Idealism, and Now, Realism: The Right Wing of Hinduism is Poised to Take Over the Government

 

Everything in my last post about “Hindu tolerance” represents the best that is Hinduism.   That view must be countered by another side of Hinduism, a side especially relevant at this moment—the right-wing of Hindu nationalism and fundamentalism and its promotion of “Hindutva” (Hindu-ness) and of India as a Hindu, rather than a secular nation.

A watershed national election began yesterday. The political party most associated with the fundamentalist, right wing of Hinduism, the Bharatya Janata Party, is led by a man named Naredra Modi, who is most likely to become the next Prime Minister of India.

Modi is a man whom the United States has barred from stepping foot on its soil. Why?  Because of his alleged complicity in mass communal violence against Muslims in the state of Gujarat in 2002 when he was Chief Minister of the state.

The New York Times has a “Timeline” on its website that tracks the events leading up to the mass violence and Modi’s possible complicity in it. Here, below are a couple excerpts.  The reference to “Ayodhya,” is important because, ten years prior to the riots, Hindu fundamentalists/nationalists destroyed a mosque in the city of Ayodhya, built on a site where they claimed there once stood a temple to Ram, a Hindu incarnation of the god Vishnu, until it was destroyed in the 16th century and the mosque built in its place by India’s first Mughal (Muslim) ruler.

(Apologies that the hyperlinks do not work.)

“Train Fire Kills Hindu Pilgrims

“A train filled with Hindu pilgrims returning to Gujarat from Ayodhya stops in the town of Godhra, which is 40 percent Muslim and prone to religious violence. The Hindu activists had reportedly been chanting religious slogans. A scuffle begins with Muslim residents.

“Within 15 minutes, Coach S-6 ignites, followed by cities, towns and villages across the western state of Gujarat.

“The charred bodies of the 59 victims are displayed for the public in Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest city. Close aides of the state’s chief minister, Narendra Modi, who has only been in power a few months, endorse a widespread strike. These two decisions will be widely criticized as stoking anti-Muslim sentiment.

“In 2005, an Indian government investigation finds that the fire was an accident and not caused by Muslims. The report is one of a number of politically competing inquiries.

“Hindu Mobs Turn on Muslims For Weeks

“Blaming Muslims for the deaths of the pilgrims, mobs of Hindus rampage, rape, loot and kill in a spasm of violence that rages for more than two months. Mothers are skewered, children set afire and fathers hacked to pieces.

“About 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, are killed. Some 20,000 Muslim homes and businesses and 360 places of worship are destroyed, and roughly 150,000 people are displaced.

“The two biggest massacres are in Naroda Patiya, where more than 90 people are killed, and at the Gulbarg Society, a Muslim housing complex where a rumor encouraged by a World Hindu Council leader incites a mob. Muslims take refuge in the home of Ehsan Jafri, a former member of Parliament from the Indian National Congress party. While the attacks continue for more than six hours, Mr. Jafri calls a number of influential people for help, but none arrive. Sixty-nine people are killed, including Mr. Jafri, who is hacked to pieces and burned.

“There are widespread allegations that the B.J.P., which leads the state of Uttar Pradesh and the national governing party, and the World Hindu Council — both part of the same Hindu nationalist family — were complicit and in some cases instigated the mobs. The party and the council both deny the charges.

“The day after the train attack, for example, police officers in Ahmedabad do not arrest a single person among the tens of thousands of angry Hindus.

“A top state official tells one investigation panel that Mr. Modi ordered officials to take no action against rioters. That official was murdered. Thousands of cases against rioters are dismissed by the police for lack of evidence despite eyewitness accounts.”

So there’s a view of Hindutva, the fundamentalist, contemporary, right-wing of Hinduism, which very well may be in charge of the country in a few days.

 

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