Harsh Mander on how India’s leaders have taken it to the edge of the abyss. Harsh Mander is an Indian author, columnist, researcher, teacher, and social activist who started the Karwan-e-Mohabbat campaign in solidarity with the victims of communal or religiously motivated violence. He is the Director of the Centre for Equity Studies, a research organisation based in New Delhi.

There is no crime greater than genocide — the physical destruction of an entire people for little more than their belonging to a national, ethnic, racial or religious groupIn a 2021 message delivered on the international day to commemorate the victims of genocide and affirm their dignity, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned that there are always “clear, multiple warning signs” that precede genocide. They include hate speech, discrimination, and violence.

We know these signs. We have seen them. Scholars have studied them and used them to predict unfathomable massacres.“But are we listening?” asks Harsh Mander in a piece for The Wire India published in February this year. (The full piece, in English, is available on our website and linked below). Two reports have warned that the “clear, multiple warning signs” Guterres warned about are coming into clear focus in India.

Many have already forgotten the pogroms that swept Delhi in 2020. As India’s prime minister Narendra Modi welcomed US president Donald Trump to the country, armed Hindu mobs unleashed a wave of violence against the city’s Muslim population. Dozens were killed. Hundreds were injured. Homes were burned and places of worship ransacked.

Perhaps many more have forgotten the pogroms of 2002. Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat then. Under his watch, some 1,000 people were massacred, most of them Muslim. In 2020, as in 2002, the authorities stood by or protected the mobs as they carried out their murders.

But are we listening?

Organisations within India and outside it have long been raising the alarm. India’s Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens — which effectively impose a burden of proof for Indian citizenship, a burden that falls disproportionately on non-Hindus and the country’s most vulnerable — have been compared to the Nazi Nuremburg laws.

In many states in India, Mander writes, it is a crime for Muslim men to marry Hindu women. Many are imprisoned for trading beef. India’s Muslim communities face “unrelenting hate violence”:

“Brutal lynching by mobs in the name of cow protection have become routine. A child is beaten for drinking water in a temple, a youth for daring to sell bangles to Hindu girls, another for selling meat, but increasingly people are thrashed only for the only crime of being visibly Muslim, or for operating Christian places of worship.”

PROGRESSIVE.INTERNATIONALIs India Lurching Into a Genocide?PI council member Harsh Mander on how India’s leaders have taken it to the very ed

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