- Even after elections
PM Narendra Modi’s re-election campaign was a thumping success with 303 seats won by the BJP to secure a comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha, even excluding its alliance partners. At the core of the campaign was an ultra-nationalist message targeted primarily at Indian Muslims. At the back of this message are atrocities against Muslims living in Indian Occupied Kashmir that saw a significant escalation in violent incidents after the killing of freedom fighter Burhan Wani in 2016, which are still ongoing. Indian Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen in a recent interview termed these atrocities as the “biggest blot on Indian democracy” as he blamed the Modi-led BJP government of grossly mishandling the situation. The Pulwama incident in Indian-Held Kashmir perhaps provided Modi the perfect opportunity to really up the ante by blaming the attack on Pakistan to justify the Balakot airstrike where India for the first time since 1971 violated Pakistan’s airspace. It brought the two nuclear armed powers to the brink of war but as Indian elections approached, the tension was gradually reduced.
It was therefore assumed that once Modi had clinched victory there would be a reversal in this policy. So far that has not happened and does not seem likely. Violence in IHK continues, with the latest fight taking place in Pulwama where four rebel fighters were killed. The inhumane use of pellet guns against youth protestors has seen an uptick. Domestically Muslims who happen to be the largest minority in India are still living in fear. Since Modi’s win there have been five reported incidents of violence against Muslims. The appointment of Amit Shah, a close confidant of Modi and president of the BJP, as Home Minister is cause for concern as well. He has been accused of extrajudicial killings in Gujrat when he served as Home Minister of the state while being the prime accused in the fake encounter of a Muslim couple as well. The emerging circumstances in India indicate that the promises Modi made in his election campaign were much more than plain old rhetoric and the shift towards a truly ‘Hindu India’ will continue.