People & Power investigates India’s Hindu fundamentalists and their influence on the country’s government.
Since Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist and leader of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), became prime minister of India in May 2014, groups of radical Hindu nationalists have been terrorising religious minorities across the country.
According to a leading Christian rights group, at least 600 such attacks took place between Modi’s election and August of this year. One-hundred-and forty-nine of these assaults were against Christians; the rest were targeted at the country’s Muslim community.
The attacks, say critics, are being orchestrated by radical groups affiliated to Hindu nationalist and political pressure group: the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Prime Minister Modi is a lifelong member of the RSS and the backing of its members was crucial in helping his BJP party win the 2014 election. Since then, emboldened by the result, Modi’s most extreme nationalist supporters have routinely taken to the streets, using violence and intimidation to press their claim for a purely Hindu India.
Muslims have been forced to convert to Hinduism, homes burnt down and people even murdered for allegedly consuming beef; cows having special status in the Hindu faith.
Hindu nationalist summer camps for girls take place across India, all operated by an organisation called the Durga Vahini [Al Jazeera]
Meanwhile, Hindu nationalists have been rewriting school textbooks in some states and holding training camps for teenage boys and girls in an apparent attempt to inculcate children into their cause.
We asked Indian filmmaker and journalist Mandakini Gahlot, herself a Hindu, to go in search of those who want a purely Hindu nation and find out what their resurgence means for the future of the world’s most populous secular democracy.
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