Pakistan FM Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Lashes Out At Indian EAM Subramanyam Jaishankar

“If the FM (foreign minister) of India (Jaishankar) was being honest, then he knows as well as I, that the RSS (India's militant Hindu organization) does not believe in Gandhi, in his ideology. They do not see this individual as the founder of India, they hero-worship the terrorist that assassinated Gandhi", said Pakistan's Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at a press conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. "Osama Bin Laden is dead but the butcher of Gujarat lives and he is the prime minister of India", he added. Mr. Bhutto Zardari was responding to a question from the media asked at the behest of the Indian Foreign Minister Subramanyam Jaishankar.  Earlier at the UNSC, Indian External Affairs Minister Subramanyam Jaishankar had unveiled a statue of Mohandas K. Gandhi at the UN and accused Pakistan of "hosting Osama Bin Laden". Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse, a member of the militant Hindu organization RSS. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a member of the RSS. 

Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at the United Nations Headquarters in New York

Here are some excerpts of what Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said at the media briefing at the UN:  

“He [Narendra Modi] was banned from entering this country [the United States]....these are the prime minister and foreign minister of the RSS (India's right-wing Hindu nationalist organization)....The RSS draws its inspiration from Hitler’s SS (the German Nazi Party’s militant wing Schutzstaffel)...(According to the RSS) we (Muslims) are terrorists whether we are Muslims in Pakistan and we’re terrorists whether we’re Muslims in India.....They (Modi and BJP) are not even attempting to wash the blood of the people of Gujarat off their hand..."Butcher of Gujarat” was now the “Butcher of Kashmir”". 

Last month,  the US State Department bracketed Indian Prime Minister Modi with murderous dictators like Congo's Laurent Kabila and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. Speaking about the US decision to grant immunity to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said that it was “not the first time” that the US government has designated immunity to foreign leaders and listed four cases. “Some examples: President Aristide in Haiti in 1993; President Mugabe in Zimbabwe in 2001; Prime Minister Modi in India in 2014; and President Kabila in the DRC in 2018. This is a consistent practice that we have afforded to heads of state, heads of government, and foreign ministers,” he said. 

BJP HIndutva Leaders Modi, Yogi and Shah

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India was barred from entering the United States from 2005 to 2014 for his involvement in the massacre of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002.  In 2015, a US judge dismissed a lawsuit against Modi after the US government argued that he is immune to accusations as a sitting head of government. While Modi has denied any involvement in the Gujarat anti-Muslim pogrom, he has never even expressed any regret over the killings in Gujarat when he was the Chief Minister of the Indian state. 

While Modi has refused to accept any responsibility for the massacre of over 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, his party BJP's leaders have not shied away from claiming "credit" for it. Just yesterday, Modi's right-hand man and current Home Minister Amit Shah said Muslims were "taught a lesson" in 2002. He said that "after they were taught a lesson in 2002, these elements left that path (of violence). They refrained from indulging in violence from 2002 till 2022. BJP has established permanent peace in Gujarat by taking strict action against those who used to indulge in communal violence". 

In 2002 when Narendra Modi was chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, hundreds of young Muslim girls were sexually assaulted, tortured and killed.  These rapes were condoned by the ruling BJP, whose refusal to intervene lead to the rape and killing of thousands and displacement of 200,000 Muslims.

In 2012, a former Chief Minister of Gujarat Mr. Shankersinh Vaghela accused Modi's state government of having blood on its hand: "2002 me jo katl-e-aam hua uspe wo sarkar bani hai. Iske baad encounter hui, uske upar ye sarkar bani thi. Sarkar banti hai, lekin ye jo conspiracy karke sarkar banana hai, ye Gujarat aur desh ki janata jaanti hai aur aaj wo repeat nah o, iske liye hum janata ko request karte hain (The foundation of this (Modi) government rests on the 2002 carnage. Governments are made, but not on conspiracies. And the people of Gujarat know this, and that's why we are requesting the people for a change)," Mr Vaghela said.

Since his election to India's top elected office, Modi has elevated fellow right-wing Hindu extremists to positions of power in India. Yogi Adiyanath, known for his highly inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric, was hand-picked in 2016 by Modi to head India's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh.

Adiyanath's supporters brag about digging up Muslim women from their graves and raping them. In a video uploaded in 2014,  he said, “If [Muslims] take one Hindu girl, we’ll take 100 Muslim girls. If they kill one Hindu, we’ll kill 100 Muslims.”

