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Mainstream, VOL 62 No 21, May 25, 2024

BJP’s War Against Muslims | Arup Kumar Sen

Saturday 25 May 2024, by Arup Kumar Sen

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After coming to power in 2014, the BJP declared war against Muslims in diverse forms. In the ongoing Parliamentary elections in 2024, the prime minister, Narendra Modi, made derogatory remarks against the Muslim community in his election campaign. As a damage-control measure, on the day he filed his nomination papers from the Varanasi constituency (May 14, 2024), Modi said in an interview to a TV channel: “The day I do Hindu-Muslim, I will be unworthy of public life…I will not do it, it’s my resolve”. (Quoted in The Indian Express)

Whatever may be Modi’s public gesture on the eve of filing his nomination, his government’s anti-Muslim signature got manifested in diverse forms. To put it in the words of the eminent Muslim intellectual, Shaikh Mujibur Rehman: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s frequent attempts to allude to the Ram Mandir in the ongoing election campaign as his major achievement indicates the Bharatiya Janata Party’s desire to seek electoral benefits from the subject. Seen in the wider context of the ongoing survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi and claims over the Shahi Idgah Masjid in Mathura, it is apparent that the mandir-masjid conflict may enter a new era in the post-2024 election period”. (The Hindu, April 27, 2024)

It may be mentioned in this connection that the abrogation of Article 370 and consequent scrapping of the special constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir was followed by curtailment of freedom of the chief priest of the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar. While reporting on the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Kashmir, a journalist drew our attention to this phenomenon: “Incidentally, Umar Farooq, who is the chief priest of the Jamia Masjid, has largely remained under house arrest since the August 2019 scrapping of J&K’s special status, and has been allowed only a couple of times in nearly five years to conduct his usual Friday prayers.” (See The Indian Express, May 9, 2024)

In the context of the current parliamentary elections in India, the dissenting note recorded by the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and leader of National Conference, Omar Abdullah (interview carried in The Telegraph, May 13, 2024), regarding the dismal state of democracy in the Kashmir valley, should be given serious attention in the public sphere: “There is a sense of frustration and resentment at the way in which the people were completely excluded from such a huge decision about how they will be governed. If this is a democracy, where do we find our place in it? We were stripped of everything we had without our knowledge, leave alone our consent.”

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