The quarterly report of Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), a Washington DC based advocacy organisation established in 2002 by Muslim Americans of Indian descent, has been released in the month of October 2023. The report covers the anti-minority incidents that took place in India between the months of July and September.
The said report comprehensively provides the details of the many anti-Muslim and anti-Christian attacks that took place in the third quarter of the year 2023. The said report had been divided into four main parts. The attacks against both the religious minorities were covered separately by the report.
Persecution and discrimination against Muslims (Part one)
The first part of the report, titled ‘Persecution and Discrimination against Muslims’, provides a detailed version of the targeted attacks and Islamophobia that the Muslim community had to face, mostly by the hands of the majoritarian groups. The attacks covered in the portion include the reported cases of verbal abuse, physical abuse, harassment, lynching, discriminations, grievous hurt and even death caused.
Attacks on Muslims:
These incidents of anti-Muslim attacks have been reported from the length and breadth of the country. The cases included in the report were reported from the state of Uttarakhand (1), Karnataka (2), Uttar Pradesh (9), Telangana (1), Madhya Pradesh (3), Rajasthan (5), Assam (2), Jharkhand (1), Haryana (2), Delhi (1) Punjab (1) and Maharashtra (3).
July: This month saw the Muslim community being attacked in the beginning for celebrating Eid. During the last days of Eid celebration, Muslims saw harassment by Hindu women for selling juice while another mob of Hindu men accused and harassed a Muslim on the false allegations of cow slaughter. Notably, 2 cases of extreme police brutality and custodial torture resulting in the death of the men detained on false cases and without any due process of law were also reported. The month also saw cases of Muslim men being attacked by Hindu groups for no other reason than their religious identity. While in one such case the Muslim man was forced to lick the feet of the Hindu oppressors, another case was reported where the Muslim man was forced to chant ‘Jai Shree Ram’ and suffered physical abuse. Many other such cases were presented in the report for the month of July itself. Cases of moral policing, targeting and lynching based on rumours of theft, sexual harassment and rape of Muslim women were also reported.
In one case, in Assam’s Burha Chapori Wildlife Sanctuary on 17 July, a clash between the forest department officials and displaced Muslim residents who were returning to the sanctuary due to flooding in their makeshift settlements, resulted in the forest guards resorting to violence. The firing by the forest guards left one Muslim woman dead and 4 Muslims hospitalised.
July was also the month wherein a shocking incident of anti-Muslim killings had occurred. On 31 July, on the Jaipur-Mumbai Central Express train, a Railway Protection Force constable named Chetan Kumar Choudhary had opened fire, killing his superior officer, Assistant Sub-Inspector Tika Ram Meena, and three other Muslim passengers for their faith. A video of him giving an anti-Muslim speech standing next to the bleeding body of a victim and asking people to vote for Modi and Yogi had gone viral.
August: The month of August also saw enforcement authorities targeting Muslims and subjecting them to excessive force. In Rajasthan, one Muslim man had lost his life and two others were injured when a mob attacked them for ‘illegally’ chopping wood. The arrested included four forest officials. In the same month, a Muslim elderly couple was beaten to death with sticks as their son had ran away with a Hindu girl. At least 2 cases were reported where Muslim men were found dead, lynched and beaten due to their religious identity. The false narrative of ‘Love Jihad’ was also used to target Muslim men.
The incident of a Hindu teacher encouraging her students to slap a 7-year-old Muslim child from Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh had also been reported during late August. The said video, where the teacher had also made disparaging and stereotypical remarks against the Muslim community had caused an uproar. The teacher had made comments suggesting that his academic performance was influenced by his Muslim background. It is essential to note, that on September 29, the said teacher was arrested.
September: Many incidents of hate crimes were reported in the said month. In Satara, a conflict between the communities had result in a large Hindu mob attacking a mosque and forcing their way inside it with iron rods and batons. The mob then killed one man and caused severe injuries to at least fourteen others.
