Resist the Republic of Fear: March Against Mob Lynching in India
15 August 2017 – Meet Tavistock Square at 19:00 to march to Indian High Commission
On the 70th anniversary of India's Independence, we must not remain silent and allow the forces of the Hindu right to transform India into a Republic of Fear. Join us in a torchlit march in solidarity with the victims and survivors of the ongoing epidemic of mob lynching of Muslims, Christians and Dalits in India. We will be marching from the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Tavistock Square to the Indian High Commission.
On India’s Independence Day we will remember 15-year-old Junaid (murdered in Ballabhgarh, UP), Asghar Ali (Ramgarh, Jharkhand), Otera Bibi (Murshidabad, West Bengal), Zafar Hussein (Pratapgarh, Rajasthan), Dalit families of Shabbirpur village (Saharanpur, UP), Pehlu Khan (Alwar, Rajasthan), the Sarvaiya family (Una, Gujarat), Rama Singrahiya (Sodhana, Gujarat) Mohammad Akhlaque (Dadri, UP), and the many others who have been brutally assaulted or murdered at the hands of lynch mobs, and we will pledge in their names to stand together against this violence and the Hindu supremacist Brahmanical ideology which is fuelling it.
Human rights violations which target religious minorities, specifically Muslims and Christians, and Dalits are occurring on a vast and horrific scale in India today. While violence against Muslim and Christian communities have been increasing since the early 1990s, and upper caste atrocities on Dalits are a longstanding phenomenon, there has been a massive escalation in both since Narendra Modi ‘s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power at the Centre in 2014. Emboldened by the victory of the BJP, Hindu supremacist gangs with links to the ruling party, or in some parts of India directly set up by the state, are the chief perpetrators of these abuses which are occuring unchecked.
Some of the types of extreme violations affecting Muslims, Christians and Dalits include:
- Lynchings of Muslims and Dalits, and stripping, flogging and public humiliations have become widespread. These terrible acts of violence are taking place across India, including in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Assam and even in the outskirts of the national capital, Delhi. To start with the pretext was often that the victims have eaten beef, or slaughtered cows, or are transporting cows in order to slaughter them. The perpetrators are Hindu-supremacist gangs of so-called Cow Vigilantes. In the vast majority of cases, they have been neither punished nor condemned by the government. Instead the police have often charged the victims and BJP state governments have given tacit encouragement to the violence by making statements and announcing policies which call for harsh penalties for cow slaughter. While this violence continues, more recently there have been attacks which do not claim any motive other than sheer religious hatred. Christians are also under attack. Here the scale of violence is demonstrated by the figures for 2016 alone: 10 people were killed and over 500 members of the clergy or community leaders were physically attacked.
- There is a horrifying rise in the rapes, mutilation, acid attacks and other forms of violence, often followed by murder, of women and girls of all communities, but Dalit women and girls and those from religious minorities are being specifically targeted. Among recent cases are two Muslim women raped and their relatives killed after being falsely accused of eating beef in Haryana and the gruesome gang rape of the recently buried body of a Muslim woman in UP. In 2016 alone, 34 Christian women including nuns were raped, molested or beaten. Some of the worst violence against Christians is taking place in Chhattisgarh which has long had a BJP government.
- Muslim or Dalit and so-called ‘lower-caste’ men in relationships with, or married to, Hindu or upper-caste women have been brutally attacked or murdered – in the name of protecting the purity of the women involved. In the case of Muslim men these murders are being instigated and justified by the baseless trope of ‘love jihad’ according to which Muslim men abduct and have relationships with Hindu women only to convert them to Islam.
- Many areas, particularly in UP, but also elsewhere have seen attempts at ethnic cleansing with threats and attempts to displace long-established Muslim communities. 2013 saw a pogrom in Muzaffarnagar UP which had a chilling similarity with the genocidal killings of Muslims which took place in Gujarat in 2002 when Prime Minister Modi was Chief Minister of the state. In Muzaffarnagar some 50,000 people were displaced, many were children. As human rights organisations have noted the attacks in both Muzaffarnagar as in Gujarat were deliberately engineered by Hindu supremacists.
- The election of Yogi Adityanath as Chief Minister of UP, India’s most populous state, in March 2017 has clearly made the human rights situation far worse, further emboldening those perpetrating communal and caste violence in UP and spilling over to other states. Adityanath has a record of hate speech and has several criminal cases pending against him. He stated in 2005: “I will not stop till I turn UP and India into a Hindu rashtra (state)” Since he became Chief Minister, Hindu supremacist groups and in particular the Hindu Yuva Vahini a violent youth organisation founded by him, have engineered a series of attacks on Muslims and Dalits. Recent incidents include burning and looting of Dalit homes by upper caste mobs in Saharanpur who shouted ‘the police is with us, the administration is with us’, and the lynching of an elderly Muslim man in Bulandshahr on the pretext that he helped a relative elope with a Hindu girl.
The cases mentioned above are only a small indication of what is now a human rights emergency with religious minorities and Dalits under attack as never before. But resistance is also growing, as in the protests led by women in Jharkhand after Asghar Ali’s murder, and the massive #NotInMyName demonstrations against mob lynching taking place in cities across India as well as internationally in London and elsewhere. On the 70th anniversary of India’s Independence, we must not remain silent and allow the forces of the Hindu right to transform India into a Republic of Fear.
South Asia Solidarity Group
SOAS India Society
Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance
Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK
Voice of Dalit International (VODI)
Together 4 Good
Other organisations tbc