Yogi wants to "install statues of Goddess Gauri, Ganesh and Nandi in every mosque”.  Before his election, he said, “If one Hindu is killed, we won’t go to the police, we’ll kill 10 Muslims”.  He endorsed the beef lynching of Indian Muslim Mohammad Akhlaque and demanded that the victim's family be charged with cow slaughter.

Madhav S. Golwalkar, considered among the founders of the Hindu Nationalist movement in India, saw Islam and Muslims as enemies. He said: “Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindusthan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting to shake off the despoilers".

In his book We, MS Golwalkar wrote the following in praise of what Nazi leader Adolf Hitler did to Jews as a model for what Hindus should do to Muslims in India: "To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."

Paul Richard Brass, professor emeritus of political science and international relations at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, has spent many years researching communal riots in India. He has debunked all the action-reaction theories promoted by Hindu Nationalists like Modi. He believes these are not spontaneous but planned and staged as "a grisly form of dramatic production" by well-known perpetrators from the Sangh Parivar of which Prime Minister Modi has been a member since his youth.

Here's an excerpt of Professor Brass's work:

"Events labelled “Hindu-Muslim riots” have been recurring features in India for three-quarters of a century or more. In northern and western India, especially, there are numerous cities and town in which riots have become endemic. In such places, riots have, in effect, become a grisly form of dramatic production in which there are three phases: preparation/rehearsal, activation/enactment, and explanation/interpretation. In these sites of endemic riot production, preparation and rehearsal are continuous activities. Activation or enactment of a large-scale riot takes place under particular circumstances, most notably in a context of intense political mobilization or electoral competition in which riots are precipitated as a device to consolidate the support of ethnic, religious, or other culturally marked groups by emphasizing the need for solidarity in face of the rival communal group. The third phase follows after the violence in a broader struggle to control the explanation or interpretation of the causes of the violence. In this phase, many other elements in society become involved, including journalists, politicians, social scientists, and public opinion generally. At first, multiple narratives vie for primacy in controlling the explanation of violence. On the one hand, the predominant social forces attempt to insert an explanatory narrative into the prevailing discourse of order, while others seek to establish a new consensual hegemony that upsets existing power relations, that is, those which accept the violence as spontaneous, religious, mass-based, unpredictable, and impossible to prevent or control fully. This third phase is also marked by a process of blame displacement in which social scientists themselves become implicated, a process that fails to isolate effectively those most responsible for the production of violence, and instead diffuses blame widely, blurring responsibility, and thereby contributing to the perpetuation of violent productions in future, as well as the order that sustains them."

"In India, all this takes place within a discourse of Hindu-Muslim hostility that denies the deliberate and purposive character of the violence by attributing it to the spontaneous reactions of ordinary Hindus and Muslims, locked in a web of mutual antagonisms said to have a long history. In the meantime, in post-Independence India, what are labelled Hindu-Muslim riots have more often than not been turned into pogroms and massacres of Muslims, in which few Hindus are killed. In fact, in sites of endemic rioting, there exist what I have called “institutionalized riot systems,” in which the organizations of militant Hindu nationalism are deeply implicated. Further, in these sites, persons can be identified, who play specific roles in the preparation, enactment, and explanation of riots after the fact. Especially important are what I call the “fire tenders,” who keep Hindu-Muslim tensions alive through various inflammatory and inciting acts; “conversion specialists,” who lead and address mobs of potential rioters and give a signal to indicate if and when violence should commence; criminals and the poorest elements in society, recruited and rewarded for enacting the violence; and politicians and the vernacular media who, during the violence, and in its aftermath, draw attention away from the perpetrators of the violence by attributing it to the actions."

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Comment by Riaz Haq on January 21, 2023 at 10:16am
Watch: Ex-Foreign Minister Jack Straw Confirms UK Report that ‘Modi Directly Responsible’ for 2002 Riots
 
Jack Straw, who was Britain’s foreign secretary in 2002 when the Gujarat killings happened, has confirmed that the British high commissioner in India sent a report to the Foreign Office in London which said “Narendra Modi is directly responsible” for the killings in 2002 in Gujarat. “That was the feeling of those on the ground,” he said.
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BBC places Modi at heart of Gujarat riots, drawing ire of Indian government | Middle East Eye
 
Documentary reveals shocking details of British fact-finding mission after anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat 20 years ago
 

Rasheed, from the IAMC, said it was unsurprising that Modi's PR machine was out in full force to deny and distract from his role in the pogroms.

