India after the election: “The threats are not just Christians and Muslims as minority; but human rights and human dignity is at stake”

Der indische katholische Priester und Menschenrechtsaktivist Ajaya Kumar Sing aus Odisha. Foto:

Der indische katholische Priester und Menschenrechtsaktivist Ajaya Kumar Sing aus Odisha. Foto:

missio-Partner Fr. Ajay Kumar Singh ist katholischer Priester und Menschenrechts-Aktivist in Bhubanes im Bundesstaat Orissa. Er setzte sich besonders für die Aufklärung von Angriffen gegen Christen in Orissa und gegen Moslems im Bundesstaat Gujdarat ein. Für sein Engagement hat er dafür unter anderem einen Preis der Nationalen Kommission für Minoritäten in Indien bekommen. Johannes Seibel stellte ihm am heutigen Freitag, 16. Mai, mehrere Fragen zum Wahlsieg der hindunationalistischen Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) und dessen Kandidaten Narendra Modi. 

Frage: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is most probably going to win the election of India new Parliament, Narendra Modi most probably the new Premier of India. What does this mean for “non-Hindu”-minorities like Muslims and Christians?

Fr. Ajay Kumar Singh: We hope BJP does not get absolute majority. Even if it does not get majority, the scenario, still could be grim as the parties who would support it would know what Modi and Sangh Parivar stood for. On earlier occasion, there were pretensions and conditionalities. Those who have left earlier coalitions of BJP on the basis of Gujarat and other communal violence could join coalition mean they care less about the communal violence less more about the history of it.

For the minorities and those who believe in human rights; everybody is aware that he sat over the massacre of more than thousands of Muslim minority in Gujarat; justice has become a dream. The person who is accused of mass murder chosen by Bharatiya Janata Party candidate over other senior national leaders of the party reflects that it is going to implement its hindutva agenda.  Worse, still, the three time banned outfit, Rastriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) in Independent India for the first time dictated to BJP to nominate Modi reflects BJP as a democratic political party does not exist.  Worse still, a recent expose of a news magazine The Caravan expose that RSSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat sanctioned Terrorist attacks on the civilians that claimed 119 lives

Former RSS chief KS Sudershan has had inaugurated Birth Centenary Celebration of Sri Golwalkar  in Kandhamal 2006 and concluded in  Bhubaneswar in January 2007 in Odisha. We saw what happened in December 2007 and 2008 that claimed more than one hundred lives and thousands houses were reduced to ashes and more than one hundred thousand took refuge in the hills and mountains. There is a fear and insecurity among the religious minority communities. Unlike earlier, present candidate is polarized figure and his claims of being ‘Nationalist Hindu”. What happened in Kandhamal today is the result of hate campaign engineered by RSS for more than forty years. Any sane, independent and human rights defenders voice could be labeled as trouble maker, foreign agent or terrorist exposing the communities into more vulnerability and conflicts within and among the ethnic religious minority communties. There may or may not be immediate attack; but there is a possibility of controlling Indian independent institutions backed by Corporate houses. Wish our fears proved to be wrong.

Narendra Modi has been involved in clashes and progroms against Muslims in Gujarat 2002. But 2010 the Supreme Court discontinued a law-suit against Modi. So – does he want to take revenge to the independent judiciary in India,  does he imperil the system of constitutional checks and balances in India?

National Human Rights Commission indicted Narendra Modi for his role in orchestrating Gujarat Genocide. The Supreme Court too had observed, “Modi, a modern day Nero” and Supreme Court had appointed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) and also Amicus Curiae, Raju Ramchandran. Both submitted the reports. While SIT could not find the evidence against Modi, Amicus Curiae suggested for cross-examination of Modi. Eventhough, Supreme Court did not agree for reconstitution of a new SIT, it does not mean that Modi is free from the mass crime. In fact, new revelation has come on the role of SIT itself through a book authored by senior journalist Manoj Mitta, “The Fiction of Fact-Finding” that accuses the team and its chief, R.K.Raghvan, a retired police officer, who instead of conducting investigation, tried to shield Mod; thus the book named Fiction of the Fact Finding on the role of Modi. The author exposes shambles and deficiency in criminal justice delivery system. There is another instance that captures if BJP wrests power how it would deal with Judiciary.

Arun Jaiteley, the former Union Cabinet Minister for Law and Justice issued a veiled warning to the judiciary when Congress government announced that it would go for snoop gate probe; “I will be very curious to know the name of the judge who has agreed to ‘lend’ himself to the UPA. I will be surprised if there is one”. There were comments that the judges even the retired ones refused to head the probe. Even Congress backed out. If a threat of this sort comes from a former Minister of Law and Justice with allegations of a Prime Minister candidate involving in it. This shows what is to come if he becomes the Prime Minister of the country.

“Snoopgate” involves allegations that secretly-recorded phone conversations reveal that as Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr Modi tasked his close aide Amit Shah, to ensure the woman was spied upon by top police officers. Snoop gate reflects how a Chief Minister could use his power for personal end and eliminate any dissident voices too.

He might not tolerate any critique and would see as threats; thus there would not checks and balances. Of course, he would do so in a subtle way so that the blame does not reach to him.

Do you assume the worst for fighting for human rights both for Christians and Muslims and why?

As the BJP’s core agenda is hindutva; win would definitely seen as winning of the agenda itself. It does have ramifications on the religious minorities that have been under attacks from these groups.

