NEW DELHI: Santa Claus was set on fire this Christmas. Before being consumed by flames, he was attacked, hit by sticks, his beard pulled. As they beat him, they kept chanting, “Santa Claus Murdabad” (“Down with Santa”).
This time, the mob in Agra, hometown to the Taj Mahal, burnt an effigy. But the temperature of hate against non-Hindu minorities is rising in India. Next time, it won’t be an effigy that’s lynched and burnt.
The mob proudly identified itself as the “Bajrang Dal,” a militant affiliate of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS, the mothership of the ruling Bharatiya Janata party. Its members acted on a toxic combination of ignorance, a desperation for the television gaze and the knowledge that attacking minorities in Modi’s India – both Muslims and Christians – has zero consequences.
As vengeful sectarian is emboldened ever further, India’s tiny Christian minority, just 2.3 percent of the population of an overwhelmingly (79.8 percent) Hindu country join its 200 million Muslims as the target of the majoritarian mob baying for the creation of a Hindu Rashtra (exclusivist theocratic Hindu nation) dreamt up by the RSS to replace constitutional democracy in India, wrote Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
On Christmas Day, goons disrupted services in Haryana, a tiny state bordering Delhi. They stopped the prayers and forced the Christians to chant “Jai Shree Ram,” (“Victory to Lord Ram”) their war cry, which is now a shorthand for majoritarian bullying and was once an innocuous greeting in Northern India. The police in the BJP-ruled state looked the other way, not even bothering to lodge a complaint.
Following Christmas Day prayers, vandals smashed up a statue of Jesus at a historic church in the same state. Three days before, a church was vandalized in Karnataka’s Chikkaballapur.
Days before, a Hindu religious congregation made up of saffron-wearing extremists made chilling calls for Muslim genocide in Haridwar, in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand. The genocide calls were recorded on video, and those making them could be plainly identified.
“Every Hindu” was exhorted to pick up weapons to “protect” their religion from Muslims. “There is no more time…there’s no other way…there’s no solution apart from” getting ready to kill them, the speakers declared.
“Nothing is possible without weapons. If you want to eliminate their population then kill them. Be ready to kill and be ready to go to jail. Even if 100 of us are ready to kill 20 lakhs [two million] of them [Muslims], then we will be victorious, and go to jail,” one of the speakers said, adding she was prepared to be “maligned” like Gandhi’s assassin, Nathuram Godse, but would still “pick up arms to defend my Hindutva from every demon who is a threat to my religion.”
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