"They will do everything in their power to suppress its screening. But this important piece of journalism has already brought Mr Modi again under the international community's scanner for his role in 2002 and renewed calls to prosecute him," Rasheed added.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 24, 2023 at 11:03am

#Modi's #Hindutva voters know he's guilty and reward him for his role in #GujaratPogrom2002. Airing or not airing #modiDocumentary won't affect their love of Modi. #Islamophobia_in_india #BJP https://www.riazhaq.com/2022/11/us-brackets-indias-modi-with-murder...

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 24, 2023 at 9:33pm
#India's Ban on #BBC's #ModiDocumentary Backfires: It's now being screened across school campuses in India. “Frankly, the ban has been pretty stupid because it’s attracted far more attention to the documentary than would have been otherwise possible" https://time.com/6249393/the-modi-question-documentary-bbc-india-co...
 
 
This is compounded by the fact that banning a documentary that was not otherwise popular in India has only invited more viewers, says Hartosh Singh Bal, the political editor of Indian magazine The Caravan, who also appears in the documentary as a commentator. “Frankly, the ban has been pretty stupid because it’s attracted far more attention to the documentary than would have been otherwise possible,” says Bal. He adds that it is now being screened across school campuses as “an act of resistance” among teenagers who previously viewed these events as a dated chapter in history.
Comment by Riaz Haq on January 24, 2023 at 10:05pm

Godhra Fire Started By a Stove Inside the Train

https://thewire.in/communalism/godhra-where-the-fall-of-indias-demo...

The cause of that fire was known and not in doubt: it had begun in the centre of the carriage, possibly when someone knocked over a lighted cooking stove on which food was being warmed or tea made.

The flames had remained restricted to that area but the smoke the fire created had spread to the rest of the carriage, through the gaps between the upper and lower berths, and along the underside of the ceiling. As in S-6, the majority of deaths had resulted from asphyxiation. This explanation gained credibility because the railways were not using flame-retardant materials in second-class compartments then. So even a lighted match could start a fire and create large volumes of toxic smoke. What is more, cooking or warming one’s own food on long train journeys was, and may still be, a common practice among orthodox Hindus.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 27, 2023 at 4:58pm

India against Gandhi: Gandhi is now a major hate figure in Modi's India

by Ramachandra Guha

https://www.ft.com/content/a0b17ed9-092d-4e83-90fe-2a6cea952518

Gandhi is the major hate figure (in Modi's India). He is blamed for emasculating Indians by preaching non-violence; blamed for choosing the modernising Jawaharlal Nehru as his political heir instead of a more authentically “Hindu” figure; blamed for not stopping the creation of Pakistan; blamed for insisting that Muslims who stayed behind in India be given the rights of equal citizenship. BJP members of parliament hail Gandhi’s assassin Godse as a true “deshbhakt” (patriot); praise for him trends on Twitter every January 30; there are periodic plans to erect statues to him and temples in his memory. YouTube videos mocking Gandhi and charging him with betraying Hindus garner millions of views.

Seventy-five years after his assassination, the ‘father of the nation’ is a problem for Narendra Modi — but the country still needs his ideas

--------

Born in 1958, a decade after Gandhi’s death, I grew up in an atmosphere of veneration towards the Mahatma. One of my great-uncles helped to edit Gandhi’s Collected Works; another founded a pioneering initiative in community health inspired by Gandhi. These familial influences were consolidated and deepened by the public culture of the time. Gandhi was the father of the nation, the leader of the struggle for freedom against British rule, whose techniques of non-violent resistance had won admirers and imitators across the world. It was largely because of him that we were free and proudly independent, and it was largely because of him that — unlike neighbouring Pakistan — we gloried in the religious and linguistic diversity of our land. In our school assembly we sang a 17th-century hymn that Gandhi was particularly fond of, which he had rewritten to reflect his vision of the India he wished to leave behind. Hindus saw God as Ishwar; Gandhi’s adaptation asked us to see him as Allah too. And it was to these lines that our teachers drew our particular attention. The first criticisms of Gandhi that I remember encountering were in a book I read as a student at Delhi University. This was the autobiography of Verrier Elwin, an Oxford scholar who became a leading ethnographer of the tribes of central India. Elwin knew Gandhi well, and at one time considered himself a disciple. In later years, while he retained his admiration for the Mahatma’s moral courage and religious pluralism, Elwin became sharply critical of Gandhi’s advocacy of prohibition, which he thought damaging to tribal culture (where home-brewed alcohol was both a source of nutrition and an aid to dance and music), and of his exaltation of celibacy, which Elwin thought damaging to everyone.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 28, 2023 at 9:49pm

