In India, hate speeches have become commonplace

The words freeze the blood. They were uttered by religious, Hindu extremists, during an event organized between December 17 and 19 in the holy city of Haridwar, in the state of Uttarakhand, some 200 kilometers north of New Delhi. In front of crowds entirely committed to their cause, they took an oath to make India, a secular and multi-faith country, a Hindu nation – even if it meant eliminating tens of millions of Indian Muslims (15% of the billion Indians) .

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A few days later, a call for genocide against Muslims made the rounds on social networks. “If there are a hundred of us willing to kill two million of them, then we will be victorious and make India a Hindu nation”, launches a woman, identified in one of the videos as Pooja Shakun Pandey, of the Hindu Mahasabha, an ultranationalist group. In this clip, she also calls to pray for Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi, father of the nation, who advocated harmony between religions.

Despite the seriousness of the threats, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, from the ranks of the Hindu nationalists of the Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People’s Party, BJP), remained silent. “These ideas are very old, but they are now expressed with complete impunity, without any member of the party in power condemning them and with the tacit support of the government”, underlines Gilles Verniers, professor of political science at the private university of Ashoka, in the suburbs of New Delhi.

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Feeling of impunity

These hate speeches come as several key regional elections are due to take place in early 2022. This is the case in Uttarakhand, where this event took place, but also in Uttar Pradesh, where Narendra Modi is actively campaigning for the leader of outgoing government, the fanatic monk Yogi Adityanath, also regularly singled out for his remarks against the Muslim minority which represents some 200 million people in this state.

“In every election, the BJP thinks it can only win by polarizing society, and the Prime Minister’s speeches are just a more sophisticated version of the crass calls to hatred uttered by Haridwar clerics,” observes Dhirendra K. Jha, author of several books on Hindu extremist groups. This specialist has as proof the speech of Narendra Modi in Varanasi (Benares), Uttar Pradesh, on December 13, in which he conspired with the Muslim emperor Aurangzeb, who reigned from 1658 to 1707. “Here, if an Aurangzeb arrives, then a Shivaji rises”, he had launched, in reference to this Hindu military leader, founder and leader of the Marathi Empire (1630-1680).

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In India, hate speeches have become commonplace