The threats are not just Christians and Muslims as minority; but human rights and human dignity is at stake. The diversity and pluralism of India is under threats; so far it is done under guise. But the scenario could be threatening ones. As mentioned earlier, sanitized and critical voice could be muzzled and the community leadership either have to compromised or be harassed. Hindutva would be equated identity of being Indian. Secularism would give in place to Hindutva. Hindutva would slowly would gain ground as state religion while the minorities as equal right holders and practitioners of religious believers would be relegated to private spheres.

India has a bad record of human rights violations. Muslims were the first target followed by Christians. In both cases, ethnic-religious minorities of these communities are the worst affected be it Gujarat and Odisha. Military Intelligence reveals that Hindutva forces were involved in Odisha violence too. It does mean that the minority conflicts are well thought out national agenda of the Sangh Parivar. In the recent elections, we could notice so called “secular’ political parties, academicians, media, intellectuals of all hues and human right activists joined BJP. There is infiltration to the nation’s independent organs; but this would be systematized and legitimized with the ascension of the Modi taking charge.

How did you characterize Narendra Modis ideology?

Modi is a poster boy of Sangh Parivar. Their agenda is establishing a hindu nation and have Manu’s law in place of The Constitution. He did succeed to some extent in Gujarat by polarizing communities with a start of communal violence resulting thousands of people losing lives. Criminal Justice delivery system was derailed and justice denied to the victims survivors. The name itself evokes fear and insecurity not just among the minority; but across who respect and value equity, equality and justice of every citizen of the country. He could break Model of Code of Conduct when Election Commission contemplating filing FIR, he dared them to file it. Never a Prime Minister would threaten an independent institution like that. In another instance, a story of how Narendra Modi subverted criminal justice delivery system appeared in an important newspapers could disappear within hours of its in the news website speak of the ideology and character of the person.

Modi walks out of an Interview with Karan Thapar, a senior jounalist instead of responding as to why he does not ask sorry for killings in Gujarat. This shows that he cannot face the truth

Amartya Sen, the awardee of Novel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and Professor of Harvard University and Cambridge University says he cannot accept a development model that does not address the concerns of socially and religious marginalized groups is not a model to follow.

Today, Modi Model is based on corporate hindutva agenda; it is agenda on purely physical infrastructure development that excludes minorities and people of the margins while the big business houses milk on it.

Narendra Modi has been a very successful Chief-minister of Gujarat, concerning building up good infrastructure and good conditions for industrial development. But the poor, and amongst them most Muslims, didn’t profit. Modi claimed in his electoral campaign, he wants to fight corruption. He promised streets for every village, to simplify the ways for investing money. How does this work together, simultaneously excluding all other groups than Hindu from national wealth?

The propaganda that Gujarat is model state of development is false and sheer lies. Prof.  Jean Drèze is Honorary Professor at Delhi School of Economics, and Member of National Advisory Council, Government of India and co-Author with Amartya Sen of An Uncertain Glory, India and Its Contradictions says, “If Gujarat is a model, Kerala and Tamil Nadu is super models”. “Gujarat place is in 9th position among 20th major states-very close to the middle of ranking in terms of Human Development Index, the best indicator of development. In Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). Briefly, the idea is that poverty manifests itself in different kinds of deprivation — lack of food, shelter, sanitation, schooling, health care, and so on Gujarat comes 9th (again) while in the Composite Development Index too has ten components related to per capita consumption, household amenities, health, education, urbanisation, connectivity, financial inclusion, and so on; Gujarat scores 9th among 20 major States”. ( iddle/article5999561.ece). While 52,260 number of scholarships minority students should have got in Gujarat, through the Centre started a scholarship scheme for minorities; to be shared in 75:25 ratio between the Centre and state to encourage students from poor families to complete schooling. Since the scheme started, Gujarat has let the funds lapse by not sending any proposal to the Centre for giving these scholarships. (Source: A report by Ministry of Minority Affair,MMA,GOI,2011-12).

This is a reflection of their minority phobia perspective. Crony Capitalists have taken advantages as Gujarat government gave away the land at throw away prices; honoured them while Supreme Court threatened them for legal actions with exploitation of resources in nexus with political class. Modi has become their refugee and only he could challenge the India’s institutions to protect them. But at what’s cost? Today there is nexus between corporate, hindutva and well gelled by media, whose credibility is at stake more than ever before in India. Both the margins and minorities of India’s future are at stake with voices being drowned and their resistance could be crushed.

Narendra Modi announced a harsher pace against Pakistan, what does this mean for the whole region?

His threats to attack Pakistan as it appeared in media seem to reflection of his persona and ideological moorings who wants to settles scores with muscle rather than negotiations. His call for repatriation of Bangladeshi muslims and welcome of Hindus is a divisive and would definitely sends a wrong signals in the region.  There would be suspicion and chaos as the states boardering India has not succeeded as democratic countries; and this type of posturing would only strengthen the religious fundamentalists to sway in region.  Threats cannot be foundations of good neighborhood relations to cement further.

How should European Democracies and the European Union react to the winning BJP and Narendra Modi – anyway this has been legal elections

So far, what we see EU as such looks for trade and commerce except for occasional utterances on the issue of human rights violations. As trade and commerce is major concern, EU would not bother as the change of guard. Wish, EU could take home human rights issue vis religious freedom and citizens rights is critical to for a just world order.

What do you expect from missio?

Civil Society Groups and Church based Groups like missio could play its proactive role to engage its obligations as India being a signatory to the six core human rights covenants and it played stellar role in drafting The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), 1949 as the people of margins and minorities are violated ever before.

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