By: Murtaza Shibli

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the Hindu fascist ideologue worshipfully known as Veer Savarkar by his followers – who constitute more than half of India – must be allowed a last celebration in the hell reserved for the unsavoury characters.

The inventor of the term, ‘Hindutva’ or the Hindu hegemony of India, he preached a toxic narrative of unending hate against Muslims, calling for their erasure through every possible means to achieve the purity of the land he believed was purely Hindu.

The result of the provincial elections in Uttar Pradesh (UP), the largest Indian province whose population of over 200 million is perhaps little more than that of Pakistan, has completed the takeover of the Hindu fascism in India. With UP under its stranglehold, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its fascist Hindu ideology can finally claim total and complete control over India.

To achieve this, Veer Savarkar, the god of Hindu fascism, proposed murder and rape as important and legitimate tools. From the mid-1990s, apart from murder and mutilation, the BJP and its affiliated terror groups have increasingly used rape against Muslim women to bring added shame to force them out of their hearths to create exclusive conclaves.

The victory in UP was not only important for the BJP due to UP being the biggest province but for symbolic reasons too. It is the province where Hindu fascism successfully experimented with its toxic narratives of hate and demonisation of Muslims. The demolition of Babri Masjid at Ayodhya in 1992 and the subsequent anti-Muslim pogroms that killed thousands of Muslims catalysed the spread of Hindu extremism across India. A Yale University study in 2014 found that every anti-Muslim pogrom increased the electoral base of the BJP at the expense of secularists.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a direct beneficiary of this anti-Muslim rhetoric and violence. He shot to national prominence following his active role in instigating and abetting the anti-Muslim Gujarat riots that killed over 2,000 Muslims and displaced more than half a million, earning him the sobriquet of the ‘Butcher of Gujarat’.

In the recent elections, Modi continued his venomous Muslim bashing campaign with an anti-Pakistan dressing. In late February, prior to the polling, he blamed Pakistan for an earlier train accident that killed 150 passengers. He also claimed Muslims were getting preferential treatment, a blatant lie as the institutional violence and rabid discrimination has relegated them into squalor.

Amit Shah, the BJP president, openly called for “taking revenge for the [Hindu] killings” in last year’s Muzaffarnagar riots in which most of those slain incidentally were Muslim. He also raked up the issue of cow slaughter and pledged to close down all slaughter houses.

Both Shah and Modi are former members of the BJP-affiliated terror group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) which is involved in murders of Muslims and other minorities. Shah is himself involved in the murder of a Muslim family – Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kauser Bai – and the Ishrat Jahan Murder in which four Muslims including a 19-year old woman Ishrat Jahan Raza were killed. In both the incidents, Muslims were killed in staged police encounters and blamed to have been linked to the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The UP election results have followed a reinvigorated campaign of hate against Muslims. On the Hindu festival of Holi, posters sprang up in Jianagla, a UP village, advising Muslims to “leave immediately” or be ready to face “dire consequences”. In yet another hate-filled extravaganza, Vijay Rupani, the chief minister of Gujarat, which is a key BJP stronghold, announced that the government would bring in new law to award life-sentence for cow slaughter or transporting beef. Such campaigns are designed to further consolidate the terror against Muslims – both in formal settings by enacting laws and through vigilante justice.

With the new wave of electoral success followed by a gangrenous display of triumphalism by Hindu fascism, the 200 million Muslims in India are faced with a total collapse of optimism about their future.

Postscript: The media coverage in Pakistan of the UP elections offered little nuanced analysis. Some of it can be safely classified as farrago. A guest in one talk show talked of anti-Pakistan electoral posturing but subtly blamed the Pakistani establishment, a posh-shorthand for the military, for the current milieu of mistrust. One media person described the result as a ‘rational choice’. Zafar Hilaly, a former diplomat, was a rare departure with his discernible insight and meaningful interpretations.

Appendage: An editorial in a major newspaper on the UP elections tried very hard to be optimistic in the aftermath. In building the argument, while it did mention in passing the Indian digressions and the hate-filled rhetoric of iats politicians to afford some cosmetic balance, the final blame was firmly fixed on Pakistan for failing to “deliver any meaningful progress on the Mumbai attacks-related trials or the Pathankot investigation”.

Conveniently, there was no mention of the growing Hindu terrorism, acquittals of Hindu terrorists involved in killing Pakistanis or fabrication of cases to build a public case against Pakistan and Muslims. It seems the only way forward for Pakistan is to mend it ways to fit in the worldview postulated and enacted by the Hindu extremists from across the border.