One year after India saw itself close to civil war, justice for the victims of the Delhi riots has been slow. At least 53 were killed in the religious violence in February 2020 after the passage of a new citizenship law caused mobs and counter-protests to clash in the streets of Delhi. Indian Muslims called out the bill for its anti-Muslim language, the government stating otherwise.
Under India’s secular constitution, everybody is guaranteed equal rights regardless of their religion. However, India’s ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, was accused of trying to keep India a Hindu-majority nation. The Citizen Amendment Act was passed on Dec. 10, 2019, and guaranteed citizenship to immigrants from some of India’s neighboring countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan. Despite these countries being made up of Muslim-majority people, the act would only apply to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis or Christians. According to the BJP, Muslims were not included because they are not a historically persecuted minority in those nations. This would mean that Indian Muslims who do not have the documents to prove their citizenship in India would not qualify, and many are afraid that they would be targeted for their religious beliefs. But it’s not just Muslims who were worried about the CAA, Hindus were too. Millions could be left out of citizenship just because their names are spelled differently in government documents.
Although a majority of the CAA protestors were Muslim, there were many of different faiths who also did not support the bill. When violence ensued, Hindu-majority counter-protestors attacked the Muslim-majority protestors and Muslims attacked back. Anti-Muslim violence resulted in destroyed mosques, cars on fire and skirmishes in mixed neighborhoods where residents had previously lived peacefully. Photographic and video evidence even showed police siding with Hindu extremists, some taking part in the beating of Muslims.
It’s clear that the BJP has been singling out Islam’s followers in the Hindu-majority nation. In Dec. 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party passed a law that abolished all Islamic schools. They said that it had nothing to do with religion but more to do with the schools’ “substandard education,” an interesting detail considering nothing had gotten better for Muslims in India that year. Identified attackers of the Delhi riots have not even been punished for their crimes due to a lack of police interest; victims claiming that the New Delhi police have gone easy on Hindus and that propaganda has spurred more hatred between the communities.
Although blame has been thrown back and forth between Hindus and Muslims, there were a number of victims who were not actually participating in the protests: one was an elderly, another was dragged from his home. Muslim victims feel targeted by their Arabic names which have been used to identify them despite their lack of involvement in the violence. No matter the amount of eyewitness accounts, complaints have not been officially accepted by government officials who seek to push the Hindu-extremism in India.
Religious violence is sure to continue and could be a sign of a future civil war if the BJP does not address Muslims’ concerns. It is a clear sign of Islamophobia. Not to mention that they have shown an ignorance of the fact that the sites of burned and demolished mosques are now being replaced by other temples of worship. They don’t care about the Muslim victims and the New Delhi police serve to push the BJP’s extremist agenda.