- If one despaired of humanity in 2002 Delhi, 2020 convinces me that the cherished secular story of India is history.
- Reporters who tried to bear witness - our most basic duty as the free press — were shot at and their trousers pulled down to ensure that they were Hindu. India’s days as a civilised society seem to be a macabre joke.
During the 2002 Gujarat riots, Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, was the chief minister of Gujarat. More than a 1,000 people died, the barbarity of the baying, hate-filled mobs cannot be described as pregnant women were gang-raped, the babies ripped out from their wombs.
Modi did nothing.
He pretended it was business as usual as Gujarat burnt. Now in a chilling redux Delhi burnt for three days. More than 40 people died in the national capital. And on day three, just like in Gujarat, Modi made a tepid appeal for peace on social media.
Before that while Delhi smouldered and communities were torn asunder, Modi was busy posting pretty pictures with United States President Donald Trump on his first state visit to India.
I covered the Gujarat riots. The indelible images from the Delhi riots, a man on all fours, cringing trying to protect his vulnerable head with his arms desperately folded surrounded by men activated with blood lust, armed with sticks; an 84-year-old Muslim woman who had witnessed the Partition of India burnt to death, another pregnant woman who was kicked in the stomach, but managed to deliver a miracle baby are triggering.
Mosques were burnt in Delhi after putting a triumphal flag on the minarets as Delhi police watched as causal bystanders when we lost our essential humanity and turned barbarians.
The Sangh Parivar has a chequered history with mosques — the Babri Masjid was demolished in an early spasm of hate politics.
If one despaired of humanity in 2002 Delhi, 2020 convinces me that the cherished secular story of India is history. Reporters who tried to bear witness — our most basic duty as the free press — were shot at and their trousers pulled down to ensure that they were Hindu.
India’s days as a civilised society seem to be a macabre joke.
Why should we blame Kapil Mishra, a minor turncoat from the Aam Aadmi Party to the BJP, who made the inflammatory speech that provided the spark that set Delhi on fire?
Mishra is just a mercenary trying to attract notice from his bosses Modi and Amit Shah and also stage a comeback after losing miserably in the recent Delhi elections.
Modi and Shah have for the past six years sowed a harvest of hate. The blood on the streets is only the bumper crop.
Shah as the Union Home Minister said in a public speech that the voters of Delhi should press the EVM so hard that the women protestors (largely Muslim) were electrocuted, his ministers wanted protestors shot and when the inevitable violence happened, well they had the cynicism to act surprised.
The Nero of New India
Modi was once called Nero for his inaction in the Gujarat riots by the Supreme Court of India in a better, less compromised time for the final court of appeal in India.
Read more from Swati Chaturvedi
Now Nero has ultimate power and an able deputy, ready to conjure up hate and mob violence at the prospect of any election. The trouble is that you can always dial up violence in India, but it is a genie which refuses to come back obediently to the hate mongers bottle.
The takeaways from the Delhi descent into madness are multiple. Delhi and India might still look the same, but the Hindu Rashtra, the subject of the Sangh’s fervid imagination and machinations, has been birthed.
We still have a Constitution, but we have collectively failed secularism - the partition project of reducing Muslims to second class citizens is done.
A terrified tired citizenry is trying to fight back a people who seem to hate them for merely existing. For the practitioners of hate, Muslim baiting is the new sport. The India I knew and grew up in is gone. I can’t reconcile to this hate-filled new India in the image of Modi and Shah.
Trump in a public interaction called “Modi the father of India”. People laughed and mocked his ignorance, but Trump was prescient - Modi is the father of this hate-filled new India.