Samjhauta Acquittals: Modi's India is Protecting Hindutva Terrorists

An Indian court has recently acquitted all accused in Samjhauta Express terrorist attack of February 2007 that claimed 68 lives, including lives of 43 Pakistan citizens, 10 Indian citizens and 15 unidentified people. This latest verdict came after the acquittal of these and other accused who had confessed to a series of bomb attacks on Muslim targets including Mecca Masjid, Malegaon and Ajmer sufi shrine. These attacks claimed many innocent Muslim lives. The latest acquittals are a continuation of prior shameful judgements by Indian judges in Afzal Guru death sentence and Babri Masjid cases. These trends pose a serious existential threat to India's rule-of-law, democracy and economy.

Swami Aseemanand

Samjhauta Express Attack:

Immediately after the Samjhota Express attack in 2007, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as well as some Indian media organizations blamed Pakistan for the attack.  Later, an investigation by India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) concluded that the attack was carried out by four men - Swami Aseemanand, Kamal Chauhan, Rajinder Chaudhary and Lokesh Sharma - linked to the Hindu far-right group Abhinav Bharat which has close ties to Narendra Modi's Hindu Nationalist BJP party.

In 160 page verdict, Special NIA court judge Jagdeep Singh said that the “best evidence” was “withheld” by the prosecution and was not brought on record.  He said some of the cited independent witnesses were never examined or sought to be declared hostile for cross-examination when they chose not to support the prosecution case. With ‘anguish", the judge said that a ‘dastardly act’ has gone unpunished for lack of evidence.

In his order, the judge further said: “There are gaping holes in the prosecution evidence and an act of terrorism has remained unsolved. Terrorism has no religion because no religion in the world preaches violence. A Court of Law is not supposed to proceed on popular or predominant public perception or the political discourse of the day and ultimately it has to appreciate the evidence on record and arrive at final conclusion on the basis of relevant statutory provisions and settled law applicable thereto.”

Afzal Guru Execution:

Mohammad Afzal Guru was a Kashmiri who was convicted for his alleged role in the 2001 Indian Parliament attack. He was sentenced to death in a controversial judgment and executed on February 9, 2013.

In upholding the death sentence, the Indian supreme court acknowledged that the evidence against Guru was circumstantial: "As is the case with most conspiracies, there is and could be no evidence amounting to criminal conspiracy." But then, it went on to say: "The incident, which resulted in heavy casualties, had shaken the entire nation, and the collective conscience of society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender." This shameful Indian Supreme Court verdict to approve Guru's execution is a great miscarriage of justice with few precedents in legal annals.

Babri Masjid Case:

In a majority verdict in 2010, India's Allahabad High Court judges gave control of the main disputed section, where Babri mosque was torn down in 1992, to Hindus.

This verdict set a dangerous precedent, raising alarms about hundreds of other mosques in India which are claimed as ancient temple sites by the violent Sangh Parivar. L.K. Advani and other major Hindutva leaders, including then Gujarat Chief Minister and now India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, welcomed it and vowed to build "Ram Temple" on two-thirds of the disputed land awarded by an extremely unwise and politically motivated decision of the Allahabad Court.

In his Ayodhya opinion, Justice S.U. Khan, the only Muslim judge in the three-judge panel of the Allahabad High Court, made a reference to the Treaty of Hudaibiya as follows: "When prophet Mohammad entered into a treaty with the rival group at Hudayliyah(sic), it appeared to be abject surrender even to his staunch supporters."

This quote from Justice Khan shows how defeated and marginalized even the very few well-educated and well-placed Indian Muslims feel at this point....something reflected throughout his verdict. He basically threw in the towel and gave in to the likes of Justice DM Sharma, the most unabashed pro-Hindutva judge on the panel who "established that the property in suit is the site of Janm Bhumi of Ram Chandra Ji" in his opinion.

This is the evidence of absolute Hindutva fascist dominance of India's "secular democracy" on the streets and in the courts of India.  It has dramatically increased social hostilities against Indian minorities, according to a Pew Survey.  It does not augur well for either democracy or secularism in India.

Social Hostility Against Minorities in South Asia. Source: Bloomberg

India's Justice System:

The recent court judgements raise the following question posed by India's Economic Times editors:  "If a judge feels that the prosecution is waffling on purpose, why should he or she deliver a verdict? Why should the legal system not allow the judge to express dissatisfaction with the conduct of the prosecution and seek correctives before proceeding to conclude the hearing?"

