India is known as the ‘world’s largest democracy’ but it is quite apparent that it has become an autocracy under the rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Modi government has marginalised the minorities, apart from a few honourable exceptions, the Indian media largely behaves like a PR machine for the right-wing government, and the judiciary, too, has become pliant. International human rights organisations are facing the wrath of the Indian government for exposing its real face. Just recently, Amnesty International India announced that it is halting its work in the country after the Indian government froze its bank accounts due to their work. The recent crackdown by the Indian government against human rights organisations and defenders was condemned by 15 international human rights organisations.
The Babri Mosque verdict was a tight slap in the face of justice. To give a clean chit to all accused in the Babri Mosque demolition case – 32 out of 49 were acquitted as17 had died while the case was still under way – seems to say that nobody demolished the historic mosque. An Indian court said the demolition was not pre-planned despite 850 witnesses, 7,000 documents apart from TV footage and photos of what happened that fateful day. The demolition was televised and led to communal riots, which killed around 2,000 people. From the Ayodhya verdict last year to the Babri Mosque verdict just days ago, the Indian judiciary seems like a proper lackey of the Modi government. The way this verdict was celebrated by the accused, which included former Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, shows that the verdict was expected.
India under Modi has changed radically in just six years. The pretense of a secular India is truly over. Communalism in India was always a reality – from the Bombay riots in 92-93 to Gujarat pogrom in 2002, the Muslim minority in India largely lived in fear but at least there were constitutional protections safeguarding their rights. Now, just like the White Supremacists have been empowered in Trump’s America, the Hindutva brigade has been weaponised in Modi’s India. It is fast turning into a Hindu Rashtra. From treating religious minorities like third-class citizens to not giving a hoot about the ethnic minorities, the Indian authorities have shown time and again how shameless they can be.
A 19-year-old Dalit woman died on Tuesday after she was allegedly gang-raped by four upper-caste men in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), where the controversial Yogi Adityanath rules as the chief minister. The details of the gang-rape are horrific: the young victim was beaten to a pulp and left to die. She was hospitalised for two weeks but did not make it in the end. As if the trauma of her death and what led to it was not enough for the victim’s family, the UP police cremated her body in the dead of the night without the permission and presence of her family. The victim’s brother told the BBC that “they took the body away without our permission, without the permission of my parents and cremated her”. He said the family did not even get to see her one last time. Just after this, news broke of a 22-year-old Dalit woman’s death after a gang-rape, this time too in the state of UP.
India’s descent into fascism was expected under Modi but to witness the authorities being so blatant about it in the 21st century is still shocking. Rolling back Modi’s legacy will take generations. The process should begin before it is too late.