Aisling Lynch Kelly
Last August, there were two anniversaries in India. The 5th of August marked three years since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government abrogated Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, removing special autonomous status granted to the Jammu and Kashmir state. On the 15th of August, 75th anniversary of Indian independence was celebrated across the country.
Both these events led many to reflect on the nation India has become, particularly how far the current BJP administration has strayed from the Nehruvian values of secularism, enshrined in a constitution written by Dalit leader Dr. BR Ambedkar.
The release of Bilkis Bano’s perpetrators — gang raped by 11 Hindu extremists during the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 — on the 75th anniversary of Indian Independence not only shocked the nation but also demonstrates the disregard the BJP Union government has for the fundamental rights of religious minorities, and the impunity granted to those who commit atrocities against Muslims and Christians.
The spread of extremist Hindu supremacist ideology (Hindutva) throughout the country has facilitated India’s states, the Union government, and the judiciary to introduce and uphold anti-Muslim and anti-Christian legislations. Multiple states, including Rajasthan, are still waiting for Presidential approval to enact anti-lynching bills into law. And whilst they wait, another individual was lynched in August.
Equally, Karnataka has become the 10th state to introduce an anti-conversion Law. This kind of legislation has facilitated Hindutva militias, including the Bajrang Dal, to commit atrocities against religious minorities in the country, as they reaffirm the belief that religious minorities present a threat to the majority Hindu population.