AS Hindutva ideologues have moved from the fringes of Indian society to the centre of power, this anti-Muslim ideology is now being ‘exported’ to foreign shores. A recent incident in the US state of New Jersey created an uproar when a bulldozer — festooned with the picture of the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, who doubles as a radical Hindu holy man — participated in an Indian independence day parade.
The bulldozer has been used to terrorise Muslim communities by demolishing homes in India. The hate is spreading, with the latest ugly manifestation of Hindutva in foreign climes occurring in the British city of Leicester. The city has been on edge since the Aug 28 Asia Cup match between Pakistan and India, when fans of the latter reportedly shouted ‘death to Pakistan’. The crisis escalated after some 200 men staged an aggressive march in the Midlands city chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’.
Indian Muslims are familiar with this refrain; what is supposed to be a religious exclamation has been transformed by the Sangh Parivar into a battle cry against Muslims. Members of the Muslim community have staged counter protests, and local police say they have arrested 47 individuals in connection with the disturbances. According to the Muslim Council of Britain, an advocacy group, this is part of a “series of provocations” which have included chanting outside mosques, as well as targeting Muslim homes and businesses.
These grim developments indicate that Hindutva now also poses a significant threat to communal harmony in the West. Illustrating how serious the threat is, members of the Democratic Party in New Jersey have asked the American government to investigate US-based Hindutva outfits as “domestic branches” of “foreign hate groups”. Western governments must not underestimate the threat that outfits connected to the Sangh Parivar pose to their domestic security. Just as these states keep a vigilant eye on Muslim extremists, pro-Hindutva fanatics must also be watched to stop them from creating communal problems in the West.
Moreover, numerous West-based charities linked to the Sangh Parivar need to be investigated to ensure they are not funnelling funds to India that help finance anti-Muslim hatred. Progressive Hindu groups in the US have spoken out against Hindutva mischief in that country. Indeed, to defeat the designs of fanatics, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh community leaders need to work together to prevent the poison of communalism from further infecting the diaspora.