- All lower castes and minorities are mistreated, especially Muslims
Hatred on the basis of caste and creed or race and religion is considered the most heinous social crime in all civilized societies. Presence of hatred on all such bases proves the moral bankruptcy and ethical barrenness of a society. The Hindu has recently reported from Madhya Pradesh, India that the family members of a 21-year-old tribal woman assaulted her with sticks for allegedly eloping with a Dalit man. The woman was a resident of Gatbori village, about 90 km from Dhar in Madhya Pradesh. According to the paper, the family members were unhappy over her affair with the man with whom she had eloped recently but later returned home. On her return she was forced to marry a man of her own caste but she refused. Someone present there on the scene made a video of the incident which later gone viral on social media. Four accused have yet been arrested while the other three are still on the run. For the Dalits living in the Indian society, facing such brutalities is simply a routine matter; they know that they cannot change their caste and they know that the upper-caste Hindus would never accept them as human beings.
Every day, the papers are replete with the news of maltreatment of low-caste Hindus, commonly known as Dalits or ‘Untouchables’. Not only in Madhya Pradesh but everywhere in India, the Dalits have to face the same insult, disrespect and rudeness. Last year in June, the BBC reported that three Dalit boys were stripped, beaten and paraded naked by villagers in the western state of Maharashtra for swimming in a well that belonged to an upper-caste family. In that incident too, the video of the ‘activity’ was posted online which showed the Dalit boys covering themselves with leaves as a man hits them with a stick and a belt. In another incident of the same kind in the western state of Gujarat a 13-year-old Dalit boy, Mahesh Rathod, was brutally beaten for wearing a pair of leather shoes, ‘mojris.’ This type of shoes is traditionally worn by upper-caste Hindus in some parts of India. The details of this brutality with the innocent boy are more heart-rending. According to the local media, the boy was approached by a group of men who asked him which caste he belonged to. When he said he was a Dalit, they started abusing and beating him for posing as an upper-caste member by wearing jeans, mojris and a gold chain. Unfortunately this maltreatment is not limited only to the Dalits; the extremist Hindus treat all minorities including the Muslims and the Christians and the Sikhs in the same way; the Muslims are no doubt the worst victims of this maltreatment.
A report from Human Rights Watch published in February 2019 said that between May 2015 and December 2018, at least 44 people belonging to minorities were killed across 12 Indian states; around 36 of them were Muslims
On July 8, in Madhya Pradesh’s Khandwa district more than hundred local Hindu villagers made 25 Muslim men hostage and tied them to a rope for transporting cows to Maharashtra. The helpless cattle transporters were forced to chant ‘gau mata ki jai’ (long live Mother Cow) while doing sit-ups and holding their ears. The same was done to a Muslim trader, Shaukat Ali, just a few days before the recent elections. The BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan said in a report on the sorry-plight of Shaukat Ali, “With an increase in hate crimes against Muslims in India in recent years, some fear the world’s largest democracy is becoming dangerously intolerant under the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.” According to the details provided by the media, Shaukat Ali, a Muslim trader in the north-eastern state of Assam, was returning from his work when a mob of extremist Hindus detained him on the way. The mob forced him to kneel down in a pool of mud and started beating him. Someone among the attackers shouted on him, “Why do you sell beef here?” Another yelled, “Are you Bangladeshi?” Shaukat Ali told the BBC reporter showing him the injuries to his rib cage and his head, “They beat me with a stick and they kicked me in the face.” He further said, “I wasn’t just injured physically – I was stripped of my dignity. The mob compelled me, a devout Muslim, to eat pork, forced me to chew it and then gulp it down.” This type of maltreatment is not limited only to beef-sellers like Shaukat Ali; this is the fate of all Muslims whose population in India is more than 172 million. A report from Human Rights Watch published in February 2019 said that between May 2015 and December 2018, at least 44 people belonging to minorities were killed across 12 Indian states; around 36 of them were Muslims. As far as the Muslims in India are concerned, they expect more brutality, more hostility and more cruelty at the hands of Hindu extremists under the BJP government, as the government is headed by Narendra Modi, whose own hands were bloodstained in the 2002 Gujarat anti-Muslims riots. He is the same person who was declared as a terrorist by international media just a few years back and was not allowed to enter many Western states over his gross misconduct. In presence of such a hostile leader like Modi, how could things go smooth for the minorities, particularly the Muslims, in India?