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India

Pogromists in power in India

Monday 9 May 2022, by Etienne Bridel

India’s prime minister since 2014, Narendra Modi, who leads the BJP, the main party of the Hindu far right, is pursuing a neo-liberal and authoritarian policy whose consequences are increasingly serious for the Indian people. Growing military tensions with China and Pakistan, large-scale social revolts such as the blockade of New Delhi by the peasants of Punjab and Haryana during the autumn and winter of 2020, total indifference to problems of pollution and increasingly uncontrollable climate change and so on.

Faced with these threats, the regime continues to seek to channel the exasperation of the Hindu masses against religious minorities, primarily the Christian (28 million people) and Muslim (170 million) communities.

The far right bulldozer

Linked to the most powerful Indian capitalists, such as Gautam Adani, since the start of his rise to power, Narendra Modi has through them a financial and media power out of all proportion to his rivals. Thanks to this indispensable support, Modi, backed by the Indian big bourgeoisie, has since 2014 been pursuing a policy of systematic dismantling of the Indian welfare state while attacking head-on the conquests of the workers’ movement as well as those of the small and middle peasant bourgeoisie... an overwhelming majority of the population.

To pursue such a policy without creating widespread revolt, the BJP can count on the open support of almost all the media, controlled for the most part by its associates. But propaganda alone would not suffice. Since his accession to central power and already before as governor of Gujarat (from 2001 to 2014), Modi has used pogroms as a method of government. Aimed mainly against the Muslim minority, these terrorist riots are most often co-organized by BJP militias and police forces, like the latest one, on 16th April in Jahangirpuri. This is a a predominantly Muslim and poor neighborhood of New Delhi where clashes broke out between armed Hindu demonstrators and residents who repelled them with stones.

A few days later, the North Delhi municipality – led by the BJP – sent bulldozers to raze shops and shops in retaliation for the stone-throwing. This practice of systematic demolition of homes in Muslim neighborhoods suspected of resisting order has become widespread in many regions ruled by the far right. So much so that Yogi Adityanath, the governor of Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous and poorest region, is now nicknamed by his followers “Guru Bulldozer.”

Islamophobic obsession

Beyond the riots orchestrated by Hindu militias, a set of infamous rumors and discriminatory measures are being used to target minorities, primarily Muslims, but also Christians, untouchables, lower castes and so on.

Regarding Muslims, the far right systematically emphasizes a significantly higher than average population growth (although it is tending to stabilize gradually) by attributing it to “love Jihad” (the marriage of young Hindu women to Muslim men) and to polygamy! Waving the spectre of the “great replacement”" (which is far from being on the agenda with 79.9% of Indians being Hindu now against 80.5% in 2011), militias are now patrolling public places, especially on university campuses, to monitor the morality of young girls, and some Indian states have tightened their legislation to the point of making mixed marriages virtually impossible.

The regime’s demographic and Islamophobic obsession has seen a clear acceleration with the abolition of the autonomous status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019, the only predominantly Muslim region, now open to Hindu “colonization”. At the same time, the law opening citizenship to Hindu refugees from neighbouring states (Bangladesh, Pakistan) was an opportunity for the government to deprive millions of Muslim Indian women (1.9 million in the northern state of Assam alone) of their citizenship, leading to large demonstrations. In the capital, these demonstrations were curbed by an anti-Muslim pogrom, killing about fifty people.

These spectacular shows of force by the Hindu far right are a way of conditioning the Indian population to accept the bigger massacres still in preparation. But it is also a question of strengthening the casteist and patriarchal order originating from the depths of the ages, even though the different groups discriminated against (religious minorities, low castes, ethnic minorities and so on), who are also the poorest, undoubtedly form the majority of the Indian population!

A gigantic force that is still unknown, but which under the pressure of events could escape the destiny that the current masters of India are preparing for it.

May 2022

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