Preparation for Genocide? Modi Steps Up his Violence in Assam
CJ Werleman fears that the recent violence in India’s eastern state, combined with the construction of ‘transit camps’ for Muslims, is a further step in ethnic cleansing by India’s leadership
From the moment Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept to power in 2014 on the back of a muscular and threatening Hindu nationalist agenda, human rights activists have been sounding the alarm bell for imminent Muslim genocide in India and Kashmir.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) he leads, and the Hindutva movement that carries his ideological DNA, has made no secret of its intent to eradicate and annihilate the country’s 200 million Muslims.
“We will remove every single infiltrator from the country, except Buddha, Hindus and Sikhs,” said then BJP president and current Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah during a political campaign rally in West Bengal in 2019.
BJP has worked hard to fulfil its promise to remove these so-called “infiltrators,” a catch-all term ascribed to both Muslim citizens and undocumented Muslim migrants alike, bypassing discriminatory laws, denying legitimate claims to citizenship, harassing Muslim journalists and human rights activists, and inciting communal violence, including 2020’s Delhi Riots, which led to the deaths of 52 Muslims.
For these reasons, Dr Gregory Stanton, founder-president of Genocide Watch, a non-governmental organization dedicated to predicting, preventing and halting genocide around the world, warned last year the “preparation for a genocide is definitely underway in India”.
“The persecution of Muslims in Assam and Kashmir is the stage just before a genocide. The next stage is extermination – that’s what we call a genocide,” he said.
Last week, footage shared on social media by activists in Assam provided the international with community shocking images which seem to echo Dr Stanton’s warning.
In one video, heavily armed police can be seen moving towards a group of men who were protesting Government forced evictions in Assam’s Darrang district on Thursday, when suddenly a man appears running with a stick towards the police officers, who shoot him dead, despite posing no real threat to their safety.
Moments later, a cameraman, who had been accompanying the police officers, is seen running towards the deceased Muslim man, and then jumping on his lifeless body, repeatedly, in what can only be described as an act of white-hot, genocidal hatred.
If the desecration of a Muslim’s body doesn’t say something about the way in which the Hindutva ideology has radicalized all levels of Indian society, then I’m not sure what does.
Another heartbreaking video taken that same day shows a dozen or so Muslim worshipers performing morning prayers in the rubble of their mosque, which had been destroyed days earlier by Indian security forces, along with 800 homes in the village of Sipajhar, rendering more than 1,300 homeless.
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This violence did not emerge spontaneously, but as part of a half-decade long effort by the Hindutva led Indian Government to mobilize political support among the country’s Hindu majority by stigmatizing Muslims, particularly those in Assam, where Muslims were excluded from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in 2019.
Muslims in Assam, and all along the eastern and southern border, are targeted because they are disruptive to the decades-long Hindu nationalist project, which is why they are branded and dehumanised as “Bengalis,” “infiltrators” and “pests” by Government officials and Hindutva hate preachers, alike.
“If one looks at the map of non-BJP states in the Indian Union, it is the south and the east that form a continuous belt that prevents the spilling over of the Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan ideology into the holy waters of the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean,” observes Garga Chatterjee, a Kolkata-based political commentator.
“This continuity is not incidental. This is the zone of politics of federalism. This is the zone whose absence would have created a Hindu Rashtra called Hindustan with Hindi as its national language in 1947. This is the zone whose presence created the flawed but still nominally federal democratic entity called the Indian Union as it exists”.
The Modi Government’s effort to ethnically cleanse this region has come in fits and starts, as illustrated in the construction of a network of concentration camps to house upwards of millions of Muslim detainees, which were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court two years later.
Nevertheless, thousands remain languishing inside a half-dozen of what the Government now dub “transit camps”.
Harsh Mander, director of the Centre for Equity Studies, is one of the very few non-Government officials who has had access to Assam’s Muslim detention facilities. He found them to be as “close to hell as possible,” describing them “worse than a jail”.
In style and substance, the Indian Government’s crackdown on Muslims along the Indian-Bangladeshi border echoes of the genocide that befell Rohingya Muslims along the Bangladeshi-Myanmar border, with both minority populations derided as “Bengalis” and “infiltrators,” as security forces carry out periodic raids on their villages and homes, while their governments pass laws to make life for them as grim as humanly possible.
It’s been two years since Dr Stanton warned the “preparation for genocide is underway in India,” and given “preparation” is the seventh stage of his widely revered “10 Stages of Genocide,” it’s reasonable to conclude, based on unfolding events in Assam, the Government has since advanced to stage eight – “Persecution” – where “murders, theft of property and trial massacres” begin.
The next stage after that is “Extermination”.
In other words, the system is blinking red.