'Ideology Of Hate' Consuming #India, Says #Gandhi's Great-grandson. Tushar, 63, attributes this tectonic shift to the rise of Prime Minister Narendra #Modi and his #Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (#BJP). #Hindutva #Islamophobia #Hate #Violence https://www.barrons.com/news/ideology-of-hate-consuming-india-says-...

India's rising tide of Hindu nationalism is an affront to the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, his great-grandson says, ahead of the 75th anniversary of the revered independence hero's assassination.

Gandhi was shot dead at a multi-faith prayer meeting on January 30, 1948, by Nathuram Godse, a religious zealot angered by his victim's conciliatory gestures to the country's minority Muslim community.

Godse was executed the following year and remains widely reviled, but author and social activist Tushar Gandhi, one of the global peace symbol's most prominent descendants, says his views now have a worrying resonance in India.

"That whole philosophy has now captured India and Indian hearts, the ideology of hate, the ideology of polarisation, the ideology of divisions," he told AFP at his Mumbai home.

"For them, it's very natural that Godse would be their iconic patriot, their idol."

Tushar, 63, attributes this tectonic shift to the rise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Modi took office in 2014 and Tushar says his government is to blame for undermining the secular and multicultural traditions that his namesake sought to protect.

"His success has been built on hate, we must accept that," Tushar added.



"There is no denying that in his heart, he also knows what he is doing is lighting a fire that will one day consume India itself."

Today, Gandhi's assassin is revered by many Hindu nationalists who have pushed for a re-evaluation of his decision to murder a man synonymous with non-violence.

A temple dedicated to Godse was built near New Delhi in 2015, the year after Modi's election, and activists have campaigned to honour him by renaming an Indian city after him.

Godse was a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a still-prominent Hindu far-right group whose members conduct paramilitary drills and prayer meetings.



The RSS has long distanced itself from Godse's actions but remains a potent force, founding Modi's party decades ago to battle for Hindu causes in the political realm.

Modi has regularly paid respect to Gandhi's legacy but has refrained from weighing in on the campaign to rehabilitate his killer.

Tushar remains a fierce protector of his world-famous ancestor's legacy of "honesty, equality, unity and inclusiveness".

He has written two books about Gandhi and his wife Kasturba, regularly talks at public events about the importance of democracy and has filed legal motions in India's top court as part of efforts to defend the country's secular constitution.

His Mumbai abode, a post-independence flat in a quiet neighbourhood compound, is dotted with portraits and small statues of his famous relative along with a miniature spinning wheel -- a reference to Gandhi's credo of self-reliance.



Tushar is anxious but resigned to the prospect of Modi winning another term in next year's elections, an outcome widely seen as an inevitability given the weakness of his potential challengers.

"The poison is so deep, and they're so successful, that I don't see my ideology triumphing over in India for a long time now," he says.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 31, 2023 at 5:33pm

#India: #Hindutva Soundtrack of #hate. Hateful anti-#Muslim singers' songs/music streamed on #socialmedia platforms and played all across India with impunity, while the state does nothing to stop. #popMusic #HindutvaPop #Modi #Islamophobia #violence https://www.dw.com/en/india-soundtrack-of-hate/video-64544108


Sandeep Acharya is a popular musician. Millions of users stream his songs online, and thousands of fans attend his concerts. He belongs to India's Hindutva music scene — an Islamophobic scene that has been on the rise in India. Hindutva pop is often played when Hindu groups rally in India. Some songs have even sparked violence and riots.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 5, 2023 at 8:10am

As India marks its first 75 years, Gandhi is downplayed, even derided
A more muscular, chauvinistic India is casting aside the ‘father of the nation’ for other heroes

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/08/12/india-independence-...

When Indian screenwriter Vijayendra Prasad set out five years ago to write an action film, he wanted to tell a fictional story but pay tribute to the “real warriors” of India’s freedom struggle.

