The India Chapter


In the same way, the police beating of Rodney King that caused the Los Angeles race riots or the OJ Simpson trial in the 90’s in America divided black and white people, Modi is similar for Muslims and Hindus. It’s a substantial generalisation; not every Hindu supports Modi and not every Muslim hates him, but it could almost be a litmus test. If you wanted to know whether someone is Muslim or Hindu, but felt uncomfortable asking, you could still obtain a reasonable idea by their stance on Modi.

Muslims and Hindus: 4GW

Not the newest, most cutting-edge technology for Wi-Fi connectivity, but an abbreviation for Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW). A fitting description for a conflict characterised by a blurring of the lines between war and politics, and the distinction between soldiers and civilians.

Babur, the Muslim emperor, invaded the Hindu nation of India in the 1500’s from Uzbekistan in Central Asia. Muslims and Hindus have been fighting ever since. There are many parallels with the war between Israel and Palestine. Babur and the consequent Muslim Mughal kings were defeated by the British, who conquered, divided, and gave away land they didn’t own. India gained its independence in 1947, mostly for Hindus, and Pakistan for Muslims.

The Muslim Ottoman Empire which had invaded the Middle East also in the 1500’s was defeated by the British. The British also conquered, divided, and gave away land they didn’t own, and Israel gained its independence in 1948, Israel for Jews and Palestine for Muslims. The consequences of those invasions have resulted in thousands of deaths, multiple wars, and a genocide that continue to this day.

In 1947, India was split in two. Pakistan was founded as a homeland for Muslims. But India, under the leadership of its Cambridge-educated Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, chose not to be equally Hindu. The country had a substantial Muslim population (then around 35 million, now approximately 172 million), and the ideology Nehru bequeathed to the newly independent nation was “secularism.”

“Divisions existed in Indian society before British rule,” says Archana Venkatesh. According to Aatish Taseer, novelist and journalist, author of The Twice-Born: Life and Death on the Ganges, for TIME, “This secularism was more than a separation between religion and state; in India, it means the equal treatment of all religions by the state. Although to many of its critics, that could translate into Orwell’s proverb of some being more equal than others.”

Indian Muslims were allowed to keep Shari’a-based family law, while Hindus were subject to the law of the land. Hindus were bound by reformed family law and often found their places of worship taken over by the Indian state.

The differences exposed what American historian Anne Applebaum described as “Unresolvable divisions between people who had previously not known, that they disagreed with one another.” There had, of course, been political differences before, but what Modi’s election revealed was a cultural chasm. It was no longer about left or right, but something more fundamental.

Hate Crimes against Muslims

These have risen from eight in 2010, to eighteen in 2014, when Modi came to power, to 92 in 2018. Initially, the hate crimes were against Muslims, but there has been increased media scrutiny since crimes against Christians have started and increased. There have been 525 attacks against Christians in India in the first eight months of 2023.

There shouldn’t be any hate crimes against Christians at all. However, when compared to America’s 13,337 hate crimes per year in a population of 300 million to India’s 1.4 billion, India has less work to do than America. But India is not even in the top 10 of hate crimes worldwide. Half of the top 10 are Islamic countries. The severity of the crimes has been far worse in Canada and Australia, where Indian students have been targeted, shot, and killed. In America, nine Indian students were murdered already just this year.

There isn’t a single campaign organised to decrease Muslim violence by non-Muslim organisations, except the UN’s anti-Islamophobia Day, on 15 March, ‘To stamp out anti-Muslim hatred’. The BJP hasn’t been active in promoting the UN initiative in India, but considering the past 10 years, they should spearhead this ingenuity in the future. Considering the almost $4 billion that the BJP has spent on campaigning in the elections, there is no reason they can’t donate $3-4 million a year to promote zero violence against Muslims campaign.

The Modi Question: Have hate crimes against religious minorities increased under Modi?

