By M Ghazali Khan
Peace-loving individuals, activists and politicians from all shades have condemned recent Hindu-Muslim violence in Leicester and Birmingham.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan appealed to Hindus and Muslims of the city ‘not to allow the politics of the sub-continent to spill over’ into the UK. ‘We should be eternally on our guard against extremist forces who seek to stoke up tensions between our communities for their own selfish ends. Everyone in the UK and around the world should have the right to live in peace and to practice their religion without fear or threats,’ Mr Khan said.
On 20 September, community leaders and local politicians gathered outside Leicester’s Jame Mosque and issued a joint statement appealing to end ‘provocation and violence’ immediately.
The joint statement read out at the steps of the city’s Jame Mosque by Pradyumna Pradipgajjar, President of the city’s Iskcon Hindu temple, said: ‘We, the family of Leicester, stand in front of you not only as Hindus and Muslims but as brothers and sisters. Our two faiths have lived harmoniously in this wonderful city for over half a century.
‘We arrived in this city together. We faced the same challenges together; we fought off racist haters together and collectively made this city a beacon of diversity and community cohesion.’ It appealed for ‘immediate cessation of provocation and violence – both in thought and behaviour. We together call upon the inciters of hatred to leave our city alone.’
South Asia Solidarity Group (SASG) organised a demonstration outside the High Commission of India (HCI) against Hindutva.
A press release issued by the SASG supported the stand taken by the faith groups in Leicester and said: ‘We echo the sentiments in the recent joint statement of Hindu and Muslim faith leaders in Leicester’. Its leader, veteran human rights activist and writer Amrit Wilson said: ‘We are here today because we want to show that we are united, and we want peace. We do not want the BJP and the RSS and all their followers, together with the white fascists who have come to divide our community.’
While several peace-loving residents of Leicester and UK are aghast at what happened in this multicultural, multiracial and, until recently, an example of social cohesion, HCI, following the instructions of the Hindutva government in Delhi, issued a highly partisan statement displaying lack of diplomacy, perhaps unprecedented in India’s diplomatic history.
‘We strongly condemn the violence perpetrated against the Indian Community in Leicester and vandalisation of premisses and symbols of Hindu religion. We have strongly taken up this matter with the UK authorities and have sought immediate action against those involved in these attacks.’ HCI’s statement issued on 19 September 2022 read.
Ironically India vehemently rejects even the mildest concern expressed from the platform of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on BJP government’s Islamophobic policies, calling it an interference in India’s internal affairs.
The umbrella body of British Muslims, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) came heavily on HCI‘. In a letter, dated 20 September 2022, and addressed to Indian High Commissioner Mr Vikram K. Doraiswami, MCB’s Secretary General Zara Mohammad reminded him that: ‘Leicester is home to a thriving and integrated Indian diaspora of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, who have been living together in harmony for over half a century.’
Deploring the Leicester violence, Zara Mohammad said: ‘The question we must ask ourselves, is: what has turned this vibrant community, once a model of unity, into one that is deeply divided, where ordinary people are fearful for their own safety?’
She went on: ‘Whilst it is right that we condemn the desecration of Hindu symbols, you must represent all Indians and also condemn the deliberate targeting, intimidation and instances of assault of Muslims and Sikhs by large groups of thugs chanting far-right Hindutva slogans, mirroring tactics used by the RSS against communities in India.’
In a separate statement, MCB called ‘upon all communities to exercise restraint and for local leaders, including the police and politicians, to listen to the concerns of locals objectively.’
Contrary to media reports that Leicester violence erupted following a Cricket match between India and Pakistan, locals say that sectarian tension had been building up for quite some time. Many blame it on the new arrivals in the city of Indians, who are alleged to have brought with them the Hindutva ideology of hate. The Independent quoted Professor Neil Chakraborti, director of the Centre for Hate Studies at Leicester University, as: ‘There is no doubt in my mind that the religious tensions in India, and the actions of a hardline, violent, nationalist government there, have had a direct influence on what we have seen. Without the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) in power in India – without their demonisation of minority groups – it is difficult to imagine the same tensions here.’
The blame may or may not be accurate and needs to be investigated. However, that fact cannot be denied that, over the years, British politicians, Conservatives, and Labour have been courting Hindutva politicians.
The latest example of this courtship was witnessed during Boris Johnson’s visit to India in April this year when he posed on a JBC bulldozer. He and his advisors ignored, very insensitively, the brazenly anti-Muslim political environment in his host country where the monster machine had been used to demolish Muslims’ properties and businesses in the capital itself and had become a symbol of Hindutva aggression against Muslims.
Bulldozing Muslims’ properties and using bulldozers as a symbol of power is a new lesson the Hindutva regime in Delhi has learned from its Zionist friends. The internationalisation of Hindutva and the display of bulldozer as Hindutva power was shown by American Hindutva diaspora during India’s 75th Independence Day celebration, 15 August, when they marched in New Jersey with a bulldozer with large portraits on it of Narendra Modi and the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Aditya Nath, who used this newly found power first and is adoringly called by his supporters as the ‘Bulldozer Baba’.
Some politicians in the UK have opportunistically, greedily, or, perhaps, because of their hidden Islamophobia, have been encouraging and pampering Hindutva elements.
