Dinesh Bharti drives round with different activists on Fridays heckling and harassing Muslims praying exterior in Gurgaon, the newest flashpoint of sectarian tensions below India’s Hindu nationalist authorities.
Muslims praying within the open “create issues within the nation and all the world,” the thickset Hindu man in his 40s stated, a crimson tilak on his brow marking him out as a religious member of India’s majority faith.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election in 2014 emboldened hardline teams who see India as a Hindu nation and its 200 million-strong Muslim minority as doubtlessly harmful outsiders.
Gurgaon is a contemporary satellite tv for pc metropolis of the capital New Delhi. Round 500,000 Muslims both dwell there, have migrated to the realm for work or labour there in the course of the day.
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Town has 15 mosques for them, however the native authorities has refused permission to construct extra — even because the variety of Hindu temples has grown.
This has compelled the neighborhood to carry Friday afternoon prayers — a very powerful of the week for Muslims — in open areas.
In recent times, Hindu teams have sprayed cow dung at Islamic prayer websites and referred to as worshippers terrorists and Pakistanis. The native authorities, in the meantime, has steadily minimize the variety of authorised outside worship websites.
Earlier this month, the Haryana state chief minister, a member of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Celebration, declared that outside prayers in Gurgaon “will now not be tolerated”.
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Undermining their argument that faith may be practised solely indoors, Hindu teams celebrated final Friday by establishing a makeshift temple and neighborhood kitchen to feed lots of as devotional music blared.
Throughout city, lots of of Muslims queued to take turns to worship at one in every of solely six remaining prayer venues nonetheless out there.
At one other web site, Muslims had been heckled and compelled to chant slogans reminiscent of “Hail Lord Ram” — a Hindu deity — which have proliferated below Modi amongst his supporters.
“If the federal government would not discover a answer to the difficulty… it’ll change into extra difficult and critical,” Sabir Qasmi, a Muslim cleric on the prayer assembly, informed AFP.
Modi is a lifelong member of the hardline Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Hindu nationalist group. He was briefly barred from the US over spiritual riots in Gujarat in 2002 when he was state chief minister.
Since his coming to energy, a string of lynchings of Muslims by Hindu mobs for so-called cow safety — a sacred animal for a lot of Hindus — and different hate crimes has sown concern and despair in the neighborhood.
A number of states have introduced in laws criminalising conversion to Christianity and Islam, together with by way of marriage — or “love jihad” as Hindu hardliners name it.
This week, a video emerged from a current gathering of right-wing Hindu teams wherein some delegates referred to as for Muslims to be killed, reviews stated.
Hindu protesters in Gurgaon say outside prayers pose a “safety” threat, trigger site visitors issues and forestall kids from taking part in cricket.
However critics say the actual motive is just that Muslims don’t have any place in Modi’s new illiberal India, the place Hindu zealots are dictating authorities coverage.
Arati R. Jerath, a political commentator, stated there’s an agenda to transform India from a pluralistic and secular nation right into a “Hindu nation”.
“Whether or not it’s financial areas or areas for worship, or areas for the meals and customs or something with a Muslim identification, that’s going to be a part of the challenge,” Jerath informed AFP.
“It’s not essentially a government-sponsored challenge, however actually a challenge by the supporters of this authorities, who… get tacit help from the federal government.”
On Sunday, the top of a Hindu umbrella group proposed an answer: Muslims ought to convert.
“They are going to have their temples to wish and this (prayer) subject will finish,” stated Mahaveer Bhardwaj, chairman of the Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti.