by Mohammed Ajeeb, CBE
“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” – Abraham Lincoln
The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Damodardas Modi’s recent visit to Britain was marked by cheerful greetings, noisy and angry demonstrations, contempt, and some unfavourable and critical media reports. However, Mr David Cameron, our Prime Minister, received him on the rolling red carpet and showered him with factitious words of praise and admiration with the hope of securing more investment to the UK and vice versa. When Modi was received by a huge crowd of British Indians at Wembley Stadium, David Cameron accompanied him and acted as a compere and then greeted the crowd by speaking a few sentences in Hindi. He seized this opportunity to woo his potential voters as most of those present were wealthy businessmen and women.
On the other hand, Jeremy Corbyn the Labour leader, shunned Mr Modi and had a short private meeting with him. The reports suggest that Mr Corbyn, in this meeting, very cogently raised with Mr Modi the question of abuses of human rights in India. Mr Corbyn has been a consistent critic of Modi in the last few years.
On 12 November, a large demonstration was held against Modi in front of 10 Downing Street by mainly British Kashmiris as well as a number of Sikhs, Nepalese, Bhutanese and Sri Lankans. All these groups were protesting against Modi and his government’s intransigent and aggressive policies against their people. Under the Modi regime, the Kashmiris who have been struggling to achieve their fundamental right of self-determination for longer than half a century, claim to be suffering most grievously now from anti-Muslim overt policies of the present Indian government. The escalation of anti-Muslim sentiments in India, they believe their struggle for freedom will require more sacrifice of lives. Already more than eighty thousand men, woman and children are estimated to have been killed by the Indian security forces, numbering over three quarter of a million stationed there for the last 30 years.
Mr Modi, who is well known as the butcher of Muslims during his reign as the chief minister of the Gujarat state in 2002, has recently been dubbed with the new title of ‘Hindu Taliban’ in an article written by Anish Kapoor in the Guardian. It is believed that Modi’s political shaping has greatly been influenced by his close association with the extreme militant Hindu organisations who have flourished in India since independence. Among the most bellicose of them are the Rashtriya Sawayam Sevak Sangh, Bajrang Dal and Bhartya Jan Sangh. Mahatma Gandhi, the symbol of none violence, peace and harmony was assassinated on 30 January 1948 by Nathuram Godsey, a militant Hindu and a prominent member of Mahasabha. Unfortunately, the resurgence of this mind-set is being supported and encouraged by the present government of BJP in India. Muslims and Christians are being forced into mass Hindu conversions and the suffocation of the freedom of expression, the raping of women and banning of consumption of beef are a few examples of Modi’s India. Some Muslims have been lynched and brutally murdered by fanatic Hindus because they were suspected of eating beef.
India, a so called secular country and the greatest democracy of the world, is fast becoming a land of intolerance, discrimination, violence and extremism where religious minorities have to live under oppression and the fear of losing their indentures and even their lives. Those who oppose these evil doings, are harassed and muzzled. The gravity of the current situation is noted by the world media too.
The history of India is imbued with a sense of grandeur, diversity, pathos, casteism, subjugation, polarisation, poverty and squalor. However, since its independence, most leaders of the country were sincere in developing India as a secular, modern and tolerant nation. Jawaharlal Nehru, on the sad occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, while addressing the nation said: ”Friends and comrades, the light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere.” Once again, the clouds of darkness are hovering over India’s horizon. The return of the mind set which took the life of Gandhi is at work again. India’s secularism and unity can be at risk if the necessary steps to nip into the bud of this evil are not taken now.
Meanwhile, BJP, the ruling party, has recently faced the electoral defeat in the eastern state of Bihar and many of the individuals and civil liberty groups are openly opposing Modi’s state sponsored oppressive measures. The women organisations have also come out to agitate against some of the obsolete attitudes of the extremists. Such moves should be welcomed and supported by all freedom loving people.
Boasting by Modi while in London, about the fast growing Indian economy and its influence in the region, does not stand any scrutiny. The preponderance of Indian masses are still struggling with the drudgery of their existence. The country’s relations with its neighbours are at their lowest ebb. Recent escalation of skirmishes on the border with Pakistan were feared to be turned into another war between the two neighbours. Kashmir still remains a flash point. Separatist movements in the country under Modi are gaining strength.
Despite the spending of millions of pounds by Modi’s friends in London, helped by David Cameron, they failed to achieve their goal. Modi could not win any laurels for himself because he could not fool all the British people. He was only able to fool himself.