The Modi Answer: More has to be done about Hindu mobs attacking innocent Muslims over practices such as trading beef, which, although not in line with Hinduism, isn’t illegal by law. Activists feel these Hindus seem to think they are enforcing the highest ideals of Hinduism, when in reality, they are copying the worst parts of radical Islam. This type of morality policing is reminiscent of the Taliban in Afghanistan or murdering girls who aren’t wearing their hijab in Iran. And the question Hindu radicals need to ask themselves is, if they continue, how different are they from those they claim to despise?

Regardless of whether the BJP alliance agrees or disagrees with Indian Muslims, it doesn’t give them the right to attack or make threatening speeches towards them. Protection of certain religious minorities shouldn’t mirror the INC’s policy of different religious codes for marriage, divorce, or inheritance.

There should be one uniform law regarding protection for all religions, which is protection and the freedom to feel safe, for all Indian citizens despite their religion. Hate crimes against Christians and especially Muslims have risen under Modi, and there is no reason that India can’t return to the 2011 and 2012 levels before the BJP was elected when there were two hate crimes in two years. This is a must.

Silence over Muslim Speech – “A Deafening Silence”

Modi’s deafening silence over anti-Muslim violence has emboldened some of his most extreme supporters and enabled more hate speech against Muslims. Muslims feel that they have been discriminated against by right-wing organisations since Modi became PM. Speaking to Sky News, the National spokesperson for the BJP, Nalin Kohli, dismisses the allegations and seems to confirm the policy of the BJP that there has to be consistency, continuity and equality amongst all religions. Muslims are the only religion in India to have their law for marriage, divorce, and inheritance.

Practices such as Muslim instant divorce and the ability of Muslims to have four wives, the only religion in India that can still practice polygamy, are different from every other religion in India that follows Indian law. “In this country, there is no special reassurance for anybody. There’s a reassurance for every citizen that a citizen can be of any religion. Modi’s government works honestly, sincerely, and consistently for every Indian irrespective of region, colour, race, language, or religion. Everyone is equal before the law.”

Modi appointed Yogi Adityanath as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, home to 220 million people. In 2015, Yogi said, “If They Kill Even One Hindu, We Will Kill 100!” And, “If given a chance, we will install Hindu deities in every mosque.” He also once said, “If one Hindu girl marries a Muslim man, then we will take 100 Muslim girls in return… If they [Muslims] kill one Hindu man, then we will kill 100 Muslim men.”

One of the worst examples of inflammatory speech is a monk, who is an outspoken supporter of far-right nationalists, who heads a Hindu monastery, and who called for the “genocide” of India’s Muslims at a meeting of right-wing supporters. Fortunately, he was later arrested and charged by the police. It can only be imagined how terrifying it is for a politician to make a call for genocide against Muslims and the Prime Minister of that country to not immediately respond.

Supporters of Modi have reasoned that members of Muslim associations have remained silent after terrorist attacks in India, especially in 2008, and duplicated their argument that they shouldn’t have to openly say they are against the terror attacks just because they are Muslim. However, when a member of the government promotes hate speech, the leadership at the top do need to take immediate action.

There was understandably and thankfully much-needed media attention after the inflammatory comments. Genocide Watch president Gregory Stanton, who had warned of the Rwandan genocide five years before it happened, said the early warning signs were visible in India and that a genocide could well happen here.

A possible overreaction, bearing in mind Hindus have never instigated a genocide, although they have been victims of two in India. One in Kashmir, against Hindu Brahmins by Muslim separatists, the only genocide in history where the majority of the population underwent ethnic cleansing. And one in Bengal, against Indians of all religions by Winston Churchill.

Sometimes there’s the wonder that when media outside India constantly write headlines such as Modi’s anti-Muslim rhetoric, is it because there is a genuine concern for the welfare of marginalised Muslims or is it just clickbait?

