a Hindu temple. The Archaeological Survey of India refuted the claim and the courts threw out the case.
Every invader in history has left its mark on conquered land. Excavation of any city in the world would yield evidence of previous habitations on the site. All one has to do is to see the cultural layers in an archaeological excavation. Every monument stands on the ground where once something else existed. Where should one draw the line?
Ayodhya however is just the visible symptom of a deep-rooted hatred of Muslims by Hindu nationalists. For the first time they feel empowered to do whatever they want to Muslims and their institutions. Muslims constitute 14 percent of 1.34 billion Indians and are increasingly being marginalized.
Muslims fared better when the secular Indian National Congress Party was in power. When the right wing nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party swept national polls in 2014 and Narendra Modi was elected the prime minister, the handwriting was already on the wall.
It was on Mr. Modi’s watch as chief minister of Gujarat State that in 2002 a pogrom took place where as many as 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed. Implicated in the pogrom was the state government and the police. Though Mr. Modi was cleared of direct involvement, U.S. government banned his entry into the United States. It was lifted when he won the national elections in 2014 and became the prime minister.
Earlier this year, Muslims peacefully protested in the northeastern part of the capital New Delhi against passage of the Citizens Amendment Act that the BJP government had pushed through the parliament.
The law was meant to deny citizenship to Muslims living in India who don’t have proper documents. The law does not apply to other minorities. Hindus attacked the peaceful protest, and 25 people, mostly Muslims, died. A report by Delhi’s Minorities Commission blamed the police for helping the mob. BBC news and Amnesty International reached the same conclusions.
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Mr. Modi espouses and encourages Hindutva that can be translated to Hindu nationalism or Hinduness. As governmental policy, Hindutva is at odds with the secular democratic traditions of India, where religion is not supposed to play any part in the public arena.
Many Hindu nationalists carry a deep-seated hatred of Muslims that goes back to the Muslim rule of India. They did not accept the partition of India in 1947 when a predominantly Muslim Pakistan was carved out of the country. More Muslims live in India than in Pakistan, but they have been suspects in the eyes of the Hindu nationalists.
Whenever a standoff or a skirmish flares between India and Pakistan along the 1,500-mile long border, Indian Muslims get the brunt; Hindu militants force them to chant Hindu religious slogans, compel them to drink cow urine, or have them lie down on the pavement and have cows walk over them. The Modi government has done precious little to stop such incidents.
Hindutva and the Hindu religion are not synonymous. The former is a political ideology wrapped in religious garments, the latter is an ancient religion that does not teach aggression, violence, and wanton killings.
Courtesy : Toledo Blade