Sectarian tensions have been boiling throughout Indian cities for decades — and it seems like those sentiments are about to erupt in violence unlike anything the country has seen so far. One man couldn’t even make his way home from work without running into one Delhi battle royale. Kaushar Ali came across two groups of Hindu and Muslim followers who were blocking the street as they fought, throwing rocks and hurling curses.
Ali is Muslim, but he didn’t join the fray. Instead, he called on the police. Officers quickly arrived at the scene only to brutally assault him in the process of breaking up the mob. One of the men who they struck died after spending two nights in critical condition at a nearby hospital.
Ali described the confusion and barbarism he experienced at the scene. “The police were toying with us,” he said.
Police said the opposite. According to officers on the scene, they “saved” Ali from the other protestors. And of course the violence shows no sign of abating even during the severity of the novel coronavirus outbreak that has put the whole of India on lockdown.
This is hardly the first time in modern history during which groups of people have turned to violence in order to have their voices heard, minority or otherwise. Surely, it isn’t the first time these groups have accused police of inciting even worse violence. The 1992 Los Angeles riots broke out shortly after the trial of four police officers accused of beating Rodney King — who was African American — to death. They were exonerated. For at least six days, there was widespread panic and violence in the city.
Even today, the group Black Lives Matter (BLM) has shown that police routinely get away with violence and murder perpetuated against minority groups.
Elsewhere, Muslims are also being victimized in China. Massive “re-education camps” have forced thousands — or even millions — of Muslims into a routine of psychological indoctrination that shows no sign of ending. Chinese government officials have downplayed reports regarding these camps or the torturous methods used during interrogations.
Many human rights groups have accused Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of helping to perpetuate the cycle of violence in Delhi by doing little to prevent the police under his command from stopping. There are no real consequences.
“There’s a method to [Modi’s] madness,” says one Muslim activist, Umar Khalid. “The government wants to bring the entire Muslim community to their knees, to beg for their lives and beg for their livelihoods. You can read it in their books. They believe India’s Muslims should live in perpetual fear.”
Modi, of course, has done little more than tweet his opposition to the violence.