Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks come amid widespread protests over a controversial law and a sliding economy.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come out war-mongering once again. Speaking to military cadets in New Delhi on Tuesday, he proclaimed that Indian forces need “a week to 10 days” to vanquish Pakistan’s armed forces if hostilities break out between the nuclear-armed neighbours. 

His rhetoric comes at a time when his government faces widespread protests over a law that has threatened the secular makeup of the world’s largest democracy. 

Islamabad reacted with its usual disdain with its foreign ministry calling Modi’s remarks “attempts to divert attention from growing domestic and international criticism of their discriminatory, anti-Kashmir and anti-minority policies”. 

In the same speech, Modi spoke about the “surgical strikes and air strikes” that India claims to have carried out against militant camps inside Pakistan. 

 On Twitter, the statement invoked varying degrees of reactions with some users viewing it as an attempt by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader to woo Hindu nationalist voters ahead of state elections in New Delhi. 

Pakistan and India were at the brink of war last year after tit-for-tat attacks. 

In February, India claimed that its jets had bombed an alleged militant camp deep inside Pakistan in response to a suicide attack in the Pulwama area of Indian-administered Kashmir, where 40 soldiers were killed. 

A day later, Pakistan’s air force shot down an Indian MiG-21 aircraft in a dogfight and captured the pilot, who was later released as a goodwill gesture by Prime Minister Imran Khan to ease tensions. 

Since being re-elected for a second term last year, Modi’s BJP government has taken a series of actions that have threatened to deepen the sectarian divide and undermine India's secular character. 

Amendments made to the Citizenship Law last month have come under severe criticism as it singles out Muslims for discriminations, who number over 200 million and are the largest minority. 

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) grants citizenship rights to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Christians who might have fled the neighbouring Muslim countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. 

New Delhi says there was no need to extend the rights to Muslims because they don’t face persecution in their own countries. 

But Muslims in India aren’t buying the argument as they fear it’s just another attempt by Modi - a former volunteer of the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) - to sideline Muslims. 

A planned country-wide registration process apparently to search out illegal immigration has also raised concerns. New Delhi wants 1.3 billion people to produce birth certificates and other documents that could establish their citizenship. 

Many people including Hindus might not be able to furnish the documentation but it is Muslims who suspect that the measures will be used to target them. Authorities are already building detention centres with walls 10 feet high. 

There are plenty more reasons for Muslims to worry. 

Soon after regaining control of parliament, the Modi government revoked the special status of Kashmir, a region that both India and Pakistan claim. That took away the limited autonomy of Indian-administered Kashmir. 

Kashmir is the only Muslim-majority state in India. Previous laws protected its demography. 

The move has already been celebrated by Hindu nationalists who see it as a victory over Kashmiris who have for 70 years struggled for their rights and independence.

Source: TRT World