India’s Supreme Court will investigate alleged provocative statements by Hindu religious leaders in December 2021.
In a closed-door meeting in Haridwar, religious leaders dressed in saffron called on Hindus to arm themselves for “genocide” against Muslims, according to a police complaint.
The Supreme Court sent an opinion to the government of Uttarakhand explaining why those accused of calling for genocide had not been arrested.
Increase in attacks against minorities
The court will open its investigation next week.
Uttarakhand police said they were questioning suspects, but no arrests have been made so far.
Video clips of the meeting were widely shared on social media and news channels.
Former military leaders, civil society leaders and activists, including tennis legend Martina Navratilova, criticized the event.
The state of Uttarakhand is ruled by the right-wing Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
There has been an upsurge in attacks on Muslims and other minorities since the BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi won the elections in 2014 and then a landslide re-election in 2019.
The attacks on minorities and the lack of immediate and severe sanctions emboldened Hindu extremists, with many seeing tacit support from the administration and government.
Community speeches and actions tear the country apart and many have the impression that the Prime Minister’s silence is deafening.
In Gurugram, a satellite town neighboring the nation’s capital, right-wing Hindus have repeatedly prevented Muslims from praying in public spaces.
On several occasions, Muslims have faced threats and fanatic slogans while praying.
ML Khattar, the chief minister of Haryana, which is led by the BJP, announced that Muslims should not perform Friday prayers in open spaces.
The statement is seen as support for the right wing that has emboldened them across the state.
Police arrested a Hindu religious leader last month for allegedly giving a derogatory speech against India’s independence leader Mohandas Gandhi and praised his killer.
In December, several Christmas celebrations in more than half a dozen states across the country were disrupted by right-wing Hindu activists.
Accusations of stirring up community hatred
In Ambala, a statue of Christ was demolished and the Church of the Holy Redeemer was vandalized.
In the northern city of Agra, famous for the Taj Mahal, the effigy of Santa Claus was burned on Christmas Eve.
Activists claimed that Santa Claus was part of a strategy by Christian missionaries to convert people.
Several missionary schools have been attacked in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka – states both ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Five states are due to hold elections in the coming months and community polarization will increase slightly, particularly in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Opposition parties have accused Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who is a Hindu monk, of stoking community hatred.
In a conclave televised by the national broadcaster, Yogi Adityanath said: “It will be 80% against 20% in the UP polls and the BJP will retain power.
The opposition accused the chief minister of referring to Muslims who make up 20% of the state’s population and of playing dog-whistle politics.
According to the Economic Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, India fell from 27th position in 2014 to 53rd in 2020 due to “democratic retreat”.
He classified India as an “imperfect democracy”.