A protest against discrimination also saw the protesting students being arrested dragged and beaten in Punjab. The hijabs of Muslim female students were also forcibly removed. In three of the incidents included in the report for the month of September, young Muslim men were beaten to death. In one such incident that took place on 26 September in Delhi’s Nand Nagri area, a 26-year-old disabled Muslim man named Mohammed Israr died after a mob brutally attacked him. According to Israr’s father, Abdul Wajid, his son had eaten a religious offering, resulting in brutal mob violence.
Violence in Nuh:
The report also provides an overview of the communal violence that broke out in Muslim majority Nuh district of BJP-ruled Haryana state. A religious procession taken out by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal had met with stone pelting which had resulting in a deadly break out of communal violence, continuing for days, in many districts of Haryana. The trigger for violence were deemed to have been some threatening videos featuring the infamous cow vigilantes Monu Manesar and Bittu Bajrangi. Another trigger was the anti-Muslim hate speeches that had been delivered by the leaders of these fringe groups before taking out the procession.
The violence had continued for days, and resulted in six killings, injuries to dozens, and damage to hundreds of cars, homes, and places of worship. The aftermath saw the violence spreading and the Muslim community being openly targeted in the state by far-right extremists. Calls for violence against Muslims as well as their economic and social boycott were made. District panchayats had also taken out resolutions barring Muslim traders from entering their villages.
The report also highlighted the illegal demolitions without notices, arbitrary police raids and arrests and abuse of law that had followed wherein even minors were picked up by the police and kept in police custody in contravention to the established laws. These aforementioned acts and illegal crackdown by the state had led to a big proportion of impoverished Muslim migrant families fleeing from Haryana. The situation had become so dire that the Punjab and Haryana High Court had taken suo-moto cognizance of the demolitions and raised concerns about the ethnic cleansing of Muslims.
Anti-Muslim hate speech:
The report provides a number of instances between July and September where prominent far-right leaders had delivered anti-Muslim speeches with impunity. Most of the names mentioned in the report are repeat offenders who have been continuously indulging in spreading their divisive and partisan ideology.
July: Speakers such as Sudarshan News chairperson Suresh Chavhanke, Hindu Jagran Manch leader Kamal Gautam, far-right leader Samiksha Singh, Kalicharan Maharaj, Antarashtriya Hindu Parishad (AHP) leader Praveen Togadia, and Hindu Rashtra Sena leader Dhananjay Desai had delivered anti-Muslim and anti-minority hate speeches. The speeches consisted of disseminating divisive rhetoric, fear-mongering tactics, anti-Muslim instigating slurs, and conspiracy theories targeting Muslims. Not only leaders of fringe outfits, but also members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) targeted the Muslim community and delivered misleading speeches. On July 13, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma of Assam sparked controversy by attributing the rising vegetable prices in Guwahati to the Bengali-origin Muslim community, pejoratively referred to as ‘miyas’. Sarma claimed that ‘miyas’ charged higher prices compared to Assamese traders. Furthermore, he encouraged Assamese youth to compete vigorously with ‘miyas’ in business.
August: In the beginning of the month, protest rallies were organised by the VHP and Bajrang Dal in regards to the communal violence that had unfolded during their religious procession in Nuh. Rampant hate speeches had flown during these rallies. In one such rally, a demonstrator had issued a warning to local shopkeepers to dismiss any Muslim employees or face potential boycotting. In another one of their rallies, participants had chanted anti-Muslim slogans such as “Desh ke gaddaron ko goli maaron saalon ko” (“shoot the traitors of the country”) and “Allah kehne nahi dena, ek bhi mullah rehene nahi dena” (“we won’t let them say Allah, and we won’t let Muslims live”). Unauthorised Mahapanchayats had also taken place during the month in Haryana where open threats against Muslims were made in the presence of police.
September: The report provides that a disturbing series of incidents unfolded across various locations in India where continuous hate speeches were delivered from September 21-24. As per the report, on September 21, a Hindu far-right leader delivered an inflammatory speech event, demonizing Muslims and calling for their ostracisation. The following day, a Bajrang Dal leader issued threats against Muslims, asserting that his organization would not tolerate the presence of mosques and Muslim shrines in India. On September 24, Hindu Raksha Dal leader Pinky Chaudhry delivered hate speeches against Muslims while employing anti-Muslim slurs and attempting to incite hostility against the Muslim community.