The West, especially the USA and the UK, criticise Modi without realising the blatant hypocrisy, that their crimes against Muslims have been far worse. Just since 2000, America, with support from the UK and various European countries, has illegally invaded two Islamic state countries, Afghanistan and Iraq. As a result, over 1 million innocent Muslims were killed.

The USA still operate Guantanamo, where Muslims suspected of terrorism are held for years without evidence or trial. The UK and USA removed a democratic regime in Iran and installed a dictator, which could have stopped peace in the Middle East.

(Discussed in more detail in my article dated May 1st).

The Modi Question: Has Modi spoken out enough or acted against his party when they have spoken inflammatory anti-Islamic rhetoric or tropes?

The Modi Answer: No. It is disgusting and incredibly worrying that Modi hasn’t spoken out more against his party members who have called for violence against Muslims or taken more action against radical Hindus who have attacked Muslims. It’s a failure and needs to be addressed, and will hopefully be a major point that is resolved if he wins a third term on 4th June.

Modi’s Controversial Election Campaign Speeches

The “Infiltrator” Speech

At his 22nd April 2024 rally, Modi sparked a row over hate speech while campaigning in Rajasthan when he accused Muslims of being “infiltrators.” He also echoed a false conspiracy voiced by some Hindu nationalists that Muslims are displacing the country’s majority Hindu population by deliberately having large families.

That speech stirred widespread anger and calls for election authorities to investigate the comments. BJP spokespeople subsequently said Modi was talking about undocumented migrants. The speech was arguably the most written about aspect of the election. Although it happened three days into the start of the election, it was still written about almost at the end, six weeks later. To a point, this is understandable as any title espousing Muslim hatred would identify as clickbait.

There are warnings that Modi’s brand of Hindu nationalism is uncorking dangerous religious divides in a country with a long and tragic history of sectarian bloodletting. The BJP’s national spokesperson has previously said the party is not prejudiced against Muslims and that democracy is protected under the constitution.

Modi claims that he did not explicitly target Muslims in his speech, but his widely recorded words have been taken that way. However, Modi did not use the word Muslims in his “Infiltrator” speech. If the media has assumed that it relates to Muslims, then who is the racist? Who is stirring more communal violence?

Vote Jihad

In the last week of April, in the western state of Gujarat, Modi said at another rally that: “The opposition is asking Muslims to launch vote jihad. In the past, we heard about ‘love jihad’ and ‘land jihad.’ Be careful about this new jihad. You all know what jihads mean and against whom they are waged.” However, Modi’s Vote Jihad remark was a response to, Maria Alam, a leader of the opposition Samajwadi Party, urged a Muslim gathering in Uttar Pradesh to go for a “Jihad of votes,” to oust the BJP from power. Modi’s vote jihad comment still faced severe criticism.

Population Jihad – “Fears of a Muslim Takeover”

On 21st April, two days after the election started, Modi made a speech in India that was heard around the world. “When they were in power, they said Muslims have the first right over the nation’s wealth. This means they will collect your wealth and distribute it to those who have many children. To the infiltrators.”

Modi’s speech was a response to a Congress leader who had recently suggested inheritance tax customary in America, as a means of wealth re-distribution. As well as the previous prime minister Manmohan Singh, who said “We will have to devise innovative plans to ensure that minorities, particularly the Muslim minority, are empowered to share equitably in the fruits of development. They must have the first claim on resources.”

Below is the transcript as well as the link to the YouTube video of Singh’s full speech. The specific part of the speech on YouTube starts at 0.38m. The transcript of Manmohan Singh’s YouTube Video speech reflects the case and frustration among many Indians that the INC favours Muslims and marginalises other religions, believing the 14% of India’s Muslims are a vote bank.

The full “First claim on resources” speech by previous Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh.

This may question whether India is a secular state, (Explained in more detail, in the next part of this series, “Fear of a Hindu Nation”) as a secular state treats all its citizens equally regardless of religion and avoids preferential treatment for a citizen based on their religious beliefs. As per the Oxford Dictionary definition “The belief that religion should not be involved in the organisation of society, education, etc.”

