FOR dozens of Muslim women in India, the New Year has once again brought home the frightening realization that they are not safe, even within the four walls of their homes. On January 1, six months after a similar episode happened in July, more than 100 of them discovered they had been put up for sale in a fake online auction, along with their photos. and their personal information uploaded to a specially designed application. As on the previous occasion, the women targeted included human rights activists, journalists and other professionals. Among them was prominent actress Shabana Azmi, a 60-year-old mother of a missing Indian student and even Pakistani Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai. The Foreign Ministry on Tuesday condemned the incident, calling it “despicable and totally unacceptable harassment and insults against Muslim women”, while urging the international community to ensure the safety and security of religious minorities persecuted by a de facto regime of Hindu extremists. The app has since been taken down by the California platform GitHub (just as it shut down the app for the Muslim women auction last July) and Mumbai police have arrested three suspects.
Both incidents are evidence of the increase in “community trolling” of Muslim women by Hindutva supporters: neither virtual nor physical space is safe for minorities in India. Such tactics are part of Sangh Parivar’s broader campaign to demonize Muslims, to which the government led by Modi has given tacit approval through its persistent and perhaps strategic silence. Indeed, the purveyors of hate have become so emboldened by the state’s non-intervention position that a few weeks ago, Hindu extremists openly called for the genocide of Muslims in India, citing the “Rohingya model” to their supporters at Dharma Sansad held in Haridwar, a town only 150 km from the capital from where no expressions of censure have been issued. The ‘online auction’ is even more disturbing in a way as it once again highlights the toxic confluence of misogyny and Islamophobia that further fuels Hindu machismo in India today. ‘hui. However, this mindset is not only limited to Hindutva trolls, but also has deep roots in the government led by the BJP. Consider that after the removal of Article 370 which granted special status to Indian-occupied Kashmir, a BJP lawmaker remarked that it was an invitation for Hindus to marry Kashmiri women ” fair ”. The “auction” is a uglier manifestation of the same triumphalist mentality.
Posted in Dawn, January 6, 2022