The IAMC report also presents the data and findings provided by the report of US-based journalist Raqib Hameed Naik which had documenting all verified instances of hate speech events organized by Hindu far-right groups against India’s Muslim minorities in the first half of 2023. The said report revealed that in the first 181 days of 2023, there were 255 recorded instances of hate speech gatherings targeting Muslims across 17 states in India, out of which 205 (80%) had been made in BJP-ruled stated and union territories. Furthermore, the said report had found that 51% of all the hate speech gatherings featured anti-Muslim conspiracy theories such as “love jihad,” “land jihad,” “mazar jihad,” “halal jihad,” and others. A concerning 33% of all the gatherings explicitly called for violence against Muslims. About 11% of events included explicit calls for Hindus to boycott Muslims. Disturbingly, 4% of all the events featured hate-filled and sexist speeches explicitly targeting Muslim women. Nearly 12% of events featured calls to arms.
Illegal Demolitions and Evictions:
The IAMC report lists eight incidents of illegal demolitions and evictions that took place between the three months. In the cases of illegal demolitions, complaints from the Hindutva organisations to the state administrations would lead to either sealing or demolition of mosques and other properties. In most of these cases, illegal construction or encroachment of government land or railway land would be citied. Many historical mosques and shrines were razed down under the garb of illegal construction.
Cases of forced closure of meat selling shops, especially in the state of Uttar Pradesh, would also surface. The police administration, without any mention of law applicable, would close down meat shops or prohibit them from selling meat during Hindu festivals.
Eviction drives would also be carried out under the garb of clearing encroachments from government land or railway land. On July 22, the administration in Uttarakhand’s Nainital City had conducted a demolition operation, bulldozing multiple structures with the assistance of six JCB machines. Even the Uttarakhand High Court had not come to the rescue of the people facing eviction and it was only after the Supreme Court had gotten involved that the eviction had been stayed. On the same day, 210 families residing in Nanke Daranga were accused by the forest department in Assam of ‘encroaching’ upon Daranga forest land.67 The notices issued by the department ordered the villagers to vacate the land within 15 days, citing illegal occupation and the threat of appropriate action under forest laws.
Other than the authorities, fringe groups on multiple occasions took hammers to the Muslims religious places and other structures and committed vandalism. Many such incidents have been documented by the report.
Ten cases of cow vigilantism have been recorded and presented by the IAMC report. From being attacked by swords by a group of cow vigilantes under Bittu Bajrangi, facing threats, harassment and abuses by members of VHP and Bajrang Dal to having their shops raided and closed illegally and forcefully, the so-called cow vigilantes wreaked havoc at the Muslim community shop owners and cattle traders. In addition to this, mob lynchings based on suspicions of cattle theft, illegal cattle trading/transporting and cow slaughter added to the fear faced by the Muslim community.
Persecution and discrimination against Christians (Part two)
This part includes incidents of anti-Christian attacks have been reported in the three mentioned months from different parts of the country. The attacks covered in the portion include the reported cases of verbal abuse, physical abuse, harassment, lynching, discriminations, grievous hurt and even death caused. Details of the incidents where false allegations of forced religious conversion that are used as a justification by the majoritarian groups to harass Christians is also given. The cases included in the report were reported from the state of Maharashtra (1), Uttar Pradesh (4), Madhya Pradesh (4) and Delhi (1).
July: The month of July had begun with the video of a Christian principal of a school, wearing torn clothes, being assaulted and chased by a mob of people donning a saffron scarf in Maharahstra. Claims were made by Bajrang Dal and some parents that the Christians principal had allegedly forced students to recite Christian prayers and installed CCTV cameras in the girls’ toilet. However, subsequent investigations by the Pimpri Chinchwad police found no evidence of forced prayer and clarified that the CCTVs were not inside the toilets but in common areas.
At least two cases of arrests of pastors and other Christian people being arrested based on the farce of forced religious conversions have been listed in the report. In all these cases, members of the Christian community were abused by Hindutva extremists. Even a Christian orphanage was abruptly shut down due to allegations of religious conversion attempts. Due to the bogey of religious conversion, Christian traders also faced prohibition from entering villages.