Modi’s speech reflects a long-standing history of Indian rising population fears and did not start with Modi. In fact, in the 1970’s an aggressive forced sterilisation programme was ordered by then-prime minister Indira Gandhi.

Another stereotype is “Population jihad.” Although “The Muslim minority has grown from 11% in the mid-1980s to 14% today,” statistically, Muslims are having the same number of children as Hindus overall, considering different socio-economic classes. A recommendation for further reading on this area is the incredibly informative article by Archana Venkatesh, a public health historian in India, for “The Conversation”.

Love Jihad – “Seduce Hindu women” 

BJP leaders have accused Muslim men of converting women to Islam through “Love Jihad.” A conspiracy theory where Muslim men “Deceptively seduce women to increase their demographic strength and provide a numerical threat to the Hindu population.” This started due to Islam being the only religion where, in the case of inter-religious marriages, the non-Muslim spouse is required to convert to Islam.

Although only two of the interviewees, claimed knowledge or experience of this. N. Patel, a partner at a top four accountancy firm, claimed (without evidence) that mosques where he lived in Birmingham would hand out leaflets encouraging the practice. Ramesh Bhan, an international media specialist, author, and Kashmiri Hindu, who fled the genocide in Kashmir says he personally experienced the practice when Muslim separatists killed or forcibly removed Hindu Brahmins from their homes, but told them to leave their daughters to convert them.

Except these two cases, it is very difficult to obtain more credible evidence, as although the majority of media outlets reporting on the election refer to speeches about Love Jihad, none seem to provide any evidence as to whether it actually exists or not. A recent film on the subject, “The Kerala Story,” was the second highest-grossing film of 2023, beaten only by Indian megastar actor Shah Rukh Khan’s smash hit film “Pathaan.”

Gujarat: Train station Fire or Terrorist Attack

Muslims and Hindus
The charred remains of the Sabarmati Express where 59 pilgrims died, led to a massacre and polarised Gujarat.

This is Modi’s first controversy and what the main claims of the BBC documentary referred to. It’s what most people who don’t know anything about Modi are still aware of.

An Indian film being released called “The Sabarmati Report,” named after the doomed train, depicts the events that occurred on that fateful day. There is some confusion as to whether the fire should be classed as a hate crime or a terrorist attack, as well as confusion between the two classifications. Findlaw explains, “It may be easy to distinguish between hate crimes and acts of terrorism by looking at who was targeted and why they were targeted. Crimes based on who the victims are, may be hate crimes, while crimes intended to send a message may be acts of terrorism.”

“The Sabarmati Report” is based on the cause of the Gujarat riots. According to the BBC and New York Times, in 2002, The Sabarmati Express, carrying Hindu pilgrims who were seeking to build a temple on the site of a demolished mosque, returning from the northern town of Ayodhya, were attacked by an angry Muslim mob.

The court also ordered the Gujarat state government to pay the families of the Godhra train victims £11,660 as compensation, because it said state and railway authorities had failed to maintain law and order.

The attackers were said to have forced the train to stop and then set fire to one of the carriages. More than a dozen children died.

Riots broke out between Muslims and Hindus in Gujarat, (the Northeast state between Mumbai and Delhi) where Modi was chief minister (USA equivalent of senator). His inaction and hesitancy are claimed to have resulted in hundreds more deaths than necessary. Official figures say approximately 254 Hindus and 790 Muslims died. Unofficial figures say almost 2,000 people perished. Media outside India rarely mention the reason for the riots starting.

France 24 writes that the riots started after a “train station fire,” which is akin to saying that 3,000 people died on 9/11 after two buildings collapsed. Many outside India don’t list the cause or reason for the riots, which is a cause of upset to many Gujaratis who lived in the area at the time. So, this article will not just discuss Modi’s actions or lack of actions, which can be researched, but the root cause of the riots and the consequences which led to Modi being banned from entering various countries.