Independent justice system is essential for Indian democracy which is facing an existential threat from Prime Minister Narendra's government pushing Hinduization of the country.  It is also bad for India's economy as top economists have been warning New Delhi against rising intolerance, bigotry and violence in the country.

Prime Minister Modi's Re-Election:

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a second term as Prime Minister pf India in this year's general election. Some believe that his divisive policies and hateful rhetoric against Pakistan and Indian Muslims are designed to solidify the support of his Hindu Nationalist base. Will he succeed? And if he does, how will it impact India's future? Ashok Swain, professor of peace and conflict research at Uppsala University, Sweden has argued in a recent op ed that "India might not survive another five years of Modi". Here's an excerpt of what he wrote:

"India, a country of huge size and immense diversity, needs a functioning secular democratic structure to survive itself. The South Asian giant becoming a religious authoritarian state is not only a threat to its 172 million Muslims but also to the country’s unity and integrity. Indian polity can possibly be ripe enough to go through a peaceful secular democratic revolution in a period of five to ten years to overthrow an authoritarian leader, but the real risk is that a violent civil war might precede the popular revolution, and that India as a country most likely can’t afford".


An Indian court has recently acquitted all accused in Samjhauta Express terrorist attack of February 2007 that claimed 68 lives, mainly Muslims including lives of 43 Pakistan citizens, 10 Indian citizens and 15 unidentified people. This latest verdict came after the acquittal of these and other accused who had confessed to a series of bomb attacks on Muslim targets including Mecca Masjid, Malegaon and Ajmer sufi shrine. These attacks claimed many innocent Muslim lives. These latest acquittals are a continuation of prior shameful judgements by Indian judges in Afzal Guru death sentence and Babri Masjid cases. These trends pose a serious existential threat to India's rule-of-law, democracy and economy.

Why have the world leaders warmly welcomed India's Modi back after shunning him for years for his role in Gujarat 2002 Massacre of Muslims? Celebrated Indian writer and rights activist Arundhati Roy explains to Mehdi Hasan of Aljazeera

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Comment by Riaz Haq on March 31, 2019 at 8:05pm

#India #Beef #lynching case accused seen sitting in front row, chanting Yogi Yogi in #BJP's Bisada rally. #Modi #Hindutva via @indiatoday

One of the accused in the Mohammed Akhlaq lynching case was seen in a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rally in Bisada village in Uttar Pradesh's Greater Noida. The rally was addressed by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

The accused, Vishal Singh, was sitting in the front row and cheering the Uttar Pradesh chief minister along with his friends. A report said that 16 accused in the Akhlaq lynching case were seen attending the rally which was held today (March 31). India Today couldn't confirm it.

On September 28, 2015, 51-year-old Mohammed Akhlaq was dragged from his house and killed by a 200-strong mob on suspicion of eating beef, triggering communal tension in the Uttar Pradesh's Bisada village.

Akhlaq died before he could be taken to a hospital. His son was seriously injured in the incident.

The announcement that the family was consuming beef was made from the local temple. The chargesheet mentions that Vishal Singh as one of the prime accused who had made the announcement.

Vishal Singh, son local BJP leader Sanjay Rana, had then said that he was being falsely implicated in the case.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi took a jibe at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for allowing a lynching accused in Yogi Adityanath's rally.

Taking to Twitter, he said, "BJP's rally organizers have previously prevented people from attending rallies if they were wearing black; but a man accused of such a heinous crime gets first-row tickets BJP has never missed a chance to show that they'll side with lynchers over their victims."

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 31, 2019 at 8:06pm

When They Want #War, #India and #Pakistan Will Always Have #Kashmir. This year, it was Pakistan, rather than India, that came out looking like the adult on this occasion. #Balakot #PulwamaAttack

The essentially violent nature of Hindu nationalism, or Hindutva, has now been laid bare by events. Countless Kashmiris in other parts of India spent most of late February avoiding lynch mobs—many of them helped by activists like Shehla Rashid, who you will hear from later in this series. Many gruesome scenes that recalled the 2002 Gujarat riots, which left countless people, mostly Muslims, dead.

The Indian media, up to and including ostensibly liberal journalists like Barkha Dutt, devolved in the wake of the Pulwama attack into an unthinking, bloodthirsty rabble. Bollywood actors, who have only ever played at war, became all-too-willing mongers for it.

Hindutva Twitter—which has long made MAGA Twitter look quaint—seethed with denunciations of “traitors” and “Pakapologists” and writhed with demands for ever greater violence. The extent to which Modi’s anti-Muslim rhetoric has entered the Indian mainstream—its bloodstream—seemed scarily absolute.


