Rahul Gandhi, an Indian politician who served as the President of the Indian National Congress from 16 December 2017 to 3 July 2019, has said that many Indians do not consider Muslims to be human. “The shameful truth is many Indians don’t consider Dalits, Muslims and Tribals to be human. The CM & his police say no one was raped because for them, and many other Indians, she was NO ONE,” Gandhi tweeted.
The shameful truth is many Indians don’t consider Dalits, Muslims and Tribals to be human.
The CM & his police say no one was raped because for them, and many other Indians, she was NO ONE.https://t.co/mrDkodbwNC
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) October 11, 2020
Gandhi was reacting to the reports about an alleged rape of a woman who later died as a result of the injuries.
According to BBC, a young woman in Hathras was found in a field of tall millet crops by her mother. She was bleeding and could not move. She was taken to the hospital where she confirmed that she was raped. The 19-year-old is seen repeating the same sentence in a video that was recorded when she was taken to the district hospital in Hathras. She even names an upper-caste neighbour as the perpetrator, the report adds.
The case made headlines only after police and administration officials cremated her body in the middle of the night on 29 September – a move the family say was made without their consent and which has raised suspicion, BBC reported.
The report also claims that since her death, the state government has insisted that she was not raped at all. In a series of off-the-record conversations, officials tried to deny or downplay the rape allegation. And reports in the Indian press said the state hired the services of a PR firm to press its denial.
When rape becomes a political matter
It is important to note that the victim belonged to the Valmiki community, the lowest rung of the Hindu caste order; the four accused men are Thakurs, an upper-caste warrior community.
Mr Darapuri, the civil liberties activist and former police officer, told BBC that state governments have potential political motivations to play down rape figures.
“Rape and atrocities against Dalits become political issues in elections so all governments try to keep these figures low,” he said. “Village council elections and assembly elections are all due in the state in the next 18 months and the government does not want to give a handle to the opposition.”
Muslims are not equal citizens
Back in April 2020, Dr Subramanian Swamy, a senior leader of the ruling party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and a member of India’s parliament, has said that Muslims are not equal citizens since they pose a threat to the world. He was speaking to journalist Isobel Yeung when he slammed over 200 million people of his own country; Muslims.
He was supposed to justify an ongoing human rights crisis in India, where Muslims are treated like second-class citizens. “On this issue, the country is with us,” he told Yeung. “Most people like our hard-line approach to solving pending problems.”
He went on to say that “where the Muslim population is large, there is always trouble,” which Yeung countered by pointing out that with 200 million Muslim residents, India has the second-largest Islamic population in the world. When Swamy stuck to his position, she told him his comments sounded “like hatred,” but he said he was being “kind.”
BJP is homogenizing India’s diversity?
Analysts believe that the current Indian government is pursuing a policy of appeasement since it has failed to perform on economic fronts. Saleha Anwar, a Lahore-based political analyst, believes that “India under Modi has become a battlefield between Muslims and Hindus sending economy on second in the list of priorities”.
Indian politics is being shaped by the extremist politicians and strategists who intend to wipe out the Muslim minority from India. Dr Moeed Pirzada, a prominent political commentator and columnist, recently noted that “Ram Rath Yatra, Mandal Commission, Ram Janma Bhoni movement, Attack on Babri Mosque, demolition of Babri Mosque, Bombay riots, nuclear explosions of 1997, Kargil Conflict, attack on Indian Parliament, mobilization against Pakistan, Gujrat Pogroms and Mumbai terrorism everything in one or the other was skillfully utilized in redefining Indian narrative and politics moving it ever closer to the realization of a Hindu Rashtra which now exists in reality though it still needs a legal and constitutional cover”.
The emerging trends in India offer us a sufficient amount of evidence that the rise of identity politics in India is to overshadow Modi’s dismaying economic performance. This is wrong with identitarian politics in the age of populism.”
Similarly, while commenting on the state of the economy, Indian writer and human rights activist, Arundhati Roy notes that “while Modi has delivered on Hindu nationalism, he has stumbled badly on the free-market front. Through a series of blunders, he has brought India’s economy to its knees.
Apoorvanand, who teaches Hindi at the University of Delhi, believes that the BJP is attempting to homogenize the diverse India which is likely to backfire. He opines that “the BJP and the RSS are trying to homogenize diverse, regional and cultural spaces and paint them with a broad Hindu brush. Slowly and gradually, they are trying to gain control over institutions – religious and cultural – by putting their people there”.
He further notes that “they are trying to create a Hindu umbrella, which will shelter all these diverse traditions and give people a feeling of being part of a unified whole called Hinduism. They are also eyeing the tribal traditions. This entry into their holy and cultural spaces is now conspicuous”.