Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community to which they normally “belong.” They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways.
In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches, incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarization of the majority community in a country that prides itself for its pluralism and diversity.
Their meticulously planned agenda is to gain absolute power in the country in the 2024 national elections. More so, it is a roadmap toward 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.
The fascist ideology of the RSS is anti-Constitution with the primary objective of declaring India as a “Hindu Rashtra” as soon as possible. Several of them speak about 2025. Whether the vast majority of the people of India will actually allow them to make this wish come true is at the moment anyone’s guess. “Majoritarianism” in the country though is alive and kicking!
The latest conflict to hog national headlines is the incident at the Gyanvapi Mosque-Kashi Vishwanath in Varanasi. It has become a long-drawn dispute that goes as far back as 1991.
According to reports, a Shivling was discovered within the disputed Gyanvapi premise’s Wuzukhana (the place where ablutions are performed).
(Editor’s note: A Shivling or a Shiva Linga is a symbol that represents Lord Shiva in Hinduism.)
Reports claim that the Shivling was discovered after the water inside a pond-like well, which is used as Wuzukhana by Muslims, was pumped out of it. After the Shivling was unearthed during the survey on May 16, a Civil Judge ordered the sealing of the disputed Gyanvapi structure. In its order, the court stated that the Shivling discovery is substantial evidence, and asked the CRPF commandant to secure the premises and prevent Muslims from entering.
However, on May 17, the Supreme Court, issued notice on pleas challenging the orders of the District Court regarding the Gyanvapi Mosque and passed an interim order that while the area within the mosque where an alleged “Shivling” was said to be found should be protected, Muslims must not be restricted from entering and praying in the mosque.
The Committee of Management of Anjuman Intezamia Masjid has been contending this order arguing that the court’s directions are contrary to the provisions of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, which specifically states that except for the Ram Janmabhoomi–Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, the nature of all places of worship shall be maintained as it was on August 15, 1947.
In a detailed and well researched article in the well-known news portal scroll.in, Umang Poddar writes, “Rather than dismissing them under the Places of Worship Act, 1991, courts often allow petitions against mosques to fester, thus helping Hindutva politics.”
This is a worrisome trend that is taking place particularly in the lower courts when small-time judges, to ensure their place in the sun and for their career promotions, bend over to cater to the whims and fancies of their political masters, giving no importance to impartiality and the future of the country.
Already, since the past couple of years, Hindutva elements have been disrupting the communal harmony in and around the archaeological site of the 416-year-old Our Lady of Health Church in Sancoale, in Goa, and tried to perform some religious rituals in front of the church. They have some preposterous claims, that the church was built on the ruins of a Laxmi Narasimha temple. This, like several other temples, which were apparently razed to the ground where churches were built some 500 years earlier, need to be rebuilt.
In Karnataka, Pramod Muthalik, the founder and chief of the right-wing organization “Sri Ram Sene,” continues with his vicious attacks on Muslims and Christians.
On May 13, addressing a gathering in Mysore, he claimed that thousands of Hindus were being converted forcibly to Christianity stating, “Every day, thousands of Hindus are being converted into Christianity. The conversion is being done through deceit and force. The only way to deal this issue is by bringing a stringent law against conversion and by also demolishing illegal churches by bulldozing them.”
A few days earlier, members of his organization were detained for playing Hindu devotional songs using loudspeakers to demand a ban on the “azan.”
Fascists are also “goebbelsian” in their modus operandi. “Tell a lie a thousand times and people will believe it is the truth” was the axiom of Joseph Goebbels, the Minister for Propaganda in Hitler’s Reich (regime) from 1933 to 1945. Goebbels, at that time controled every means of communication: from radio to cinema, from publishing to oral communications. Exactly what is happening in India today with “godified” media. It paid rich dividends for those in power, but with disastrous consequences for the ordinary people.
The bogey of “conversion” is clear example of a “goebbelsian” strategy being effectively used today. Lies, half-truths, and divisive politics by the ruling regime have placed anti-conversion laws on center stage. The regime is proving to the world that they do not have the capacity or the competency to deal with serious problems affecting the country today: from an economy that is on a downward spiral to the growing impoverishment of the masses, from rising unemployment to a pathetic ranking in the social sector.
The Karnataka Government recently took the ordinance route to give effect to the controversial and anti-Constitutional “Karnataka Right to Freedom of Religion Bill 2021.” The law is violative of Article 25 of the Constitution. On May 17, the Governor of the State, who is the Constitutional Authority meant to safeguard the rights of all citizens, abdicated his duty and gave assent to the ordinance proving that he is a mere puppet in the Hindutva agenda.
There is much more. This includes the communalization of education from mandating the study of the Bhagwad Gita, to the deification of Savarkar and Godse; the prevention and the destruction of small enterprises belonging to members of the minority community in temple areas; the systematic campaign of what people eat and wear; the targeting of minorities when they worship. These are all intricate pieces of a carefully planned agenda to rouse the sentiments of the majority community.
The writing is on the wall! The key question at this moment is if the members from the majority community have the vision and the sagacity to deal with this “majoritarianism,” stop it at this juncture, and ensure a better and more harmonious future for all? The directives from the Supreme Court on May 19 regarding the Gyanvapi Mosque imbroglio will hopefully be a new dawn toward this.
Father Cedric Prakash, SJ ([email protected]), is a human rights, reconciliation, and peace activist and writer.