When US congresswoman Ilhan Omar, speaking at a conference for Muslim relations, discussed the discrimination of Muslims in America after 9/11. She said, “Some people did something and all of us were starting to lose our civil liberties.” There was outrage in the USA, to how she had trivialised America’s worst act of terrorism.

Congresswomen Ilhan Omar’s full “Some people did something” speech referring to the 9/11 terrorists.

After six years of going over the details, the Nanavati-Mehta Commission submitted its preliminary report which concluded that the fire was an act of arson, committed by a mob of one to two thousand locals.

Bloomberg says, In February 2011, “The trial court convicted 31 Muslims of burning the train.” Sixty three others were acquitted based on the murder and conspiracy provisions of the Indian Penal Code, saying the incident was a “Pre-planned conspiracy.” Eleven men were sentenced to death and the other 20 to life in prison. Sixty-two accused were acquitted for lack of evidence.

Messiah or Mass murderer

According to KP, who wanted to stay anonymous for fear of disciplinary action in his role working in the UK on financial crimes for an investment bank, a Gujarati Hindu Brahmin, KP was born and raised in Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat. He was studying for his MBA at Ahmedabad University.

KP empathises, and it’s still a cause of frustration to him that the actual cause of the riots is never reported accurately in most Western media. “Hindus were on a religious pilgrimage, returning from Ayodhya. They spoke about Babri (mosque), saying a temple should be built on it. Muslim militants discovered the train and coach they were travelling in. I don’t know how they know this.

They lock the doors (of the train) and then threw firebombs and such into the carriage. And set on fire. People are trying to get out; the separatists inserted spears, back and forth into the carriage so that even children trying to get out were gutted and stabbed and people trying to stop the spears from stabbing people have their hands sliced.

I never saw this personally or the aftermath. Myself, I just saw photos in the paper. But I know friends of friends who were there and witnessed this. Not the attack, but the burnt-out bodies afterwards being carried away, and it’s something that haunts them, even now.” At this point, KP gulps heavily.

He starts talking, then pauses, his voice breaking, still not fully coming to terms with the horror 22 years ago. “People in Godhra (location of the station) say they won’t forget the screams from the people in that carriage for the rest of their lives.” Regardless of this barbaric act of cruelty, did Hindu Indians have a right to go on a murderous vigilante rampage?

KP becomes heated. “Listen, it is very easy for you to sit here and judge. You are from here. But that was my home. I am highly educated from a very educated Brahmin family. I never joined mobs or attacked Muslims. I know it is wrong. I have Muslim friends and close friends, some are best friends. I don’t blame them, but there was, you know, a shift, like how you say distrust. The 32 Muslims [militants] ran away in 32 different directions and they were hidden by Muslim families [sympathisers]. 

Gujaratis thought they would escape, it took police a long time to get to the station only, to investigate, forget catching them. See, people, feel if they don’t help, they [perpetrators] will flee, go into thin air, then how to catch them. You can’t, no?” “There were rumours that they [separatists] were wearing burqas [unproven] and trying to escape from other train stations. Myself, I don’t know.

However, Hindus, they don’t know which houses the Muslims [militants] are staying in, so, you know, many houses they destroy, nice families, lovely Muslim families, they have nothing to do with this, but they are killed. So bad. See, the police, they don’t want to admit, but they lost control, not incompetent, I would say, but not efficient. They don’t have enough resources and they are having to cover many towns, too quickly. First one town, Godhra, then suddenly over 30 towns, in just some few hours.

Just spreading themselves, trying to cover all the places where they escaped. How will they do?” “The anger just spread like fire, sorry, you know, just exploded, fast Police are being called to one town and then suddenly there are riots in another city, that the police can’t handle. So many people were rioting so quickly. 

See, mobiles started in India just a year ago, so people were sending texts to everyone, which makes the problem even worse.” “See, before, little problems were happening between Hindus and Muslims, they were having quarrels, not like this, like this I haven’t seen. No one has seen.” But surely, there was incompetence from the police and Modi, who was the chief minister.