The latest example of opportunism, coupled with anti-Muslim hatred, is of Rishi Sunak. Although he was doing pretty well during the race for Prime Ministership, he suddenly jumped on the bandwagon when he felt a bit shaky about his success. He tried to ignite an unnecessary debate that was not the issue in the country at that particular time: ‘Islamic extremism.’ Perhaps fearing that his white party colleagues may not prefer him over Liz Truss, he reminded the country by saying that Islamic extremism was ‘by far and away the single largest terror threat to the UK’s national security.’
This spurt of nationalistic feelings was aimed at pleasing the white constituency. In order to please his Hindutva clientele, he went to worship a cow — a typical political symbol of Hindutva because of which several Muslims have been lynched in India— and released photographs of it on social media. Although he is not known to be a religious person, even if he wanted to invoke spiritual blessings for his success, a silent visit to a temple would have been more appropriate and no one could have objected to it.
Rishi Sunak is not alone. Former Home Secretary and brazenly Zionist supporter Priti Patel openly support the fascist ideology of Rashtriya Sevak Sangh (RSS). In September 2014 she praised and commended the leaders of RSS’ UK branch, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (UK)—HSS—for ‘hosting’ an event titled, ‘RSS: A Vision in Action—a new Dawn’.
RSS is a fascist organisation that believes in the supremacy of high caste Hindus in India. The kind of India this group aspires to was well defined by its founder Dr Mahadev Sadashiv Golwalkar. He wrote:
“the foreign races … must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture i.e. of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment – not even citizens’ rights. There is, at least should be, no other course for them to adopt. We are an old nation; let us deal, as old nations ought to and do deal, with the foreign races, which have chosen to live in our country.’
‘German race pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races – Jews. Race Pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well near impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan [India] to learn and profit by.’ (We; or, Our Nationhood Defined, Nagpur 1939)
In her letter to the HSS, Ms Patel also paid profuse tribute to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the man responsible for the massacre of 2000 people, mostly Muslims, in Gujarat during his chief ministership in 2002. To refresh faint memories and give an idea of Narendra Modi’s role in the Gujarat Genocide 2002, BBC said that it had ‘hallmarks of ethnic cleansing and that reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims is impossible while the chief minister remains in power.’
BBC’s story further said, ‘… leaked report is the result of an investigation into the Gujarat violence by British officials in India.’ It also noted that the ‘violence, far from being spontaneous, was planned, possibly months in advance, carried out by an extremist Hindu organisation with the support of the state government.’
The Chief Minister of Gujarat at the time of these pogroms was none other than the ‘Angel of Peace’ who was recently reported by the world media as preaching peace to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. On a lighter note, it reminded me of the late Khushwant Singh, who once said politicians preaching honesty looked like prostitutes sermonising ordinary women on chastity.
As for the Hindutva groups in the west, a report published in 2019 in Outlook said, “While this professionally successful Hindu diaspora has been extremely protective and highly combative about its own rights as a minority group in the west, at the same time it has been actively supporting majoritarian Hindu chauvinism in home country India. …”
It’s not only the Conservative Party that has been in love with the Hindutva. The Labour Party has its own share in encouraging Hindutva extremism in the UK. On 12-13 January 2008, Labour MP Barry Gardiner published on the front page of his personal website (www.berrygardiner.com) a testimonial from Modi along with his photograph that read, ‘Gujarat has no greater friend in Britain than Barry Gardiner.’
Supported by these opportunists, Hindutva supporters have been inviting hate mongers, including Sadhvi Rithambara , to the UK for many years and Muslims’ requests to refuse entry to her went unheeded. Inviting and allowing her to go around making speeches was no different from an ISIS leader being invited and honoured in the UK.
Before arriving in the UK, Sadhvi was supposed to attend a fundraising programme in New Jersey that was cancelled following anti-Hindutva organisations in the US. Perhaps her programmes were cancelled due to this for the first time in the UK as well.
Following Leicester, Birmingham too witnessed some ugly and highly deplorable scenes when a group of protesters gathered outside the Durga Bhawan Mandir that had sent an invitation to a Hindutva leader, Sadhvi Rithambhara, named by the Government of India’s appointed inquiry Commission, the Liberhan Commission, as an accused in the demolition, on 6 December 1992, of the 16th century Babri Mosque in Ayodhya.
However, since the Durga Bhawan Mandir in Birmingham had cancelled her programme and admitted that it was an innocent mistake, there was no justification for a protest and despicable scenes created in front of the temple.
Violence and intolerance MUST be condemned regardless of whosoever go on that path. Those who incite violence, spread false information on the internet and create hatred among human beings must remember that by resorting to these immoral activities, they violate clear Qur’anic injunctions and will be answerable on the day of judgment:
Believers, when an ungodly person brings to you a piece of news, carefully ascertain its truth, lest you should hurt a people unwittingly and thereafter repent at what you did.’ (Qur’an, 49:6)
‘Do not confound Truth by overlaying it with falsehood, nor knowingly conceal the Truth.’ (Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqarah 2:42)
‘Believers! Be upholders of justice, and bearers of witness to truth for the sake of Allah, even though it may either be against yourselves or against your parents and kinsmen, or the rich or the poor: for Allah is more concerned with their well-being than you are. Do not, then, follow your own desires lest you keep away from justice. If you twist or turn away from (the truth), know that Allah is well aware of all that you do.’ (Qur’an, Surah An-Nisa 4:135)