CAIRO – As Indian election officials wrap up the last episodes of world’s biggest-ever democratic process, experts are warning that an expected victory of Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi would encourage moderate Muslims to join extremist groups amid increasing feelings of injustice.
“The concern is people who would have remained on the fringes of militancy in calmer times may now be drawn in,” one US-based security official and frequent visitor to south Asia told The Guardian.
Over the past month, hundreds of millions of Indians have voted in the world’s biggest-ever elections which have been running from April 7 to May 12.
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The elections come amid expectations that India's 814-million-strong electorate are going to inflict a heavy defeat on the ruling Congress party, in power for 10 years, and elect hardliner Modi from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
As Modi’s electoral campaign goes on, Muslims woes which date back to 2002 massacre of Muslims were still alive.
More than 2,000 Muslims were hacked and burnt to death in Gujarat in 2002 by Hindu mobs after Hindu pilgrims died in a train fire, which was first blamed on Muslims but turned accidental due to a later inquiry.
Several investigations at the state and federal levels accused police of failing to protect Muslims under orders from Modi and his aides, fanning one of the worst instances of sectarian violence in India.
Instead of working to calm Muslim fears, Modi has been engaged in several controversial anti-Muslim comments.
Giriraj Singh, a BJP leader in the state of Bihar, said that those opposed to Narendra Modi (BJP’s prime ministerial candidate) would have to leave India and go to Pakistan once the BJP wins the elections and forms the government.
Later it was Pravin Togadia, the firebrand leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a Hindu organization associated with BJP, who offered advice to majority Hindus to stop the minority Muslims from purchasing properties in Hindu-dominated areas.
Another statement from a BJP partner organization in the state of Maharashtra showed Shiv Sena leader Ramdad Kadam said that Narendra Modi would teach a lesson to Muslim rioters.
Narendra Modi distanced himself from these statements and dubbed them as “irresponsible”.
Yet, the controversial Hindu politician was accused of flaring the latest episode of anti-Muslim in Assam district where more than 30 Muslims were killed over the past week.
Amid increasing anti-Muslim sentiments, new signs of radicalizations appeared among India’s Muslim community, though the number involved remained extremely small.
A recently retired US official described Modi to The Guardian as a “lightning rod both for internal and Pakistan-based militant groups.”
BJP extremist comments were adding to Muslim concerns inside and outside India.
Signs appeared last year after videos released by a newly formed extremist group calling itself Ansar ul Tauheed al Hindi and apparently based in Afghanistan or western Pakistan called for violent attacks in India in revenge for 2002 Gujarat massacre and sectarian violence in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh earlier in 2013.
One video, called From Kandahar to Delhi, refers to Indians, who the group said had joined their ranks.
There have also been a series of bombings that have been blamed on a local Islamic militant cell.
Security officials in India are concerned that the imminent withdrawal of US combat forces from Afghanistan will trigger increased violence, especially in Kashmir.
The conflict in Afghanistan has acted as a pressure valve for many of the most extreme groups and the Pakistani security establishment “might feel the need to let them vent”, said Nigel Inkster, at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
Inkster, however, said that the future militarization of any Indian Muslim much would depend on Modi's actions when in power, if he wins.
“What he does and particularly whether he keeps the more extreme Hindu tendencies in check will be key,” he said.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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