“The Holocaust did not start with the gas chambers.” It started with hate speech. It started with propaganda. It started with dehumanization of a group of people and incitement to violence against them. If we are ever to prevent the crime from occurring, we need to act to address the hate speech and propaganda that, if not addressed and neutralized, may result in genocide. Recent reports suggest that such hate speech and propaganda is at increase in India, where Muslims minorities are the target.
On January 17, 2022, Indian authorities charged Hindu monk Yati Narsinghanand Giri with inciting religious violence against Muslims in the Hindu-majority country. The case refers to an incident in December 2022, when Giri and other leaders are said to have called on Hindus to arm themselves for “a genocide” against Muslims during a three-day conference of right-wing supporters and other religious leaders in Uttarakhand, India.
Reports suggests that during the conference, Pooja Shakun Pandey, a senior member of the right-wing Hindu Mahasabha political party, said: “If 100 of us become soldiers and are prepared to kill 2 million (Muslims), then we will win ... protect India, and make it a Hindu nation.”
The charges against Giri follow a petition that sought to prosecute several Hindu religious leaders and India’s Supreme Court issuing a notice to a northern Himalayan state, the Uttarakhand state, that it would investigate the case. The petition was filed by retired Judge Anjana Prakash and stated that these Hindu religious leaders who spoke at the December 2021 conference “pose a grave threat not just to the unity and integrity of our country but also endanger the lives of millions of Muslim citizens.”
The December 2021 conference where participants called for other Hindus to arm themselves and kill Muslims in the country, and to establish a purely Hindu-nation is a warning one cannot ignore. One cannot ignore it as this is not the first, and will not be the last time we hear of such incitement to violence against Muslims in India. Indeed, recent years have seen several incidents that should have raised the alarm, and should have been monitored and analyzed along the lines of the serious risk of genocide and other atrocity crimes. These incidents include the government’s systematic discrimination against the Muslim minority in India, incidents of Hindu mobs attacking Muslims with many such attacks enjoying impunity that begets further crime against Muslim minorities, and the widespread promotion of exclusionary ideologies that portray Muslim minorities as the other.