The ongoing brutality in New Delhi dubbed 'communal violence' is the live unfolding of a pogrom against Muslims.
The international media fixated on the pomp and ceremony, or rather glitz and glam of what was a two-day extravaganza of right-wing populist and ultranationalist odes and slogans. US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi went about their business pretending as though the country’s second-largest city wasn’t literally and actually on fire.
On Monday, pro-government Hindutva thugs responded to the city’s ongoing and growing protests against recently legislated anti-Muslim citizenship laws, otherwise known as the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC), by attacking protesters and setting Muslim owned homes, cars and businesses alight.
Eerily, the same Hindu nationalist goons had marked Hindu-owned properties with saffron-coloured flags to help attackers identify Muslim targets, borrowing a sinister measure used on the eve of the 2002 Gujarat riots, which left more than 2,000 Muslims killed and thousands more battered, raped, and abused.
Starting in the Muslim-majority areas of northeast Delhi, the violence spilt into Monday evening, culminating with the deaths of at least two anti-CAA protesters, and the injuries of dozens more.
Footage shows Delhi Police officers firing tear gas shells into a crowd, followed by baton large charges. By Wednesday morning, the death toll had risen to at least 20. Among the dead are a 22-year-old rickshaw driver, a labourer, and a father of six.
A video that went viral on social media shows a dozen or so Muslim males being kicked and beaten before being forced by police to recite Vande Mataram — India's national song and a nationalist ode of sorts — as they lay defenceless on the ground.
Another shows an isolated Muslim man being mercilessly punched and kicked by a mob of dozens of pro-government street thugs, as cars and shops around him are vandalised, while another shows a Muslim shrine being torched with a petrol bomb.
“Hindus have woken up after long [passivity],” one man, who identified as a pro-CAA protester, told a local journalist as he carried out an arson attack.
On Tuesday afternoon, a mob chanting Jai Shri Ram (victory to Lord Rama) and Hinduon ka Hindustan (India for Hindus) surrounded a mosque in Ashok Nagar, before setting it alight, while a man placed a Hanuman flag atop its minaret.
That footage also shows Delhi Police officers participating in the violence, joining pro-CAA protesters in throwing rocks at Muslims, underscores the dangerous new reality the country’s largest religious minority now face.
“The police is with us,” a Hindu man says in a video posted on Twitter, as his colleagues throw rocks toward mostly Muslim anti-CAA protesters.
Chillingly, these moments of violent mayhem and madness, which evidently enjoy the tacit and implicit approval of the Modi government, are perpetrated to an ode to a Hindu deity, but one now heard as a death chant to victims of this violence. Today, Jai Sri Ram is typically the last three words a Muslim hears the moment before he or she is attacked or murdered.
All across India, Modi radicalised saffron terrorists are assaulting, raping, and lynching Muslims with impunity, as government leaders openly refer to the religious minority as "termites" and "pests,” while they declare an urge for another 1947-scale Muslim exodus.
Earlier this month, hundreds of right-wing nationalists converged on New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University (JMI), chanting anti-Muslim slogans and shouting, “shoot the bastards” as police stood by as idle onlookers.
Recently, the international watchdog group Genocide Watch recently issued genocide alerts for Muslims in both Kashmir and Assam.
“Preparation for genocide is definitely underway in India…The next stage is extermination – that’s what we call a genocide,” said Professor Gregory Stanton, the author of the 10 Stages of Genocide in a speech to US lawmakers in December.
Certainly, both territories are ground zero in the government’s effort to marginalise and make invisible the country’s persecuted religious minority, with eight million Muslims in Kashmir living under a military lockdown and communications blackout that has now surpassed 200 days. Three million Muslims in Assam face the prospect of deportation or detainment as a result of measures implemented as a result of the NRC.
“My mother gave birth to me at home. My birth was never registered, so how do I produce a certificate?” a Muslim resident of Assam told Foreign Policy. “Nor do I have land ownership or tenancy records dating back five decades. Although we’re law-abiding citizens, having lived peacefully in India all our lives, we might be thrown out of the country.”
The events of the past 48 hours have demonstrated that the safety and well-being of India’s 200 million Muslims have never been in greater peril since the Gujarat pogroms and the violence of partition.
Should they become the target of overt state-sanctioned violence, recognising they always been the target of covert violence in the country, then the international community would be presented with a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions, resulting in the world’s largest pogrom and humanitarian crisis.
At the helm is Narendra Modi, a man accused of direct involvement in the country’s most recent anti-Muslim pogrom during his capacity as Gujarat’s chief minister.
If these realities aren’t enough to give rise to global alarm, then what is?
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