South Asia Research and Analysis Studies

Shiv Sena-Modi blacken India’s face
Muhammad Jamil

DURING the last one-week,despicable events have taken place in India in quick succession, which have brought shame and ignominy to India that claims as a secular state and biggest democracy of the world. A politician and social activist Sudheendra Kulkarni, whose face was smeared by black paint by Shiv Sena activists for going ahead with the book launch of former Pakistan minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, said: “Shiv Sena has not blackened his face but India’s face”. Many people blame Shiv Sena for the vile acts, but in fact it is being done according to a well thought out plan under the watch of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and it is not only Shiv Sena but Narendra Modi has also his share of bringing ignominy to India. Shiv Sena is an Indian far-right regional political party founded on June 19, 1966 by political cartoonist Bal Thackeray, which has a sizeable representation in Maharashtar Assembly since 1998. Its ideology is based on Marathi nationalism and Hindu nationalism (Hindutva).

It is currently headed by Thackeray’s son, Uddhav Thackeray. It has been a coalition partner in the National Democratic Alliance since 1998, including the Vajpayee Government during 1998–2004, and at the present with Narendra Modi Government. It has the reputation of an extremist, chauvinist, as well as a fascist party, and is considered by many as a terror group. It is blamed for among other vile acts the 1970 communal violence in Bhiwandi, 1984 Bhiwandi riots, and violence in the 1992-1993 Bombay riots. Shiv Sena activists have gone berserk and are responsible for violence on minorities. They are trying to exacerbate tension between Pakistan and India, and do not spare Pakistani sportsmen, singers and artists. On Sunday, they stormed BCCI office where PCB Chairman Shahryar Khan was to hold meeting with Indian Board of Cricket Control (BCCI). Luckily, Shahryar Khan was at that time in his hotel.
An official of BCCI said: “This was totally uncalled for; we wanted to sit down and discuss the future of cricket between both countries. Yes, we were aware that there was some unrest going on in the city, but attacking a meeting such as ours is unacceptable.” Earlier, the group also used threats to force the cancellation of an appearance in Mumbai by legendry Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali. Pakistani actors Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan have received threats to leave the country. As if all that was not enough, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced on Monday that it has withdrawn Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar from the one-day games in India over security fears after the Shiv Sena attack. At a press conference in Dubai, ICC Chief Executive David Richardson expressed disappointment over the attack on the BCCI office, yet it had buckled under Shiv Sena’s pressure.
It would be appropriate to shed some light on Pakistan’s incorrigible optimists or apologists who still believe what is happening in India is the handiwork of a small number of Hindu extremists and fanatics. There will be many an apologist in Pakistan who suggest Pakistan should not react adversely to the insults heaped on Pakistan. Such apologists are everywhere – in the political class, in the civil society, in the media and in the intelligentsia. They would gloss over the recent events with their spurious reasoning that there are extremists and anti-India elements in Pakistan also. They still hold the view that majority of Indians want to have good relations with Pakistan; therefore efforts should be made to improve relations between Pakistan and India, no matter what Narendra Modi thinks about Pakistan and Muslims.
Fact of the matter is that public goodwill in India for Pakistan is just a fiction that is chanted liltingly in Indo-Pakistan seminars held in the five star hotels, public halls, political offices, media compounds and official corridors. This must be clear in the first sight to any honest observer of the India scene. So far as India media is concerned, it always advances its government’s version. However, it is first time in the history of India, that some conscionable writers, novelists and poets feel that the Modi government is a stigma on the face of India. At least 41 novelists, essayists, playwrights and poets of India returned the awards they received from India’s prestigious literary academy in protest at rising Hindu extremism under Modi rule. They believe that rising Hindu extremism is a threat to regional peace.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) itself came to power primarily because of its anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim posture. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself is a proven Hindu extremist and does not let any opportunity go waste to express his contempt for Pakistan and Muslims. Discrimination at state level against minorities, especially Muslims, has increased manifold under Modi’s rule. A number of states have banned cow slaughter while several people have been attacked and lynched on allegations of slaughtering cows. A Kashmiri lawmaker Engineer Rashid’s face was smeared with the black ink when he was addressing a press conference in press club New Delhi accompanied by the family members of the two people who were recently lynched in Udhampur over cow slaughter. He said: “People talk of Talibanisation of Pakistan, look what is happening in India... They are mentally ill. 80,000 people have died in Kashmir, putting ink on me will not change anything.”
The nation suffers hundreds to thousands of deaths per year at the hands of terrorist and militant groups. Those aware of India’s internal conflicts mostly know of religious violence between the nation’s Hindu majority and sizeable Muslim minority, international jihadi attacks, uprisings in Kashmir, or guerrilla strikes by the long active communist Naxalite rebels operating in 13 of India’s 28 states. Some may know about separatist movements amongst Punjabi Sikhs, too. Nowadays, Sikhs are staging protest throughout India against desecration of their holy book. Some of the oldest and most numerous militant uprisings in India relate to its indigenous populations, especially those in Assam, Tripura, Nagaland, Naxalite and Mizoram. Uprising in Occupied Kashmir is a different issue, as Kashmiris are fighting for their right to self-determination bestowed on them by the United Nations Security Council resolutions.