The result was “RRR,” a three-hour, visual-effects spectacle that was released this spring and instantly broke records at the Indian box office. In the film’s climax, a muscle-bound protagonist retrieves a bow from a shrine to the Hindu god Ram and cuts down hapless British soldiers with a hail of arrows. Then he arms Indian villagers with guns to fight their colonial oppressors before launching into a lavish song-and-dance number that eulogizes a list of real-life revolutionaries from Indian history.

Absent from the names? Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian pacifist who has been celebrated by many — including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — as an inspiration and an icon of nonviolent resistance.

But not by Prasad.

“The time has come to let Indians know the truth, the real warriors who should be honored,” Prasad said recently in his office in Hyderabad, a hub of the fast-growing south Indian film industry. “The real reason why we got independence was not because of Mr. Gandhi. That’s the fact.”

As India celebrates 75 years of independence on Monday, the legacy of the “father of the nation” who advocated nonviolence and secularism is being debated, downplayed and derided as never before. Instead, Indians are embracing a pantheon of other 20th century heroes, particularly leaders who favored armed struggle or overtly championed Hindus, in a reflection of the nation’s mood and its shifting politics.

Today, at rallies of Hindu nationalist hard-liners, Gandhi is routinely vilified as feeble in his tactics against the British and overly conciliatory to India’s Muslims, who broke off and formed their own state, Pakistan, on Aug. 14, 1947. On social media and online forums, exaggerations and falsehoods abound about Gandhi’s alleged betrayal of Hindus. And in popular films and the political mainstream, Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru — the first prime minister — are sidelined, while nationalists who advocated the force of arms have been elevated.

India is fundamentally rethinking whether Gandhi could have delivered freedom out of colonialism without the specter of bloodshed — which so clearly contributed to the British loss of appetite for empire — and whether his ideals should be the country’s bedrock principles.

“The current government has been trying to project itself as a government that is macho, defiant, strong, and won’t take nonsense from anybody,” said Tushar A. Gandhi, an author and the independence leader’s great-grandson. “There is an ongoing campaign to eradicate Gandhi from the psyche of the Indian people, or at least reduce his qualities to the point it is trivial and meaningless.”

Personifying the cultural shift is Narendra Modi, the popular prime minister who is portrayed by his allies as a living counterpoint to Gandhi and Nehru: tough on Islamic separatists, steeped in Hindu nationalism, formidable on the world stage and — if his campaign speeches are to be taken literally — physically imposing, with a 56-inch chest.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 6, 2023 at 8:14am

Fareed Zakaria: Gandhi Seen As An Enemy of Hindus in Modi's India

https://transcripts.cnn.com/show/fzgps/date/2023-02-05/segment/01

https://youtu.be/TLh7lUqoy9M

As the historian Ram Guha writes in the FT that contentious attitude is born of the fact that the religious harmony that Gandhi preached is anathema to hardcore elements of the Hindu rite which seek to make India into a Hindu state.

Though Gandhi was himself an upper caste Hindu he celebrated the diversity of India both its many languages and its many faiths. But the nation's current leaders sometime seem to believe that Hindus deserve and ought to see supremacy in a land in which they are the overwhelming majority. Take one example of the antipathy of the ruling political class toward the icon. Gandhi's killer, Nathuram Godse, has become for many a national hero.

Numerous BJP lawmakers have publicly praised Godse, the party brass usually distance themselves from such comments. What the BJP has done is popularize competing figures in India's independent struggle. People who frontally challenge Gandhi's message. That includes men like Veer Savarkar, known as the father of Hindu nationalism.

As Guha notes he was a man who hated Gandhi and Muslims. He was also the ideological inspiration for Godse, Gandhi's killer. A previous BJP led government hung a portrait of Savarkar in the parliament building. Modi has bowed before it, saluting Savarkar for his undying love for India.

This moment represents a sea change for Indian politics which for most of its independent history has been heavily influenced by Gandhi and his ideas. But a militant Hindu rite has popularized a muscular nationalism that looks down on Gandhi's insistence on nonviolence. They also hold him responsible for the partition of India and Pakistan, and accused him of being too willing to appease Muslims.

