All eyes were fixed on Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, making his Independence Day speech. Speaking on the revocation of special constitutional status of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) Modi exclaimed, “The spirit of one nation, one constitution has become a reality now”. Perhaps, he forgot to add the other emerging reality i.e. “One Religion”.

This religion is Hinduism. Because for Modi “One Nation” never meant a pluralistic society comprising Hindus alongside Muslims, Christians and adherents of other faiths that form India’s body politic. Rather Modi’s vision of “One Nation” is an India where only Hindus have exclusive rights to life and liberty. The non-Hindus in general and Muslims in particular must either convert, or find some other place to live in.

“Musalman k do hi sthaan, Pakistan ya qabristan” (A Muslim has only two abodes, graveyard or Pakistan) is a popular slogan among nationalist Hindus belonging to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)- the ruling BJP’s ideological parent and an extremist right-wing Hindu nationalist organization. In India, Muslims must even put up with a social status inferior to cows which are regarded as holy by the Hindus.

The annulment of Kashmir’s special status is only the latest stride towards realizing the dream of a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu nation). The project of achieving a Hindu-only India had begun much earlier, even before India became independent. And its most celebrated champion is Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.

Savarkar espoused the radical ideology of Hindutva which entails a belief in Hindu superiority and has little, if any, tolerance for the followers of other faiths. Modi described Savarkar as a man who “epitomizes courage, patriotism and an unflinching commitment to a strong India”. He also praised him for inspiring people toward the cause of “nation building”. For Savarkar, the word nation was synonymous with ‘Hindus’ and he spent most of his life inculcating (radical) nationalistic Hindu values in his followers.

Today, the “Sangh Parivar”, a family of extremist Hindu nationalist organizations led by the RSS, is preoccupied with translating Savarkar’s dream into reality. The Sangh is regarded as the chief architect behind what is being described as the “Saffronization of India”. Its followers, overwhelmed with a missionary zeal to transform India into an exclusive home for Hindus, have dispersed into every nook and corner of the country chanting slogans of Ram and pouring down their wrath on minority communities that refuse to submit to their calls. Some of these right-wing Hindu organizations operate as paramilitary groups. Young girls are also given militant training. The fear and hatred of minorities especially Muslims is what keeps them motivated to learn martial skills and this fear is instilled through falsified and distorted versions of history- particularly the era of Muslim rule in India. These foot-soldiers are geared towards a single goal: elimination of India’s minorities.

By revoking Kashmir’s special status, the BJP is only speeding up a process which had begun long time ago. After all, the constitutional autonomy granted to IOK was a major hurdle in the Hindutva brigade’s quest for achieving complete Hindu domination of India. Now non-Kashmiris (primarily Hindus) will be able to purchase land and settle permanently in the valley gradually leading to a demographic change, exactly what BJP wants. They can do so without any fear because the Indian government is on their side. In fact, New Delhi is always there to support the Hindus even if it means remaining silent on the rape of a Muslim child by a Hindu gang.

The cold response from the authorities and local Hindus to the rape and murder of 8-year old Asifa Bano, a Muslim girl hailing from Kashmir, led a writer for the New York Times to lament: “There was no empathy for the 8-year-old girl. It was as if she barely registered as a human being, as if her life didn’t count except to serve as a target.” Two ministers belonging to the BJP even participated in the rally held in support of the accused.

Despite these bitter realities, India’s embrace of fascism is not a recent phenomenon. It did not begin with Modi nor would it end with him. Nonetheless, this movement has received a major impetus under the BJP regime. Violence against minorities has increased. Incidents of Cow vigilantism- the torture and killing of Muslims on allegations of cow slaughter- have been widely reported since BJP came into power.

The BJP government does, however, deserve credit for unmasking India’s façade of secularism and revealing its true (Hindu) identity. Thanks to the Indian nationalists’ overt romance with Hindutva, the world will no longer be fooled by Bollywood films that project Hindustan as a nation of nations.

And neither would there be any doubts expressed over the validity of the two-nation theory and reasons behind Muslims’ demand for a separate homeland in 1947. The BJP and its allies have themselves made clear the raison d’etre behind Pakistan even to those who had rejected the idea of Pakistan in 1947. By curtailing the rights of minorities and subjecting them to inhumane treatment, India is sowing the seeds of its own disintegration. A people cannot be subdued with force and violence forever. Wouldn’t persecution of Muslims cause other minorities in India to be wary about their own future in Hindustan? Wouldn’t the Christians, Sikhs and Dalits, already facing the onslaught of Hindu nationalists, fear themselves to be next on the hit-list of Sangh Parivar?

As the radicals push their country towards a Hindu state, the minorities have been left staggering in search of survival. Modi’s pretension of “One Nation” will neither hide their sense of deprivation nor assuage their feelings of alienation in an India that is fast becoming Hindustan.A