Mar 11, 2016 14:50 UTC
  • BJP extremists trying to strip Indian Muslims of their vote

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu extremist party has pledged to strip millions of Muslim of vote in the upcoming provincial elections in the eastern state of Assam.

According to the media reports, in a series of recent campaign rallies in the remote state of Assam, officials of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claimed that the party would try to bar what they called Muslims of Bangladeshi origin from voting, which is scheduled to be held in April.

Assam has the second highest percentage of Muslims in India. Muslims, including those who migrated since the partition of the country in 1947, make up some 35 percent of the state’s population.

Reacting to the developments, local Muslim leaders have charged the BJP with polarizing the election campaign in a bid to form the provincial government. The BJP has also been denounced for not targeting millions of Hindus who emigrated from East Pakistan, now called Bangladesh, and gained Indian citizenship.

Critics say the BJP’s plan risks re-igniting communal tensions that have led to deadly clashes between Hindus and Muslims in the past in Gujarat in 2002.

The Chief Minister at that time, Narendra Modi, has been accused of initiating and condoning the violence, as have police and government officials who allegedly directed the rioters and gave lists of Muslim-owned properties to them. According to the independent sources, more than 2,000 Muslims were killed, and there were large instances of rape, children being burned alive, and widespread looting and destruction of Muslim properties.

While officially classified as a communalist riot, the events of 2002 have been described as a pogrom by many scholars, with some commentators saying that the attacks had been planned and were well orchestrated by the Narendra Modi and other Gujarat State officials.

Other independent observers have stated that these events had met the "legal definition of genocide", and called it an instance of state terrorism.

Police records say that 298 Muslim shrines and 205 mosques were damaged during the riots, and unofficial estimates put the death toll closer to 5,000, with Muslims forming the majority.