In India, saffron scarves have turned into a symbol of hatred and violence against Muslims. The orange color scarf was donned by Hindutva mobs as they heckled and harassed Muslim girls wearing scarves to school in Karnataka. This past week and month in India, anti-Muslim sentiment has increased to the point that experts are arguing that India is fully engaged in genocide.
The state sanctioning of discriminatory rhetoric has created an environment where Hindutva mobs feel justified in attacking Muslims. From state representatives advocating for the lynching of Muslims to various oppressive legislation in India (including the Citizenship Amendment Bill and the revoking of Articles 370 and 35A in the Indian Constitution), India, which some dub as the world’s “largest democracy,” is actively perpetuating genocidal rhetoric to its minority populatinos.
During a celebration of the birth of the deity Ram, thousands of Hindu nationalists and supremacists infiltrated Muslim neighborhoods inciting violence and fear. Middle East Eye reports that in the district of Khargone in Madya Pradhesh, at least 16 houses and 29 shops were demolished – majority owned by Muslims.
Various monks and Hindu leaders are calling for Hindus to arm themselves, as they call for the mass murder of Muslims. In Karnataka, Hindu nationalists have been calling for a boycott of Muslim fruit traders, taxi drivers, and halal stores.
Hindutva organizer Swami Prabodhanand said, “Just like Myanmar, the police, the army, and every Hindu must pick up arms and organise a cleansing [of Muslims]. Another speaker at a rally in December 2021, Sadhvi Annapurna said, “If you want to finish off their population then we are ready to kill them. Even if 100 of us are ready to kill 20 lakh (lakh=100,00) of them, then we will be victorious.”
In the rallies during the birth of Ram celebration, videos circulating across social media show men with saffron scarves climbing walls of mosques with swords and hockey sticks. Rioting has increased in different districts and provinces of India. Fazluddin Shaikh in Khargone said that a mosque was set on fire by a Hindu mob during the Ram Navmi procession.
India will continue to further itself in the stages of genocide – experts argue that it is at Stage 8: Persecution, following Stage 6: Polarization and Stage 7: Preparation. The state sanctioned rhetoric allows not only for the state to engage in discrimination, oppression, and genocide, but it creates an environment for the average person in India to operate as extensions of Hindu nationalism by harassing, intimidiating, lynching, and killing Muslims.