Hijab Ban, Violence, Release of Rape Convicts: Major 2022 Events That Affected Muslims in India

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Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – Muslims in India have been undergoing a critically adverse situation since 2014 when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power at the Centre under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The community has been facing hate speeches, mob violence, economic boycotts, discrimination, malicious campaigns, biased media trials and discriminatory laws during the last 8 years. The year 2022 witnessed all these types of incidents at different points in time.

The year 2021 culminated with major anti-Muslim events that continued in 2022. In December 2021, a Dharam Sansad (a gathering of Hindu seers) was held in Uttarakhand’s Haridwar where controversial Hindu priests including Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati incited violence and made genocide calls against Muslims. After the public outrage and Supreme Court’s intervention, the BJP government in the state was forced to file a case and arrested him along with another accused, Jitendra Tyagi. Both are now out on bail.  

The year 2022 started with a hate campaign through the Bulli Bai app. On 1 January, hundreds of Muslim women were put out on online auction when their pictures were uploaded on social media outlets through the Bulli Bai app. Earlier, a similar sinister act was done through the Sulli Deal apps. After the Bulli Bai attempt, the police arrested four accused who were influenced by Hindutva ideology. Two of the accused are out on bail.

In January itself, a major issue of hijab ban in Karnataka schools and colleges came to light. Muslim girls wearing Hijab were barred from entering classrooms in some colleges in Karnataka’s Udupi district after campaigns by Hindutva groups. Schools and colleges in other parts of the state also joined in banning the hijab. Muslim girls were hounded for wearing hijab and in one such incident Muskan Khan was harassed by a Hindutva mob inside her college. The issue caught international attention and it went to court. Karnataka High Court upheld the hijab ban in schools and colleges. Many women were forced to remove their hijab before entering the campus. The ban was challenged in the Supreme Court where a bench of two judges gave a split verdict. However, the BJP government in Karnataka continued with the ban on hijab in schools and colleges.

In March, a controversial movie named The Kashmir Files on the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits was released. The movie caused hate speeches and mob attacks on innocent Muslims. The movie has faced severe criticism. The International Film Festival of India (IFFI) jury head described the movie as “vulgar” and “propaganda”.

In April, various states including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and others witnessed massive anti-Muslim violence during festivals. Mosques, Muslim houses, shops and vehicles were set on fire. Two people died and many others were injured. Following the violence, the state government in Madhya Pradesh demolished houses mostly belonging to Muslims. The victims as well as some groups moved the courts to challenge the demolitions.

In May, derogatory remarks made by two BJP leaders, Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal, against Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) caused major international outrage. Around 16 countries issued statements condemning the outrageous remarks. Following the global outrage, the BJP suspended Sharma and expelled Jindal and claimed that the party respects all religions.

In May itself, the wuzu khana (place to make ablution) of the Gyanvapi mosque located in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi was sealed by the authorities after Hindu petitioners claimed that they had found ‘Shivling’ during a survey conducted after the court order.  

In August, the Gujarat government released 11 men convicted of gang rape and murder in the case related to Bilkis Bano. A BJP MLA, who was part of the committee formed to release them, called these rape and murder convicts “sansakari”. Some people including Bilkis Bano challenged the remission decision in the Supreme Court. The court has yet to decide on the issue. 

In October, BJP MP Pravesh Sing Verma along with other Hindutva leaders called for an economic boycott and violence against Muslims at an event held by Vishwa Hindu Prishad (VHP) in Delhi.

In November, the brutal murder of Sharadha Walker by her live-in partner Aftab Poonawala came to light. Hindutva supporters used the murder to spread hatred against the minority community using the religious identity of Aftab.

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