Independence was achieved for the Muslims of the subcontinent in 1947 after a long, continuous struggle and with tremendous sacrifices. The demand for Pakistan envisioned a separate state wherein the Muslims, who had a distinctive cultural and religious identity, could practice their religion and live according to its dictates without having to worry about the weight of Hindu majority.
However, IIOJ&K (Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir) remained an incomplete agenda of partition. This August marks one year since the special status of IIOJ&K was revoked, bifurcating it into two union territories, and a curfew and the communication blockade was imposed; followed by the implementation of a raft of policies that are anti-Muslim in character: The Jammu & Kashmir Reorganization Order, which is a calculated attempt to transform the demographic status of IIOJ&K, and the passing of controversial citizenship law that seeks to further discriminate against the Muslims.
The growing levels of intolerance in India towards Muslims, vilification of Indian Muslims, tyranny and oppression practiced by the Hindus and the resulting bloodshed was the inevitable result of militant brand of Hindu nationalism, in other words, Hindu extremism that has flourished under the current government. The movement and ideology of Hindu extremism has spread into new spaces as normalized, vernacular expressions of neo-Hindutva. The whole spectrum of life in India is dominated by the Hindu extremists.
The Hindu extremists and their allies in the Indian government are seeking to establish a Hindu nation where people belonging to all other religions would assume the status of second-class citizens. The larger purpose of this arrangement is the one where they expect the Muslims to accept the Hindu dominance and to reorganize the Hindu society into a consolidated majority that subscribes to the idea of a Hindu Rashtra. In December 2014, a BJP leader in a hate-fueled frenzy spoke of the pledge of his colleagues to wipe Muslims and Christians out of India by December 31, 2021. The ideas of inclusivity and pluralistic vision that promote religious diversity go against the very fundamentals of the constructs of homogeneity undertaken by Hindu extremists.
This phenomenon isn’t new; these extremist forces have been lurking in the shadows for a long time. The BJP’s ideological agenda is dictated by RSS, a group that has been banned thrice for its involvement in terrorism and communal violence in India: when one of its members assassinated Gandhi (1948); during the Emergency (1975-1977); and in 1992 for the demolition of Babri Mosque. The extremist Hindu nationalist groups–under the umbrella of Sangh Parivar–have been flourishing through the years, festering communal violence. The vast pool of millions of radicals preaching hate and intolerance to its students comes very handy during the communal riots which are most often projected by the Indian authorities as unorganized events.
By implicitly implying that India is the home for Hindus, they are actually accepting and vindicating the idea of Two-Nation Theory which formed the basis of Pakistan’s creation. Decades later, the Indian Muslims are suffering at the hands of Hindu extremists whose rights have been blatantly usurped. The curfew and gross human rights violations in IIOJ&K, intolerance and vigilantism in India, Ayodhya verdict, promulgating discriminatory laws, attacks on Muslims, their marginalization in India and setting their houses on fire proves that the Two-Nation Theory was indeed farsighted. This is the kind of capriciousness on the part of the overwhelming Hindu majority that Muslim leaders of the subcontinent feared.
The government’s anti-Muslim policies and growing Hindutva has sparked protests in India and abroad. The crackdown and brutal oppression of Muslims during the protests has raised further outcries. The U.S., European Union and United Nations Secretariat have censured the Indian government in the light of their discriminatory policies. In December 2019, OHCHR described the citizenship law as fundamentally discriminatory and in March 2020 the OHCHR filed an intervention application as amicus curiae (third party) in the Supreme Court, urging it to take into account international human rights law, norms, and standards in the proceedings related to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. However, in utter disregard for human rights, the Indian government criticized the application by saying the citizenship law was an “internal matter” and “no foreign party has any locus standi [grounds to sue] on issues pertaining to India’s sovereignty.”
Similarly, while India calls Kashmir an internal matter and continues to oppose third-party involvement, its unilateral actions since August 5 last year sparked international criticism and concern over the brutal oppression, unprecedented lockdown and communication restrictions in IIOJ&K. However, the strident criticism has not yet yielded any results and the lockdown has continued unabated.
Considering these developments, the proliferation of Hindutva and its ascendance to and consolidation of political power in New Delhi will have grave repercussions for the South Asian security matrix. With the disenfranchisement and suppression of Muslims who have lived in India for decades, brutal oppression and tyranny in Kashmir, and shelling across the LOC, India has made peace elusive in the region.
The aforementioned events prove that no amount of gratitude to our Founding Fathers would ever suffice for the creation of the solid, cohesive block that we call our motherland. As we celebrate our 74th Independence Day, we must pledge to uphold the great ideals of human progress, of social justice, of equality and fraternity that constitute the basic causes of the birth of Pakistan.
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