India’s Pogroms Have Begun

No one would have said that Nazis ‘clashed’ with Jews, but that’s how the pogroms in Delhi are being reported. Hindutva mobs are beating, burning and killing their way through Muslim neighborhoods, as BJP politicians have literally told them to do, as the Delhi police stand by or join in. This is a majoritarian pogrom and nothing else. It is a great shame to India, and a horror to the world.

We’ve had pogroms here, to the south, in Sri Lanka. Muslim homes have been attacked, their businesses burnt, people have been killed. I know what it’s like, and it’s painful to see it in India. Because, like everything else, they do it extra. At least 24 people are dead. Muslims are fleeing. Delhi is burning.

This is a pretty simple case of mob violence with political support. This is almost the 18 year anniversary of the 2002 Gujarat ‘Riots’ which were really a monthslong pogrom against Muslims encouraged by then Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Now his Hindu nationalism is full-grown and the mob violence has come to the nation’s capital.

Modi and his Home Minister Amit Shah passed laws to register citizens, exclude Muslims and have started setting up concentration camps to hold and then deport them. People have peacefully protested these laws, and BJP politicians have responded by saying these traitors should be beaten and killed. And lo and behold, innocent people are being beaten and killed.

What’s most galling, from the outside, is that even the global media is reporting this as riots, or clashes, when it is nothing of the sort. Is it a clash when your fist hits my face, or is it just an assault? When armed mobs roam the streets and police look the other way, when politicians egg them on, is that really a clash? Or is it just the powerful attacking the weak, burning the innocent in their homes?

These are not clashes, and for God’s sakes media, let go of the ‘two sides’ nonsense. This is just a bad government led by a racist party unleashing mob violence on the streets. This is a pogrom. Muslim people are being disenfranchised by law and, at the same time, have all protections of law removed from them. And it’s being done while the US President is visiting, because that’s how little moral leadership is coming from anywhere right now.

After the Gujarat Pogroms Modi was banned from traveling to the US. After the Delhi Pogrom, he’ll probably get a state visit.

Even within India, the media is supine, reporting on what the first family didn’t eat, or some kid dancing at a reception. Meanwhile, Delhi is burning, dozens of people are dead, and people everywhere are afraid.

These are dark times for the world’s largest democracy, and it seems that there’s little we can do. But we can call things by their names. This isn’t a clash between two groups. This is a state-sponsored pogrom against a minority, and it’s happening right now.

Indi Samarajiva is a writer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sign up for my newsletter at www.indi.ca, and you can reach me at indi@indi.ca.

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