August: Multiple incidents of community gathers being disturbed, vandalism, destroying bibles, harassment and even sexual assault have been report in this part at the hands individuals associated with extremist Hindutva groups. The report also provides the details of an incident where the law enforcement authorities themselves in committing discriminatory and intrusive acts. In late August, police in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, issued intrusive questionnaires to around 40 churches, requesting information on Christian activities over the past three months. The questionnaires covered various aspects, including Christian objectives, suspicious conversions, NGO operations, and foreign funding.
September: More incidents of arrests under the allegations of illegal conversions have been provided in the report. Towards the end of September, Hindu extremists stormed St. Mary’s Convent School in Deori, Madhya Pradesh, accusing the school of disrespecting the Hindu god Ganesh and demanding a police investigation.
Violence in Manipur: A separate section under the same part had been dedicated to the violence engulfed state of Manipur. A brief overview of the clashes and tensions that existed between the Meitei community, predominantly Hindu, and the Kuki-Zo community, Christian tribal groups, has been provided. On May 3, after the Kuki-Zo community took out a protest rally against the Manipur High Court judgment on the inclusion of the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribes, the ethnic differences exacerbated and violence broke out in the state. This violence has This has resulted in a large number of deaths, mostly from the Kuki ethnic community, acts of sexual violence, extrajudicial killings, extensive property destruction, torture, and the forced displacement of approximately 60,000 people. Bouts of violence have been detailed in the report.
Jammu and Kashmir (Part three)
The third part provides a glance into the affairs of the (now) Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Many incidents of injustices at the hands of the administration and law enforcement officers have also been highlighted. The report further details the curb on dissent and the gag on press freedom.
The report details how, in late July, the Indian government suspended the passports of several Kashmiris, including journalists and critics, in a move viewed as an effort to suppress dissent in the region. Approximately ten individuals, both in Kashmir and abroad, received emails citing Section 10(3) of The Passports Act, alleging they posed a threat to Indian security. However, as per the report, they claimed there were no charges against them. The report also alleges that the police of Jammu and Kashmir is indulging in monitoring and tracking the social media of those individuals and entities involved in activities classified as “anti-national” on these platforms.
In the month of August, the Kashmiri administration removed works by award-winning writers, Basharat Peer and Agha Shahid Ali, from M.A English curricula at government-run universities, alleging “secessionist ideology.” The same move attracted the concerns of the Human Rights Watch over the escalating repression. The report provides that the HRW asserted that Indian authorities are “restricting free expression, peaceful assembly, and other basic rights,” and that “repressive policies and failure to investigate and prosecute alleged security force abuses have increased insecurity. Following this, on September 1, Kashmiri socio-political activist Waqar H. Bhatti was arrested due to a complaint made by a BJP leader, who had accused him of inciting religious discord through his critical remarks. He was later granted interim bail but faces charges under sections 153 A, 500, and 506 of the Indian Penal Code.
Recommendations (Part four)
The report provides the following recommendations-
- The Indian government should prioritise enacting and enforcing robust legislation that specifically protects the rights of religious minorities, addresses hate speech, communal violence, and targeted attacks, holding perpetrators accountable for their actions.
- The Indian government should ensure that the right to freedom of religion is protected and available to each citizen without fear of persecution or coercion.
- Independent oversight bodies should be established to monitor and report cases of abuse and discrimination against religious minorities as well as to address the issue of human rights violations and ensure impartial investigations
- The government should immediately take decisive action to halt the violence against Kuki-Zomi tribals in Manipur. The centre and state governments should enforce stringent measures to protect ethnic minorities and ensure their safety.
- The Union government must pass a national anti-lynching bill to protect religious minorities from Hindu militias and cow vigilante groups.
- BJP-led state governments must uphold every citizen’s right to a safe home and immediately stop bulldozing Muslim homes, livelihoods, and places of worship in the name of anti-encroachment drives.
- The international community should engage with the Indian government and express concern over the treatment of religious minorities.
The complete report can be read here: