The country’s claim to be a secular state is being challenged

The dream of an open and secular India is fast fading with the country’s Hindu majority’s attitude towards religious and ethnic minorities coming into question. Add to that the terse attitude towards neighbouring Pakistan and the picture of Modi’s shining India changes fast. Prime Minister Modi has returned after being feted as the darling of the US’ Silicon Valley, but his India has begun to look more like Gujarat during the time the province erupted in anti Muslim riots under Modi’s chief ministership. The hope that a mature Modi would take the reins of the country was always a forlorn one. The evidence is now there for all to see. In Kashmir, members of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party tried to assault opposition member, Abdul Rashid, in state parliament on Thursday for holding an alleged ‘beef party’. Rashid had served beef kebabs at an event to protest the ban on eating beef in the Muslim majority province. The incident came only a week after a mob in Delhi killed a Muslim man for allegedly eating beef. After a senior minister asked the UN to investigate the poor state of minorities in India, Modi’s vague response was to call for ‘Hindus and Muslim to unite’ for the development of the country. An even more glaringly right wing reaction came in the form of a concert by Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali having to be cancelled in Mumbai after protests by the right wing Shiv Sena party. How does a farmers’ protest result in the decision to stop the train? For one, the protest includes stopping rail services as one of its tactics. On the matter of the cow slaughter controversy Pakistan’s Foreign Office has said that attacks on Muslims over cow slaughter are beyond comprehension; the FO is also reportedly looking into reports that Pakistani passengers were offloaded from the Samjhota Express at Wagah. India’s progressive intellectuals and activists, as well as parts of its entertainment industry have protested this new face of India. The country’s claim to be a secular state is being challenged daily by the Modi government. The real test now is whether any action is taken by Prime Minister Modi against members of his party who attacked the Muslim legislator in Kashmir. Till then, Modi will stand accused of turning a blind eye as secular India is destroyed by religious fanaticism.

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