On February 14, an Indian-born Kashmiri named Adil Ahmad Dar drove 300 kilograms of explosives into a convoy of Indian military vehicles in Pulwama, a district of Indian-administered Kashmir. In addition to himself, Dar killed 40 Indian soldiers, rendering the attack the deadliest in decades. A Pakistan-based militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed, claimed responsibility for his actions, and the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was quick to allege Pakistani involvement. Pakistan denied the charge.

A quickly escalating game of tit-for-tat followed. Indian jets crossed the infamous Line of Control and, according to official statements, bombed a terrorist training camp on Pakistani soil. Pakistan denied this, too, saying the planes hadn’t destroyed much of anything and certainly hadn’t killed any terrorists.

Meanwhile, Pakistan sent its own planes across the LoC in response. For the first time since the 1971 war that led to the creation of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan engaged in dogfights over Kashmir. When an Indian plane was shot down on the Pakistani side of the LoC, its pilot, Abhinandan Varthaman, was captured. He was returned to India on the first day of March in a move that Pakistan described as a “gesture of peace.” The stand-off has largely been limited to cross-border shooting and shelling since. A number of Kashmiris on both sides of the LoC have been killed.

Bill Clinton once described Kashmir as “the most dangerous place in the world.” Christopher Hitchens once described the LoC—from a vantage point on the Pakistani side—as “the near-certain flash point of a coming war that could well become an Asian Armageddon.”

For the moment, that war appears to have been averted. Cross-border shelling is business as usual in this part of the world.

But Hitchens would have been surprised to learn that it was Pakistan, rather than India, that came out looking like the adult on this occasion. Then again, Hitchens, who wrote his dispatch in 2007, had long been convinced that the U.S. alliance with Pakistan was a form of geopolitical self-harm, and Hitchens died before Modi came to power in India in 2014. He did not foresee the rise of an Islamophobic nationalist government in Delhi and couldn’t have guessed at the manner in which that government would wind up radicalizing a whole generation of Indian Kashmiris through its militarization of the region and the brutality it would inflict on its citizens there. 

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 1, 2019 at 9:45am

"Prof Keshram Shastri was the 96-year old chairman of Gujarat branch of the World Hindu Council ... admitted he had organized the drawing up of a list of Muslim shops for looting in the city of Ahmedabad immediately after the Godhra incident." - The Dark Side of Democracy, 2005.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 3, 2019 at 6:22pm

#Muslims Live in Fear in #Modi's #India. Millions of Muslims are living fear in Modi's India. Indian Muslims are trying to hide their Muslim identity in public for fear of #Hindutva #violence against them. #Islamophobia via @YouTube

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 4, 2019 at 7:45pm

Hindu Nationalism is not a religion. It has little to do with Hindu religion. 

Hindu Nationalism movement was started as an extreme nationalist paramilitary organization along the lines of Mussolini's Fascist movement by BS Moonje after he visited Italy and met Mussolini. 
In fact, a unique camaraderie that continues to plague the Indian political scene is that between B S Moonje (the first president of the Hindu Mahasabha and early associate of and mentor to K B Hedgewar, first sarsanghachaalak of the RSS) and Benito Mussolini. Instead of visiting the architectural and artistic marvels in Rome, Moonje chose to visit fascist military academies and have a meeting with the dictator. In the happy chat between the two, as noted in Moonje’s diary, he congratulates Mussolini on the fascist youth and military organisations that he had constituted, adding that India needed similar organisations. He proceeds to note that the RSS, formed by Hedgewar, is one such organisation. He returned to India and immediately set to work giving statements on how useful a militarisation of Hindu society on the lines of fascist youth organisations in Germany and Italy would be in the Indian subcontinent.

In the early 1930s, the discussion around such Hindu militarisation found a prominent place in the Marathi press, and Hedgewar, who formed the RSS in 1925, chaired a conference on Italian Fascism and Mussolini in 1934, where Moonje gave the concluding speech. There were other secondary paramilitary organisations with links to the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha — such as the Swastik League, headed by M L Jayakar, a prominent member of the latter — which drew inspiration from Italian fascism. In We or Our Nationhood Defined (1939), M S Golwalkar (who succeeded Hedgewar as sarsanghachaalak in 1940) expresses admiration for the Nazis for their policy on Jews, and says that this was a model that India could profit from.

