Democracy & Secularism
Under The Modi Regime
New Delhi, June 18, 2015
Violence, and Sangh Parivar threats, against religious minorities mounts; Government targets Education, Social sector, Dissent, Media, Science & Culture
This report is an attempt to document intense and multi-pronged attack unleashed on the democratic rights of citizens and secular values enshrined in the constitution of India. Since the present regime came to power we have witnessed that the citizens rights and secular ethos, secured during the past sixty years, have been trampled upon with impunity. The purpose of documenting this multi faceted attack on our diversity and pluralism is to make the damage visible.
We could document only a fraction of what has happened during the past year due to paucity of resources, both human and financial. This report however clearly breaks the myth that there have been no riots under the present regime. The strategy has changed, Sangh has realized that large-scale violence attracts international media attention, and therefore now, meticulously planned high-intensity localized violence coupled with high-pitched hate campaigns is used across India to polarize the people and further marginalize the minorities.
In order to weaken the India democracy, the administrative, legal, scientific and educational, structures created during the past sixty year have either been demolished or tempered. The onslaught has left these institutions permanently damaged and show the direction in which the present regime is likely to push the country.
The damage done in the last one year to India’s ethos of secularism, communal harmony and freedom of expression may be irreparable with the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, BJP chief ministers, and the top echelons of the Sangh Parivar moving fast in changing policy, people and programmes in education, social security and the protection of religious and ethnic minorities. The cultural DNA of India of pluralism and diversity is being threatened.
The meddling with the judicial system at the highest level threatens to foreclose the one option that is left to the citizens to challenge, stop and reverse this trend. The welfare network is rapidly being demolished, many policies changed at the behest of the corporate sector.
This is highlighted in a report ‘365 DAYS – DEMOCRACY AND SECULARISM UNDER THE MODI REGIME”, edited by John Dayal and Shabnam Hashmi with assessments by Harsh Mander, Ram Puniyani, Cedric Prakash, John Dayal, Apoorvanand, Karen Gabriel, PK Vijayan, Seema Mustafa, Kriti Sharma, VB Rawat, Dhruv Sangari and PVS Kumar.
The Civil society analysis of the period May 2014 to May 2015 shows a seamless integration and adoption of the policies of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh by the NDA government entirely dominated by the Bharatiya Janata party. This has led to almost total impunity, seen in the failure to act in cases of speeches by Sangh leaders to incite violence against Muslims and Christians.
Mr. Modi has made a few remarks condemning violence, but has refused to identify the perpetrators of violence. No politician or Sangh activist has been punished. The RSS general secretary, Mr. Mohan Bhagwat, has continued to make outrageous speeches targeting minorities. In June he was given z-Class security cover, at par with that given to the Home Minister of India.
The Sangh’s own campaign to malign, isolate, criminalize and target Christians and Muslim, inciting mobs to commit violence against them, has been overlooked by central and state police forces. Never in free India has the public discourse been so poisoned by MPs and ministers of the elected ruling alliance. BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj labels madrassas as ‘hubs of terror’ and exhorts Hindu women to bear four children. He calls Nathuram Godse, Gandhi’s assassin, as a ‘patriot’ and ‘martyr’. Another BJP MP Yogi Adityanath says ‘for every Hindu converted, 100 Muslim girls will be converted as retaliation.’ Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti describes those who do not worship Ram as ‘haramzade’ or bastards. A Shiv Sena MP force-feeds a Muslim canteen functionary during his roza fast. Another, Sanjay Raut, calls for the disenfranchisement of Muslims.
All too often, police has been complicit in the violence. In Chhattisgarh, villages are passing orders banning the entry of priests of faiths other than Hinduism.
At least 43 deaths, 212 cases targeting Christians and 175 cases targeting Muslims, 234 cases of Hate Speech have been recorded between 26th May 2014 and June 2015, marking almost one year of the National Development Alliance government of Mr. Narendra Modi. The number of dead is other than the 108 killed in Assam in attacks on Muslims by armed tribal political groups.
Over 90% of the cases recorded in this report are over and above the 600 cases documented by the Indian express investigative series in August 2014.
In the very first few weeks of the new government, by its own admission, 113 communal incidents took place in various parts of the country during in just the two moths May-June 2014 in which 15 people were killed and 318 others were injured,
The government’s efforts at reassurance of minorities have been pathetic. Instead of investigating the violence, it has sought to trivialize it by its explanations on several incidents that caught international attention, and invited comments from various dignitaries including President Pranab Mukherjee.
The new government is intolerant of civil society and dissent. Organisations like INSAF, People’s Watch, Sabrang Trust, Citizens for Justice and Peace, Greenpeace India among others were systematically targeted, maligned and harassed. Others have been subject to direct and indirect intimidation. Select activists have been individually targeted.
During the past one-year we have also witnessed an unprecedented four pronged attack on scientific temper, rational thinking and scientific establishment of the country. This includes providing credibility to myths and superstitions, official platforms for anti-science activities, budget cuts and crippling scientific institutes by political interference.
There are serious efforts to undermine diversity and pluralism and convert India into a mono-cultural, standardized society. Should the idea of cultural chauvinism and nationalism succeed, it would be nothing short of a death knell for all that India stands for.
The report has been made possible due to the cooperation and remarkable efforts of many individuals and fraternal organizations working in various states.
Although not documented in this report but the past year has also seen strong resistance to the nefarious designs of the Sangh, across India. We hope that this report will help in further strengthening the people’s resistance against these divisive forces.