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The Violent Toll of Hindu Nationalism in India


Eliza Griswold: Last July, the pattern of killings of Muslims grew so dire—in 2018, there were thirteen fatal cow-related lynchings—that the Indian Supreme Court demanded that the legislature formulate laws against the practice, which it has yet to do. Last month, Human Rights Watch released a hundred-and-four-page report documenting the violence, and the inaction—and abuses—of the government officials charged with investigating the crimes. “Lynching has become a nationalist project,” Mohammad Ali, a prominent Indian journalist who is currently working on a book about the phenomenon, told me. He said few perpetrators are punished, which has created a culture of impunity. Killers are lauded in some quarters as heroes for defending the faith and eradicating Muslims.

The Khans’ case was rare in that Pehlu, who briefly regained consciousness before dying, was able to identify several of his attackers by name, none of whom were charged. […] A video of the attack, recorded by one of the perpetrators, was posted on a YouTube channel related to the Bajrang Dal. It quickly accumulated more than six hundred thousand views.

[…] There were dozens of similar videos showing killings of Muslims, which were deeply disturbing both for their violence and for the obvious pride that the attackers took in being Internet stars. In one, a man wearing white pants and a bright pink sweater beat a Muslim man to death with a stick and sets him on fire, accusing him of committing “love jihad”: falling in love with a Hindu woman. After recording the murder, the attacker turns to the camera and says, “I am appealing to all Hindu sisters that don’t get into the trap of these jihadis. These people will win your heart and satisfy their lust.” In the another, a Bajrang Dal member leans into a truck’s open window. “What is your name?” he shouts, slapping the driver. “Mubarak,” the driver replies. The cameraman slaps him again. “Say ‘Mubarak Muslim,’ ” he demands. Finally, we found the video of Pehlu’s murder. It begins with Pehlu sitting on a curb, his palm upturned as he pleads with someone off camera. Then one of the attackers knocks him backward, and he disappears from the frame. More here.

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