Indians unite against Mus­lim hate crimes

Killings spark na­tion­wide out­rage

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

ANEW cam­paign #Not­in­my­name is sweep­ing In­dia and some ma­jor in­ter­na­tional cities against a re­cent streak of Mus­lim killings near the In­dian cap­i­tal.

The cam­paign was started just three days ago by Saba De­wan, a New Delhi-based film-maker, and two other film-mak­ers and ac­tivists, Rahul Roy and San­jay Kak.

As part of the cam­paign, protests against the Mus­lim hate crimes were planned for yes­ter­day in In­dian cities, in­clud­ing Delhi, Luc­know, Hy­der­abad, Ban­ga­lore and Kolkata, as well as Lon­don, Toronto, and Bos­ton.

The move­ment was sparked by na­tional out­rage af­ter a Mus­lim teenager was stabbed to death last week on sus­pi­cion of pos­sess­ing beef, an of­fi­cer said on Sun­day.

Po­lice ar­rested one of his al­leged at­tack­ers on Sun­day.

Cow slaugh­ter is banned in most In­dian states whose pre­dom­i­nantly Hindu pop­u­la­tion con­sider the an­i­mal to be sa­cred.

But Hindu hard­lin­ers and cow vig­i­lante groups have taken to en­forc­ing the law them­selves ever since Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s Hindu na­tion­al­ist govern­ment came to power in 2014.

Last Thurs­day evening, 16-yearold Ju­naid Khan was killed and three oth­ers were in­jured in a fight that erupted on a train soon af­ter it left Delhi for the town of Mathura.

Po­lice of­fi­cer Ka­mal Deep Goyal said the fight started over an ar­gu­ment over seats on the train. A group of more than a dozen men ac­cused Ju­naid and his fam­ily, who were re­turn­ing home af­ter shop­ping for Eid, of hav­ing beef in their bags.

“They started abus­ing us, say­ing we were Mus­lims and traitors. They said we should go back to Pak­istan,” Ju­naid’s brother Shakir said.

A group of 10 to 12 young Hindu men pulled out knives and stabbed the three broth­ers. A photo shows the blood-drenched com­part­ment.

Goyal said the po­lice were hunt­ing for other at­tack­ers in the group.

The at­tack was the lat­est against Mus­lims who make up about 14% of In­dia’s 1.3 bil­lion pop­u­la­tion.

In April, a Mus­lim dairy farmer was lynched in the north-west­ern state of Ra­jasthan for al­legedly smug­gling cows.

Op­po­si­tion groups have crit­i­cised Modi for fail­ing to speak out against the violence tar­geted at Mus­lims, ac­cus­ing his party of sec­tar­ian bias.

“An at­mos­phere of ha­tred and Is­lam­o­pho­bia is be­ing cre­ated in the coun­try,” said Asadud­din Owaisi, the head of the All In­dia Ma­jlis-e-It­te­hadul Mus­limeen (All In­dia Coun­cil of the Union of Mus­lims).

The re­cent at­tack brought De­wan to tears. “Ju­naid’s killing was com­pletely shat­ter­ing. That re­ally ag­i­tated me. I thought if some­one will not speak up, I’ll protest.”

De­wan turned to Face­book, cre­at­ing an event page. “In that emo­tional mo­ment, I wrote on Face­book, ask­ing shouldn’t we all be protest­ing as cit­i­zens,” she said.

De­wan got an over­whelm­ing re­sponse. More than 5 000 peo­ple in the New Delhi chap­ter of the move­ment alone are ex­pected to join the protest, in­clud­ing fam­i­lies of vic­tims.

Fol­low­ing the killing of Ju­naid and oth­ers, Mus­lims all over In­dia ob­served #Black­Eid, mark­ing the end of the holy month of Ra­madaan wear­ing black arm­bands dur­ing prayers as a mark of sol­i­dar­ity with the vic­tims of the re­li­gious hate crimes.

But Ju­naid’s death was met with si­lence from the rul­ing right-wing Bhar­tiya Janta Party. A day af­ter the killing, not a sin­gle BJP min­is­ter showed up at the pres­i­dent’s tra­di­tional If­tar, a re­li­gious ob­ser­vance of Ra­madaan where the com­mu­nity breaks the fast to­gether.

When in April, a 55-year-old dairy farmer Pehlu Khan was lynched for trans­port­ing cat­tle, not a sin­gle BJP min­is­ter con­demned the act.

“The at­tacks are at the level of sys­tem­atic violence and the state is main­tain­ing com­plete si­lence, which is cre­at­ing a sense of im­punity for peo­ple who can go out and lynch a Mus­lim,” De­wan said.

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi has come un­der fire for not con­demn­ing the in­ci­dents, the lat­est of which claimed a youth on a train.

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