Persecution of religious minorities in Modi’s India


The worldwide Sikh community is in anger and unrest ever since the recent desecration of Sikhs’ Holy Book Sri Guru Granth Sahib was discovered in the village of Bargari, near Kot Kapura in Faridkot district in Punjab, India. Subsequently, the Sikh community aired their concern and worry about their everyday persecution in protests, but the situation even worsened as police rather than guarding the protests opened fire and killed two protesters and left dozens of other left injured.

This tragic most recent incident is yet another episode of endless catalogue of Sikh persecution who feel alienated, disillusioned and abandoned in their own country. The police brutality, which included the use of water canons and even fire arms against the protesters, resurrected the memories of the 1984 Sikh genocide in the Golden Temple. Some members of the Sikh community believe state behavior has not changed in more than three decades. India, being one of the largest democracy in the world has failed to honour its international obligations to which it is the signatory countries where its own citizens are targeted by its own police.

Right to protest and peaceful assembly is the basic fundamental rights of every democratic country in the world. It is enshrined in the Article 20 of United Nations Declaration of Human Rights as well as in Article 21 in the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The signatory state is obliged by the UN treaties to honour its obligations towards its own citizens. The Indian government instead of looking into the case of the desecration of Sikh’s holy book rather targeted the protestors and ordered its policeto disperse the crowds through water cannons and batons. The misdirected state action lead to the killing of two Sikh members and left many injured.

This rigid, cold and indifferent state behavior is not alien to Sikh community. The police brutality of Sikh massacre which killed more than 3,000 sikhs in the Gold Temple still fresh in the members of Sikhs around the world. Some resonated their fear and concerns to this day as evidenced in the most recent police brutality.

Since the leader of the right-wing Indian People’s Party (BJP), Nerandera Modi came to power, the plight of minorities has worsened and calls for ‘Hindu India’ begin to grip minorities who have suffered persecutory events in the past. The Gujarat 2002 Massacre of Muslims, when Modi was the Chief Minister in the Gujarat State, and the 2008 persecution of Christians in Orissa are few to mention. The most recent state led oppresions include a ban on beef for Muslims and state violence against the Sikh.

While the Indian government claims the recent desecration of Sri Guru Grath Sahib has ‘clear and concrete evidence’ of foreign funding does not justify the questions of the state violence, while multiple arrests have been made in connection with the alleged desecration will the attempts suffice the institutionalised persecution minorities suffer in India?

Bio Shahid Khan

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