I wonder how many Pakistanis are aware of what happened to Indian Muslims residing in a village by the name of Atali, situated 50 miles from Delhi in Faridabad district Haryana, on the evening of May 25, 2015. The village has 1200 households and a population of about 7000 – Muslims numbering around 400.

The attack on Muslims residents of the village was hardly noticed by the Pakistan media. In India, newspapers did pick up the incident – interestingly enough, highlighting the element of “restraint” exercised by the Hindu mob that was “capable of doing much greater harm”.

I owe the information about the Atali mayhem to an article contributed to The Hindu by Satish Deshpande, who teaches sociology at the Delhi University. Mr. Deshpande visited Atali with two of his colleagues.

According to Deshpande, the Hindu mob attacked Muslim residents who were praying at a makeshift mosque that had been the subject of a dispute for several years and was declared by the courts rightly belonging to Muslims of the village. Let us read what Deshpande found, had happened on the fateful evening of May 2015:

“In a nearly three hour session of orchestrated violence, men and women were beaten, children terrorised, houses burnt and broken, property destroyed and livestock stolen. The local police stayed away during this time, returning only to escort the victims to the Ballabhgarh police station and the injured to hospital. The entire Muslim population of the village numbering about 400 people fled, and about 150 people including women and children were camping in the Ballabhgarh thana for a week. Although at least three persons were seriously injured, suffering severe burns, axe wounds and broken bones, no one was killed; and despite being beaten and manhandled, none of the women were raped….....”

 Further: “We walked around soot-blackened homes littered with the heartbreaking debris of devastated domesticity. The visible evidence supported the attackers’ claim of restraint, but only in the sense that the primary targets were the signs of upward mobility rather than lives and limbs. The homes and property of the two most prosperous Muslim families received maximum attention. About a dozen parked vehicles including cars, motorcycles and scooters, and a tractor and tempo were completely destroyed and had already been towed away. Valuable buffaloes and goats were stolen. Air conditioners, refrigerators, coolers, washing machines and gas stoves were smashed. Fancy furniture and show cases were burnt or broken. Tiled walls and floors were stripped, the tiles reduced to rubble, and the exposed brick surfaces left to look like poor people’s homes should. Burnt ceiling fans with drooping, fire-melted blades hanging from sooty roofs like macabre three-petalled flowers; a child’s school bag lying in a corner with charred books and notebooks showing through its open flaps; or cooking vessels in various stages of damage flung around on kitchen floors.”

In a most perceptive analysis of the “Atali model” with reference to the Gujrat massacres of Muslims in 2002, Deshpande subtly spells out how Hindutva is working to force Muslims in India in various ways to accept a subordinate status and adjust to the cultural traits and practices of the majority community. In Deshpande’s words: “This combination of the novel and the familiar in Atali invites us to ask if it represents a new refinement of the model of Hindutva that was inaugurated in the Gujarat riots of 2002. The famous “action-reaction” sequence of 2002 attempted to install a normalised anti-Muslim prejudice as the cornerstone of contemporary Hindutva. While Muslim-baiting is as old as Hindutva itself, the challenge was to normalise it, to legitimise it in the eyes of ordinary people to the point where it would become a self-evident truth. This is what the Gujarat model began to achieve by pulling off something unprecedented in independent India — a riot with mass killings and mass participation, but zero remorse… Above all, it was the first riot for which none of the major players has ever apologised.”

There have been many other violent anti Muslim incidents. Muzaffar Nagar riots of 2013 come to mind where besides 62 casualties, thousands fled from their homes with their lives badly shattered and who have yet to find homes and hearths. In another incident, a number of young Muslims were rounded up and shot by the police.

Here it will be relevant to refer to a lengthy article written by Mr. James Traub, contributing editor of the prestigious American magazine, Foreign Policy, on June 26, 2015, titled, ‘Is Modi’s India Safe For The Muslims: Hindu nationalism is on the rise in the world’s second most-populous Muslim country’.

A few excerpts: “This past March, a group of community activists in Aurangabad, an industrial city in central India, convened a morcha — a demonstration — to protest a series of blatantly anti-Muslim measures taken by the state government in Mumbai, which is controlled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)… India’s Muslims have noted every apparent straw in the wind. And there have been many of late. In March alone: Subramanian Swamy, a senior BJP leader from the southern state of Tamil Nadu, declared in a speech that mosques, unlike temples, are not holy places and thus can be demolished. Two days later, the BJP chief minister of the northern state of Haryana announced that the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu holy text, would become mandatory throughout the state… The binding force of secularism began to slip after Nehru’s death in 1964. In the late 1970s, his daughter, Indira Gandhi, began to cultivate the Hindu nationalist vote. Her son Rajiv played both sides of the communal spectrum, endorsing the language both of Hindu chauvinism and of the conservative Muslims who demanded a separate “family law” to govern their faith. Extremists from both religions staged an epic confrontation over a 16th-century mosque allegedly built on the site of a temple to the Hindu god Ram in the ancient city of Ayodhya. Destroying the Babri mosque and rebuilding the Ram temple became a great rallying cry for the RSS, which secular Indians generally regard as a quasi-fascist body prepared to use violence to achieve its goal of “purifying” India of non-Hindu elements. In 1992, mobs coordinated by RSS leaders dismantled the mosque brick by brick, leading to riots across India… Secularism promises equal treatment before the law, but not equal opportunity or, of course, equal outcomes. Muslims in Hindu-majority India are a disadvantaged minority. According to a 2013 report by the Rahman Committee, established by the government of Maharashtra in 2008 to examine the condition of Muslims in the state, 60 percent of Muslims there live below the poverty line, and 2 percent have graduated from college. They comprise less than 1 percent of the elite Indian Administrative Service in Maharashtra and only 4 percent of the state’s police force. Muslims nationwide have less access than the average Indian to credit.”

No comments from this columnist on the facts and observations cited above!