To cite another example, in a chapter on “internal threats” to the nation in Bunch of Thoughts, Golwalkar says that the three internal “threats” more dangerous than any external ones were Muslims, Christians, and communists. It is, therefore, no surprise that the sangh parivar consistently stayed away from all the movements that form India’s anti-colonial struggle. The Hindu Mahasabha boycotted the Quit India movement, and Hedgewar said to RSS workers that they could participate in their individual capacity only, and that the RSS as an organisation would stay strictly away from the most vibrant of struggles for Independence. When the Indian National Congress passed the resolution to celebrate January 26 as a day of independence after resolving to fight for Purna Swaraj by hoisting the tricolour with the charkha in 1929, the RSS celebrated the day only once in 1930 by hoisting the saffron RSS flag instead.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 4, 2019 at 10:23pm

#HinduNationalist RSS co-founder Ganesh Savarkar tried to kill prominent #Indian #Muslim leader AbulKalam Azad. Plot was discovered by spies of the #British colonial government and their reports about are now part of #Delhi Police Archives. via @scroll_in

Last Sunday, an armed procession celebrating the Hindu festival of Ram Navami destroyed a statue of the freedom fighter Maulana Abul Kalam Azad in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district. Nearly nine decades earlier, Azad was one of a clutch of Muslim leaders the police suspected may have been targetted for assassination by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s co-founder Ganesh Damodar Savarkar.

But Ganesh Savarkar, the older brother of Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Savarkar, failed to execute his plot. It is not clear why.

The plot was discovered by spies of the British colonial government and their reports about it are now part of the Delhi Police Archives. The first report was filed from the office of Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Branch, Calcutta, on September 13, 1929, and was addressed to Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Branch, Bombay. It stated:

“I have just received reliable information that Ganesh Savarkar is implicated in a plot to murder some prominent Muhammadan leader either at Delhi or Bombay in retaliation for the assassinations of the Hindu leaders Sradhanand and Rajpal by Muhammadan fanatics. I am sorry that we have no further information about the proposed plot.”

Ganesh Savarkar had visited Calcutta to procure arms and “the sample of Bengal bomb” from “a prominent revolutionary”, the report added, but “to the best of our knowledge no revolver or explosives were made over to Savarkar by this group”.

Four days later, Additional Superintendent of Police, Criminal Investigation Department, Delhi, received a report from the Intelligence Bureau’s headquarters in Shimla. Referring to the September 13 report, it stated, naming several prominent leaders of the Indian National Congress, “It is possible that SH Damodar Savarkar’s intended victim may be Muhd. Ali, Dr. Ansari, Abul Kalam Azad and Mufti Kifayatullah, but perhaps you are in the best position to know which particular Muhammedan leader has come in for odium for his extreme separatist pro-Muhammedan or anti-Hindu activities in Delhi.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 10, 2019 at 9:32am

Speaking out may put us at risk, not speaking out will kill the soul: Anand Patwardhan on his latest film “Vivek”. Assassinations, cow-related, #Lynching #Hindu #terrorism and atrocities on #Muslims, #Dalits. #Modi #India #BJP via @thecaravanindia

As India heads to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, it finds itself at a crossroads. Over the last five years, the idea of India as a secular and pluralistic democracy has been aggressively challenged by an authoritarian government led by Narendra Modi, and backed by the Sangh Parivar, which wields the sword of militant Hindu nationalism.

With growth stagnating and unemployment at a four-decade high, it is now becoming clear that the Modi government has failed to deliver on its promise of economic development. But whether this will weaken the majoritarian groundswell, currently buoying the Bharatiya Janata Party, remains to be seen. On the evidence of the activist-filmmaker Anand Patwardhan’s latest documentary, Vivek, or Reason in English, it seems unlikely that even an electoral defeat for the BJP will halt the march of Hindutva.

Nearly half-a-decade in the making, Vivek plays out over eight chapters that document Hindutva’s ascendancy in recent times through the trail of blood that it has left in its wake. The film covers the murders of rationalists such as Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, the connection of these crimes to the militant-Hindu outfit Sanatan Sanstha, the violent attacks on Muslims and Dalits in the name of cow protection, the caste-based discrimination that led to the suicide of the young student leader and scholar Rohith Vemula, and numerous other outbursts of violence, large and small, connecting them to present an overview of the turmoil that India is currently witnessing.

As it traces the scars that this violence has left on India’s collective consciousness, the film reveals a citizenry and a state so deeply penetrated by Hindutva and Hindu nationalism that it is difficult to imagine its ideology being dislodged by a mere election. In late March, I spoke to Patwardhan about the film and its themes. “I am hoping that if you have even a modicum of humanity, it will move you,” Patwardhan said. “Not because the film is great, but because what it describes is both real and tragic.”


