Violence has broken out in many parts of India amidst protests against the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Bill, provoking an extreme response from the far-right Hinduvita government.
The bill, promoted as offering a faster path to citizenship for non-Muslim migrants, has been criticised for its ostracisation of 200 million Muslims living in India, promoting division between immigrant communities, ending the secular state and it has been identified as racist and Islamophobic.
Violence has been seen in New Delhi, where at least three buses and other vehicles were set ablaze and more than 50 protesters were reportedly injured. The demonstration at Jamia Millia Islamia University saw widespread police brutality as police stormed the library building and both beat and tear-gassed predominantly Muslim students.
The violence comes amidst ever increasingly alarming rhetoric from the far-right Narendra Modi government, including direct calls for ethnic cleansing.
BJP leader Rajeshwar Singh has called for Muslims and Christians to be “wiped out” in India by the end of 2021, asserting that “this is the pledge taken by my colleagues. This is our pledge.”
“Muslims and Christians will be wiped out of India by December 31, 2021.”Rajeshwar Singh
The latest call to violence is not the first by Singh, having called for ethnic cleansing for many years. These calls are now, however, becoming ever more mainstream under a Hinduvita government emboldened by international silence over their genocidal policies in Kashmir
“Our target is to make India a Hindu Rashtra by 2021. The Muslims and Christians don’t have any right to stay here. So they would either be converted to Hinduism or forced to run away from here”Rajeshwar Singh, 2014
The calls for ethnic cleansing were echoed by many BJP supporters online.
The protests have seen Indian police engaging in widespread violence across the country, with incidents of criminal damage, assault, arson and murder all being reported since the beginning of the protests that began in northeastern India, spreading to Bhopal, Jaipur, Ladakh, Kerala, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Lucknow.
Videos widely shared across social media have shown police beating peaceful protesters with batons and sticks, including continuous assaults to grounded and wounded civilians.
Officially six people have been killed since the beginning of the protests five days ago, with the true death toll said to be higher.