The Indian Army is receiving flak from across the country after soldiers forced worshippers at a mosque in IIOJK to chant Hindu slogans. The incident at a mosque in Pulwama saw Army soldiers, led by an officer, burst in at Fajr time, vandalised the mosque, interrupted the muezzin as he gave the azaan, and demanded that he chant “Jai Shri Ram,” a common Hindu slogan but one that is also strongly associated with violent Hindutva groups. The soldiers had also thrashed several villagers and made them chant Hindu slogans “in a chorus,” according to eyewitness accounts.
A similar incident was reported at a nearby mosque, reportedly by troops led by a “drunk” major. In this incident, the major also warned people against sacrificing any animals for Eidul Azha without first taking his permission. The Indian Army has still not formally commented on the incidents, and local police and the army are still just investigating, according to their official statements. However, an officer — some reports say it was a major — involved has reportedly been “removed” after the commanding officer, who is of lieutenant general rank, came in person to apologise to local leaders. It is worth noting, however, that the reports did not clarify which incident the major was involved in, or even what removal entailed. Also, given that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi categorically denied discrimination based on religion in India just a few days ago, we would hope that the culprits are given the highest possible punishment. Unfortunately, as has been the case several times during Modi’s premiership, the culprits are more likely to get awards and medals.
Anyone made a ‘fall guy’ will suffer only temporarily for international consumption, and can be assured of election tickets from the BJP and other far-right parties. In fact, Modi’s closest ally, Home Minister Amit Shah, was actually touring IIOJK when the incidents took place. He made no effort to condemn the incidents and may well vocally support them, given his track record.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2023.