Patwardhan: Vivek traces the communal divide of today back to the “divide and rule” policy of British colonialists. After independence, imperial British power was replaced by another superpower, the United States, which created Islamic jihad in our bordering states in order to fight Soviet influence in Afghanistan. While the film just skims the surface of this, India and Pakistan, Hindus and Muslims are really playing out an agenda set elsewhere. That is not to say we are not responsible for what is happening today, so the main focus of the film is on the rise of fascism in India and its ongoing battle with humanists and rationalists.

The actual line is, “Brahminism today is draped in the national flag, its storm troopers drawn from amongst those it has dumbed down and made jobless.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 22, 2019 at 10:01am

#SriLanka #Muslim leaders had warned #SriLankan government about activities of radical group #India based National Thowheed Jamath (#NTJ) alleged to have carried out #EasterAttackLK. #SriLankaTerrorAttack #ColomboTerrorAttack

For members of Sri Lanka’s Muslim community, it’s no surprise that local jihadist group National Thowheed Jamath is being blamed for deadly bombings that killed nearly 300 people on Easter Sunday.

Hilmy Ahamed, vice president of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, said he warned military intelligence officials about the group and its leaders about three years ago. On Monday afternoon, Sri Lanka’s government said National Thowheed Jamath was responsible for six suicide bombings at Christian churches and luxury hotels.

“Targeting the non-Muslim community is something they encourage -- they say you have to kill them in the name of religion,” Ahamed said in a phone interview from Colombo on Monday. “I personally have gone and handed over all the documents three years ago, giving names and details of all these people. They have sat on it. That’s the tragedy.”

The National Thowheed Jamath has broken up into various groups as individual leaders pursued separate funding sources, Ahamed said. Although not all members of the group were radicalized, the group is "extremist in their thinking," he added.

Sri Lanka Says Local Jihadist Group Behind Easter Sunday Blasts

As Sri Lanka continues to treat the wounded, questions are being raised -- including by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe -- about why Sri Lanka didn’t act more promptly on warnings ahead of the Easter attacks. The government is now investigating possible links to international terrorist organizations as well.

Sri Lanka’s Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne on Monday called on the inspector general of police to resign.

"The intelligence services had done the work, but it was not acted on at higher levels," he told reporters in Colombo.

Harin Fernando, a cabinet minister, circulated an internal security memo dated earlier this month that warned the group was "getting ready for suicide attacks on popular Catholic churches and the Indian High Commission." It also said the group’s members were "inciting hatred" among online followers.

“Serious action need to be taken as to why this warning was ignored,” Fernando said.

National police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera did not respond to several phone calls on Monday.

Civil War
Sri Lanka only recently recovered from a brutal 26-year civil war between the predominately Buddhist Sinhalese majority and mostly Hindu Tamil minority. The long-running conflict killed more than 100,000 people before former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa launched a final assault on the group in 2009.

Since the war ended, Buddhist extremists have occasionally led attacks against Muslims in Sri Lanka. The most recent flare up was in March 2018 in Kandy and was widely viewed as fueled by Facebook posts that urged deadly violence against Muslims.

One possibility is that Sri Lanka’s authorities, long used to dealing with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam separatists, did not take seriously the idea that an Islamic extremist group was capable of coordinating such a well-planned and deadly attack, said Sameer Patil, director of the Centre for International Security at Mumbai’s Gateway House think-tank.

"Even though their activity was picked up and the community reported this, the Sri Lankan security agencies still go on their long experience with the bloody insurgency," Patil said. "Their mindset is still attuned to any future terrorist attack coming from Tamil Tiger extremists."

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 23, 2019 at 10:16am

Cow urine cured my breast cancer: Sadhvi Pragya. #Modi's #BJP candidate accused to #terrorism against #Muslims enumerated the various health benefits of the cow and cow products. #India #HinduTerror via @indiatoday

Sadhvi Pragya said rubbing a cow from back to neck can help maintain BP
She said she is living example of effectiveness of drinking cow urine
She filed her nomination papers from Bhopal on Monday
"A mixture of gau mutr (cow urine) and other cow products cured my cancer," said BJP candidate from Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency Sadhvi Pragya. She was speaking to India Today TV as she filed her nomination from the seat in Madhya Pradesh.

When asked about the current politics around cows in India, she said it was painful to see how cows are treated in many places. "Godhan amrit hai (owning cattle is like consuming divine nectar)," she told India Today TV.