“The Muslims, [separatists] they go in different directions to different towns, police can’t keep up. Police aren’t like in the UK, they aren’t so good, not so organised, you can’t expect to be like it is here. Modi and the police, make mistakes, too many, but first, they worry about losing their jobs, so maybe keep quiet. But cops, I feel they messed up too.”

However, after 9/11, or the July 2005 terrorist attacks, Americans or Britons, regardless of the heightened tensions, didn’t take to the streets and start attacking and killing innocent Muslim families.
“What to do, it’s easy to say now. But people went mad after they heard about the terrorist attack and what they did to the Hindus [pilgrims]. I love Gujarat, it never has happened again. It will not happen again. But, yes, they shouldn’t have attacked innocent people. Now that is what most Westerners know about Gujarat. It is so sad.”

Undoubtedly, there was inefficiency, mismanagement, and various mistakes, incompetence. Modi was heavily criticised in India and abroad for his handling of the terrorist attack and the subsequent riots.

Critics say that Modi hesitated in allowing police to act, with accounts claiming that he purposely allowed the riots to continue. Due to the accusations, Modi was investigated by the Supreme Court of India. He was eventually pronounced innocent of all charges. Media in and outside India have argued that this was due to his political power and the credibility, or lack thereof, of the Indian Supreme Court.

The Indian Supreme Court is ranked by UOLLB as the third most powerful national supreme court. Whilst Nomad Capitalist states, “The nation with the strongest Supreme Court is India. The Indian Supreme Court can nullify most of the laws and orders given by the other branches of government.”

The BBC, in their 2023 documentary titled India: The Modi Question, accused Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being “directly responsible for the 2002 massacre of Muslims” and seems to have ignored the Supreme Court ruling.

The Modi Question: Is Modi responsible for the deaths of 790 Muslims?

The Modi Answer:

Modi was cleared by an investigation ordered by the Indian Supreme Court, although India’s Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that Modi should face a criminal trial in Gujarat, the case was not continued. Modi was interviewed in 2022 by the Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team (SIT), which found no evidence of wrongdoing.

Even though the Indian Supreme Court is ranked much higher than the UK Supreme Court, the BBC seems to infer it has better-informed legal knowledge than arguably the strongest Supreme Court in the world. A possible superiority complex and a side effect of the hangover from post-colonial rule.

Most sections of the media pronounced Modi guilty before being charged or still declared him guilty after Modi was found innocent. Modi was exonerated of all charges.
Modi was only allowed entry to countries outside India once he became Prime Minister and joined the political mainstream, despite the Supreme Court ruling, which indicates a misplaced distrust of the Indian Supreme Court or a superiority complex by countries outside India.

The irony is that the vicious Hindu mobs that attacked innocent Muslim families made the police deal with these attacks, wasting their time and not spending resources on capturing the terrorists. A bloodcurdling lesson in ensuring that the focus after a terror attack or hate crime is on the actual perpetrators and not on innocent people who had nothing to do with it.

Many Indians argue that due to the riots happening a few months after Modi was elected, Modi didn’t possess enough experience to handle a full-scale state riot. The ineptitude of Modi and the state during the infancy of the terrorist attack and subsequent mishandling of the riots will be mired in shame and the horrific, mindless, and utterly unnecessary murders of innocent Muslims and Hindu families. This is something Modi himself, despite his innocent conviction and exoneration, will not be able to wash clean from his immaculately pressed and spotless clothes and will leave an indelible, bloody stain on the history of Gujarat, in one of India’s bloodiest episodes.

But regardless of the hundreds of differing opinions and viewpoints, this question has been answered by India’s highest court. The Supreme Court of India ruled, Modi was not responsible and is not guilty of mass murder. But regarding the riots, the people’s court may believe he is guilty of mass incompetence.