Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during an event to commemorate India’s largest private sector lender ICICI Bank’s 60th year of existence in Mumbai January 2, 2015. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
DELHI – As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi maintains his silence over the recent controversy on Hindu conversions, Muslims in the sub-continent feel vulnerable with hard core Hindu groups holding such ceremonies to target minorities in different parts of the country.
“We have to wait and watch before coming to any conclusion about the Modi government,” Mufti Abdul Razzaq of Jamiat Ulema-Hindi, one of the leading Islamic organizations in India, told OnIslam.net.
“Modi is the country’s Prime Minister and not of a particular community; so this time he cannot discriminate between different communities.”
He said Muslims expect Modi to rein in radical groups.
“An ordinary Muslim still doubts Prime Minister Narendra Modi; so he should make clear that he doesn’t support such things,” he added.
Over the past weeks, far-right Hindushave held claimed “conversion” ceremonies for scores of Muslims and Christians.
Bigot Hindus claim that in the past, large numbers of Hindus had converted to become Christians or Muslims under coercion or greed and there is nothing wrong in facilitating their return to their original faith.
They have termed it as ‘Ghar Vapsi’ (or homecoming), but minority communities have hit out at their Ghar Vapsi campaign and dubbed it illegal and an attack on the nation’s secular structure. Hindu hardliners want to declare India a nation of Hindus and avow they will continue to work to bring back the forced converts to Hinduism. But minorities feel Hindu organizations have suddenly upped the ante against them.
Ordinary Muslims also feel that it will not be easy for the prime minister to speak against fundamentalist Hindu organizations as he needs their support and that is why he is remaining silent. They feel that Modi’s dilemma is that he can’t afford to antagonize Hindu outfits and at the same time doesn’t wish to be dragged into the controversy.
“We have seen that there has been steady increase in cases where Muslims are being targeted. The situation would become worse in the coming months for minorities, especially Muslims and Christians. Prime Minister Modi’s silence shows that he supports radicals and his only agenda is to gain power,” said Shakeel Akhtar to OnIslam.net.
Meanwhile, Muslims feel that the radical Hindu organizations are making every effort to create disturbance in the country.
Other Muslim scholars believe that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has nothing to do with such controversies in India, blaming radical Hindu groups for pursuing this divisive agenda.
“The sudden spurt in conversion debate has caught Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a bind,” Muslim scholar Rasheed Kidwai told OnIslam.net.
“His government wishes to remain focused on development, whereas BJP’s allies and supporter radical Hindu groups like Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Bajrang Dal and others wish to dub BJP’s electoral success as Hindu awakening and assertiveness.
“They are now keen to pursue their divisive agenda but given their support for Modi and BJP, the Prime Minister seems reluctant to rein them in,” He further said, “Civil society and Opposition parties are targeting BJP over re-conversion issue. Moderates, who support and voted for Modi, are unable to comprehend why such issues are being raised now.”
“There is a general view that these vocal utterances adversely affected BJP poll prospects in India’s restive and only Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir. A demoralized and dispirited Opposition got a lease of life in Parliament and cornered the government over the issue.
“The row paralyzed the House and prevented the government from bringing important legislations in the recent winter session of Parliament,” he added.
A large number of Muslim leaders feel that the conversion row and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence will not only create insecurity in the minds of Muslims but also promote terrorism.
Muslim leader and Congress spokesman Rashid Alvi told OnIslam.net, “The government must take strong stand against communal forces. Narendra Modi should issue a statement so that Muslims may feel more secure. His silence on controversial issues creates suspicion about his intentions. Such things will promote terrorism in the country.”
Sheik Azam, a Muslim leader in Uttar Pradesh, alleged Narendra Modi is indirectly supporting divisive elements who want to create an atmosphere of hatred in India.
Said Sheik Azam said, “Times are hard for minorities in India. The way things are going on shows that fundamentalist organizations have their own agenda. They want to terrorize minorities for their own gains. The government has to take action against these groups; otherwise they would vitiate the peaceful atmosphere of the country.”
“Narendra Modi has to answer many questions. As the Prime Minister, he cannot remain silent while minorities in the country are being targeted. He is not the man to be trusted right now,” Azam told OnIslam.net.
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on OnIslam.net and is reprinted here with permission.