By Bernie McAdam
THE RECENT clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Leicester are at odds with the harmonious history of these communities that have worked and lived together for many years.
A close look below the surface of events will show the bigoted and poisonous hand of Hindutva nationalists at work in spreading their hate and violence.
In India, Hindutva is the ideology which argues that non Hindus may live in India so long as they accept the superiority of Hindu culture. The current Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi espouses this belief and he has a long history of involvement in Islamophobic violence. As a younger Chief Minister of Gujarat, he is widely regarded as instigating the Hindu pogroms which saw over a 1,000 Muslims murdered. His background is in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a paramilitary Hindu nationalist group aligned with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and originally modelled on Hitler’s Nazis.
BJP/RSS influence and provocations in Britain’s Hindu community has recently grown and there is plenty of evidence of this in the Leicester clashes. Tensions had been building for over four months. Footage after the India/Pakistan cricket match revealed Hindu chants of ‘Pakistan Murdabad’ (death to Pakistan) and ‘Jai Shri Ram’ (hail Lord Ram), a term used by anti Muslim extremists in India. The clashes eventually culminated in a march of hundreds of hooded men organised by Hindu nationalists. They attempted to march through predominantly Muslim areas which predictably drew a defensive response from Muslims.
The South Asia Solidarity Group (SASG) also reports that many Hindu supremacists ‘were brought to Leicester from Wembley, Harrow and elsewhere in coaches’ for the march. The SASG, which has long campaigned against caste discrimination and racism, organised a protest outside the Indian High Commission in London against Hindutva violence. In response the High Commission issued a statement condemning attacks on ‘the Indian community’ and ‘symbols of Hindu religion’. This completely ignores the targetting of Muslim areas as you would expect from a branch of Modi’s office.
It is also a fact that the Tories are up to their necks in collaboration with the BJP and Modi, Priti Patel called both ‘sister parties’. Back in 2014 Patel wrote a letter complimenting the leader of the RSS! Boris Johnson’s alliance with Modi involved closer security ties and discussions on a trade deal. The relevance of this lies in the British government’s promotion and tolerance of those with an ideology that is openly Islamophobic. Little wonder that BJP/RSS have had the green light to organise in Britain!
Not that Labour has fared any better. When Corbyn correctly attacked Modi over the Indian government’s assault on Kashmir there was a hysterical reaction from Hindu supporters of the Indian government over here (some within the Labour Party too) with the Labour right pitching in too. Unfortunately, Corbyn backtracked with even Labour councillors in Leicester attacking him for being anti Hindu, as ridiculous a claim as his anti semitic slurs. Starmer predictably has written to the pro-Modi Hindu Forum Britain with a view to rebuilding relations with Hindus under the guise of pandering to Hindutva.
The task now is to build South Asian solidarity against those who would seek to divide the communities on the basis of religious hatred and racism. We must look to the proud experience of the 1960’s, 70’s, etc when Sikh, Muslim and Hindu activists built self defence organisations to fight back against racist and fascist attacks. There can be no truck with a poisonous ideology like Hindutva which seeks to divide South Asian workers from one another. An ideology which is fittingly tolerated by Tories and Labour alike demonstrating yet again that only socialist internationalism can unite all workers in their fight against the pernicious evil of racism, sectarianism and the system that spawns it—capitalism.