Sadhvi Pragya also enumerated the various health benefits of the cow and cow products. The biggest health benefit according to her is that consuming cow urine helped her cure her cancer. The BJP candidate from Bhopal, who is also an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case, is a breast cancer survivor. "I was a patient of cancer and I cured myself by consuming gau mutr (cow urine) and panchgavya mixed ayurvedic herbs," she said.

Panchagavya is a mixture used in traditional Hindu rituals that is prepared by mixing five cow products. The three direct constituents of the mixture are cow dung, urine, and milk; the two derived products are curd and ghee. These are mixed in proper ratio and then allowed to ferment.

Sadhvi Pragya called the cure scientific, saying, "I am a living example of its effectiveness."

She also claimed that rubbing a cow in a certain way can help one control their blood pressure. "If you rub gau mata from the back towards the neck she will be pleased. If you do it every day, your BP will stay in control," she said as she fed cows in a cattle shelter.

Explaining the cure in detail, Sadhvi Pragya said, "If you rub the cow from back to the neck, you will experience joy and the cow will also experience joy but if you rub her from neck to back the animal will feel uneasy. If you rub from back to front, your BP will be maintained. This is Amrit (divine nectar). This is scientific. A gaushala (cow shelter) is the best place for Tapasya (penance)."

Sadhvi Pragya filed her nomination papers for the Lok Sabha election from Bhopal on Monday amid chanting of mantras. The BJP candidate, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, currently out on bail, filed her nomination based on what she claimed was an "auspicious time" after arriving at the collectorate here with 11 priests who chanted mantras.

The 48-year-old right-wing activist said she would file her papers "formally" on Tuesday.

She said she chose the time to file her nomination on Monday based on "choghadiya", a Hindu Vedic calendar.

Sadhvi Pragya, making her electoral debut, is pitted against senior Congress leader and former chief minister Digvijay Singh. Bhopal, a BJP bastion since 1989, will vote on May 12.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 9, 2019 at 5:35pm

Mystery of #India's 'missing' #Muslim politicians: #BJP has just 7 Muslim candidates among 437 seats it is contesting. In 2014, It had fielded the same 7 candidates in 2014 but none won. #Congress is fielding 32 Muslims among its 432 candidates. #Hindu

The governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded just seven Muslim candidates in the ongoing general election - it's contesting 437 seats in the 545-member lower house of parliament. It had fielded the same seven candidates in 2014 too, but none of them won. It was the first time in India's history that the government had no Muslim members of parliament.

In the 2014 election, Congress contested 464 seats but fielded just 31 Muslim candidates - of those, only seven won. Much hasn't changed in this election - only 32 of the party's 423 candidates are Muslim.

The Congress' decision not to field Mr Ahmad - a senior party spokesperson - was surprising. He is no ordinary candidate. He had served as the party's general secretary and as a junior minister when Congress was in power; his father and grandfather were both Congress leaders and lawmakers in Bihar's state assembly.

"Shakeel Ahmad, who has been such a big Congress leader, has to beg for his own seat. He is being brave now but he should have left long ago. Only Muslims can make Congress win," said Maulana Anisur Rahman Quasmi, secretary of Imarat Shariah, a socio-religious Islamic organisation in Bihar. "This is a conspiracy against us. You [Congress] tell Muslims to vote for you but you don't give them tickets."

Congress has long pitched itself as a secular party that represents the interests of minorities - and is therefore distinct from the Hindu nationalist BJP. But this courtship of Muslim voters has not translated into tickets for Muslim candidates. Of the more than 120 candidates contesting in Bihar, only eight are Muslims.

Last month, senior Muslim Congress leaders in Delhi - Shoaib Iqbal, Martin Ahmed, Hasan Ahmed and Asif Mohd Khan - warned party president Rahul Gandhi in a letter that people resented the fact that no Muslim candidates were contesting in Delhi. They urged him to allocate at least one seat to a Muslim.

"Keeping in view the number of Muslim votes, the contribution and track record of winning elections by Muslim leaders, one ticket must be given to a Muslim leader either from Chandni Chowk or North-East Delhi parliamentary seat," the letter said.

But Mr Gandhi ignored their plea. The party's list of candidates in Delhi does not include any Muslims.

Congress has defended its ticket allocations - the party's national media coordinator, Sanjeev Singh, told the BBC, "We have done what we could and given tickets wherever it was possible to give. In fact we have given [one] more ticket than we did in the 2014 election. But we are also constrained by coalition politics."


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