Hindutva found new face, feet under BJP leadership: speakers

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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari on Tuesday said that the extremist ideology of Hindutva has found a new face and feet under the leadership of Indian ruling party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), revealing the state’s true face while unravelling its claim of secularism in the process.

Addressing the international seminar ‘Hindutva Policies and the State of Minorities in India’, here at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), the minister said that in India, the lower caste Hindus and minorities like Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and Dalits were being discriminated and treated as inferior citizens of the state.

The full-day event was also addressed by Pakistani dalit leader Senator Gian Chand, Dr Akis Kalaitzidis (USA), Dr Nitasha Kaul (UK), Indian Occupied Kashmir (IoK) journalist Murtaza Shibli, Dr Mujeeb Afzal, Ambassador (r) Jalil Abbas Jilani, Ambassador (r) Zamir Akram, Dr Waqar Masood and Dr Asma Khwaja.

Shireen Mazari said that the plight of Muslims of IoK, where the Kashmiri struggle of independence was being repressed by all means while giving it a colour of religious extremism issue, was particularly a major concern for Pakistan, whereas, in reality, it was about the struggle for their right of self-determination.

“Even as per the UN resolutions, Jammu and Kashmir was an occupied state, and from the ongoing suppression to the attempts of changing the region’s demographics, everything that is being done in Kashmir should be seen as a war crime,” said the federal minister.

Murtaza Shibli emphasised the need to develop a nuanced understanding of Hindutva and criticised the understanding that conflates Hindutva with Hindu faith. He highlighted the dangers of the Hindutva project that wants to exclude and excise more than 200 million Muslims from India through forcible conversion or eviction and displacement.

“This would endanger the security of the whole region,” he said while suggesting granting more rights to the minorities as well as a conciliatory approach from Pakistan.

Shibli praised Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan for reaching out to the Pakistani minorities to enhance their participation in nation building and normalising their existence.

The speakers were also critical of the UN’s role over Kashmir’s issue, maintaining that while UN resolutions for East Timor were identical to the ones on Kashmir, the latter was being neglected in execution merely for being a Muslim minority.

Moreover, Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) Executive President Khalid Rahman presented the context of the seminar maintaining that the need of studying the rising phenomenon of Hindutva had increased manifold under the present Indian regime as the support and state machinery being provided to extremist forces by the government was a matter of concern for the whole region.

A book titled Hindutva: Rising Extremism in India, documenting the speeches and papers on the same topic presented by the speakers in a similar international seminar held last, was also launched and presented to Dr Mazari during the session.

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