New Delhi (AsiaNews) - Indian human rights activists, members of civil society groups (including many Hindus) and representatives of India's religious minorities gathered on Saturday at Delhi's Jantar Mantar to urge India's Union government to adopt a zero tolerance stance towards radical Hindu groups and thus stop their violence, coercion and hate campaigns against religious minorities.
In addressing the gathering, speakers stressed how the number of cases of persecution of Muslims and Christians rose after this year's general election, which ended in a landslide victory for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), a coalition led by the ultra-nationalist Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi who became prime minister.
In fact, since 16 May, when election results were released, Indian media have reported more than 600 cases of violence against members of India's Muslim and Christian minorities, in particular in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The obvious support of the local authorities has favoured the outburst of violence.
"We had hoped that the acrid rhetoric of the election campaign would end with the declaration of the results, and the formation of a new government at the centre," said John Dayal, a member of the National Integration Council, secretary-general of the All India Christian Council, and former president of the All India Catholic Union.
Instead, the first 100 days of the new regime have seen "a crescendo of hate speech against Muslims and Christians," their "identity derided, their patriotism mocked, their citizenship questioned, their faith mocked," John Dayal said.
Minorities' social "environment has degenerated into one of coercion, divisiveness, and suspicion. This has percolated to the small towns and villages of rural India, severing bonds forged in a dialogue of life over the centuries, shattering the harmony built around the messages of peace and brotherhood given us by the Sufis and the men and women who led the Freedom Struggle under Mahatma Gandhi."
Those who addressed the gathering noted that the increase of violence in rural areas is part of a well-planned strategy by radical groups. This includes keeping the "body count" low whilst pursuing everyday routine violence to spread tensions and create panic.
Another scheme is to carry out an anti-Islam campaign (see love jihad) and turn India-Pakistan relations into a subset of Hindu-Muslim relations in India. (NC e SD)