The ugly communal face of Modi’s BJP government in India is now exposed to the world in all its grisly details. Not the least among the Muslim countries of the Middle East where notice has been taken of the genocide-like treatment meted out to the Muslims of Kashmir and the rest of India. There is a marked change of mood and tone in the UAE and Saudi Arabia towards India on account of anti-Muslim sentiment that has accompanied the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) stint in power.
It may be pointed out here that Pakistan has been attempting quietly to convey its concerns over the lockdown in Kashmir and the violence against and repression of Muslims in India for some time. In August 2019, Pakistan expressed its concern over the UAE conferring that country’s highest civil award on Modi, but the message was ignored. Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman visited India after Pakistan and called Modi his elder brother. Riyadh was also seen flirting with Modi, a hardline leader and proponent of Hindutva in power in New Delhi. Anti-Muslim vigilante violence in India and the (pre-coronavirus) months-long lockdown in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) has been a major cause of concern in Pakistan for some time. And this concern was conveyed to our friends in the Gulf. But little notice was taken of the worsening communal situation against Muslims in india.
However, now with the coronavirus pandemic gripping the world, its fallout in India against its Muslim population has brought out the worst aspects of communal-religious profiling and hatred. In March 2020, right-wing Hindu nationalists, including some ruling party politicians, blamed the Tableeghi Jamaat for spreading the coronavirus pandemic because of their congregations. Reports speak of Muslim patients of the coronavirus being segregated from Hindus and in some cases denied treatment in hospitals, leading to some deaths. Growing incidents of violence against Muslims accused of being the source of COVID-19 have added to the tally of attacks against Muslims on the spurious counts of cow slaughter, supporting the opposition parties (e.g., the Aam Aadmi Party’s election win in Delhi not long ago), opposing the Modi government’s Citizens Registration Act, etc.
On top of all this, comments by expatriate Indians in the Gulf and elsewhere and in India itself have irritated both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, although the displeasure has not yet found official expression but been left to prominent figures in the ruling families and officials to voice. Not only prominent figures in Saudi Arabia and the UAE have condemned the continuing violence against innocent Muslims, but the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) too has adopted a condemnatory resolution, something unthinkable without Saudi prompting and support, given Riyadh’s dominant influence in the OIC.
It is a welcome development that the Gulf states can now see the real face of so-called democratic India. Pakistan needs the goodwill and material support of the Gulf states and has a huge stake in the Pakistani labour employed there. It should therefore ramp up its diplomatic efforts as well as use the media to make our Gulf allies more aware of how Modi, with all his deceptive smile, has unleashed a reign of violence against the helpless Muslims of India with the help of the RSS goons. Needless to say, the Gulf States are in a position to put pressure on Modi to change its obnoxious policy of discrimination and repression against the Muslims.