Disinformation about Gandhi as an enemy of Indian Hindus circulates freely online. Posts accuse him of having urged Hindu women to cooperate with Muslim rapists, completely false of course. Others suggest bizarrely that he was secretly working for the British. And while the 1982 loving biopic "Gandhi" made by Britain incidentally was an international hit today Indian film-goers favor a more aggressive protagonist.

Take last year's blockbuster "RRR," one of India's highest grossing films ever. It's an action packed buddy movie about two freedom fighters who take on the British in 1920s India. As the "Washington Post" notes the closing song and dance number involves our protagonist singing about India's national heroes. Behind them the faces of real life freedom fighters appear. Missing from the montage is the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi.

Unless you think that is a mere oversight the screenwriter, Vijayendra Prasad, who developed the story for the film told the "Post," "The time has come to let Indians know the truth, the real warriors who should be honored, the real reason why we got independence was not because of Mr. Gandhi. That's the fact."

Now, I'm all for subjecting hero worship to rigorous scrutiny and many worthy historians have taken a very critical eye to Gandhi in recent years. All the same we ought not to forget that Gandhi was genuinely a world historical figure. One who pioneered a strategy of nonviolence and transformed India's struggle for independence into a grassroots based mass movement that inspired people everywhere outside of India, from Martin Luther King and Muhammad Ali to Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama. This is a man who took on the greatest empire in the world nonviolently and defeated it.

In a country riven with divisions, he built a coalition that included and honored everyone. He was uncompromising about the need to reform inequities such as India's caste system, renaming the lowest caste often called untouchables as children of God. He was passionate about bridging the Hindu-Muslim divide. In fact he gave his life for it.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 9, 2023 at 7:57pm

Narendra Modi is struggling to be both anti-Muslim strongman and global leader
Mukul Kesavan
The Indian prime minister’s attempts to suppress a critical BBC documentary show how sensitive he is to his international reputation

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/feb/08/narendra-modi...

he clue to the Indian government’s thin-skinned response to the BBC’s two-part documentary, India: The Modi Question, is in the name. The documentary lays out the evidence for the argument that the anti-Muslim bigotry that characterises India today is rooted in Narendra Modi’s alleged decision to rein in the police in Gujarat in 2002, giving anti-Muslim rioters a free hand, leading to the killing of hundreds of people.

The first part explores the 2002 pogrom as the ideological foundation of Modi’s power and political persona. The second part surveys the actions of Modi’s government after his re-election in 2019, and tries to show how both formal policy and informal violence have been deployed by the state to reduce Muslims to second-class citizens. It was the documentary’s unequivocal framing of India’s recent history as “Modi v India’s Muslims” that has infuriated Modi’s government.

Paradoxically, this is a characterisation that Modi and his allies have often embraced for domestic political advantage. Modi’s image as a Hindu strongman who had the nerve to put a malcontented minority in its place has helped him win two terms in office and remake the republic in his majoritarian image. Why then did the central government issue directions for blocking multiple YouTube videos and Twitter posts sharing links to the documentary? Why did it play whack-a-mole online and resort to desperate measures such as seizing laptops on university campuses where students were planning to screen the film?

One reason for this reaction was that the film was produced by the BBC. Post-colonial states will grudgingly acknowledge the credibility of the BBC even as they accuse it of condescension or, in the words of the Indian government’s spokesperson, “a colonial mindset”. This credibility is based on the BBC’s institutional memory, its ability to reach into its archive and produce evidence for its narratives.

In the first part, for example, we were shown a BBC reporter, a young woman called Jill McGivering, reporting on the riots and interviewing Modi in the aftermath. The Modi on show here is not the groomed and costumed persona that Indians have become accustomed to since he became prime minister in 2014. This is a rough-and-ready Modi, willing to be caught on camera laughing and taunting a young female reporter, and doing his best to intimidate her. McGivering reappears in the documentary, 20 years older, reflecting on Modi’s charisma and menace. This persona plays well with his base, but it isn’t how this famously image-conscious, multiply-made-over politician wants to be remembered.


Even less welcome is the documentary footage of the anguish of Muslim men and women who have been attacked, bereaved or imprisoned. The men who defend Modi in this documentary emphasise time and again the courts and tribunals that have cleared him of criminal conspiracy. They speak of the need for closure, the importance of moving on. But the testimony of Zakia Jafri, Mariam Ansari, Kismatun, Safoora Zargar and many others, backed up by video clips of Muslims being subjected to horrific violence, bring back ghosts that makes “closure” impossible.

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