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Is Uttarakhand becoming another ‘Hindutva’ laboratory on the lines of Gujarat ?

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Is Uttarakhand becoming another ‘Hindutva’ laboratory on the lines of Gujarat ?


Dehradun, Feb 12

Is Uttarakhand state becoming the latest laboratory of extreme ‘Hindutva’ politics espoused and nurtured by the ruling ‘Sangh Parivar’ on the lines of Gujarat state? The growing ‘Islamophobia’ and targeting of Muslim minority community in the state since 2017 and the recent violence at Haldwani leading to death of five persons in police firing on February 8 following demolition of a mosque and madrassa point towards making the Hindu upper caste majority state into another Gujarat. The deliberate targeting of Muslims since the advent of Hinduta government at the centre in 2014 and state government in 2017 in Uttarakhand is on similar familiar lines as seen in Gujarat.

The curfew in the violence hit Haldwani has not yet been lifted when reports of calls of ouster of ‘outsiders’ from Dharchula town of Pithoragarh district has come in following case of elopement of two allegedly minor girls with two Muslim boys from Bareilly. The girls were recovered and the youth have been arrested by the police. A procession was taken out by BJP and other right wing organisations on February 12 at Dharchula, similar to the one seen at Purola in Uttarkashi district in May 2023 following allegations of allurement.

Following the Purola Incident last year, the right wing organisations had given threats and warnings to Muslims to leave the city by June 15 accusing them of indulging in ‘Love Jehad’, a term coined by ‘Sangh Parivar’ meaning an organised attempt by Muslims to lure Hindu girls to Islam. Posters were pasted on the shops owned by Muslims and some of them marked with black cross mark, a reminder of Nazi era Germany, forcing many of them to flee. However, following the intervention of Nainital High court,  against holding of ‘Mahapanchayats’ by Hindus as well as Muslims, the matter was diffused. The Muslims also returned to open their shops and businesses.

After isolated incidents since 2017 where Muslims were targeted individually, since mid- 2021 following rapid change of Chief Ministers by ruling BJP and advent of Pushkar Singh Dhami as State Chief Minister, there has been deliberate attempts by the state government to malign and vilify the minority Muslim community.

The ruling BJP had already successfully tested the “Gujarat” formula of creating scare of Muslims amongst the upper caste dominated Hindu majority state of Uttarakhand  by reversing the poll trends and winning the 2022 state assembly elections in March 2022. Even before the elections in September 2021, a scare was created of ‘Land Jehad’ was created and even the district civil and police officials were ordered to investigate the charge that Muslims are buying and ‘invading’ hills of Uttarakhand. Nothing came out of these allegations of ‘Land Jehad’ but put the tottering BJP on a firm political footing in the 2022 assembly elections.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had created a record by coming back to power again in the hill state of Uttarakhand in the state assembly polls of 2022 by breaking the myth of alternately sharing power after every five years with Congress party since the formation of the state. The party had scored a decent victory by winning 47 seats despite the fact that the party had it’s back to the wall due to massive anti-incumbency, non-performance resulting in change of it’s three Chief Ministers within a span of few months in the last year before the state assembly polls.

It was not the performance of the BJP government which did them in but the highly charged communal campaign and appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi which worked for the saffron party. The party had to change three chief ministers in the run up to the state assembly elections due to their non-performance.

Apart from the appeal of the BJP’s narrative of robust nationalism in an upper caste Hindu dominant state of Uttarakhand, having a large number of service personnel and ex-servicemen, the highly virulent communal anti-Muslim campaign by the party did help them in the polls. The campaign which was carried out by the state party leaders, workers and RSS functionaries was finely supported by party big wigs including the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister.

In a state, where nearly each house has a youth serving in the armed forces where bodies of jawans who lay down their lives in J&K, Siachin glacier and North-East are frequent, the issue of robust nationalism espoused by the BJP has a profound appeal.

During the state assembly polls, the BJP had peppered it with dose of threat of Muslims including that of Rohingya Muslims to create ‘fear’ amongst the majority community as has been seen in the state of Gujarat in the past two decades where the party has won elections on communal planks. The Congress party was blamed for appeasing the Muslims and being pro-Muslim during the poll campaign which had struck. The same strategy is again in play in Uttarakhand. Blatant use of Islamophobic hate speeches are being restored with patronage of the ruling dispensation.

Last year, a hate video of a famous cardiologist of Dehradun who is a ‘Sangh Parivar’ worker is being circulated in which the doctor is predicting that Uttarakhand would become another “Kashmir” in next five years. He even claimed that mosques have come up at Kedarnath and Badrinath, the famous Hindu pilgrimage places and thousands of Rohingya Muslims have settled in Dehradun. No action by state government has been initiated against such blatant hate mongering.

Last year in November, Bageshwar Baba, a controversial Hindu saint during his visit being felicitated by Chief Minister Dhami and ruling BJP leader announced that there is no place for ‘Chaddar’(meaning mazars or graves of Muslim saints) and ‘Father” (Christian religious leaders) in the ‘Devbhoomi’ of Uttarakhand. He shared stage with some of most controversial personalities who had been in the forefront of minority bashing in the state. The controversial baba was hosted by the Chief Minister at his residence later.

After ‘Land Jehad’ and ‘Love jehad’, ‘Mazar Jehad’ started by the state government against graves of Muslim saints all over the state in the year 2023 with lot of vigour. More than three hundred ‘mazars’ some more than century old were razed on the plea that these were encroachments on forest and public land.

Has the BJP government and its Chief Minister shown guts and even handed approach in razing Hindu shrines and temples built on forest and public land all over ?

The ‘Sangh Parivar’ has wisely chosen Uttarakhand and its’ recent ‘Hindutva’ heart throb Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami to get the Uniform Civil Code(UCC) passed in the state legislature ahead of the of the coming Lok Sabha elections. Interestingly, the euphoria is being created in the name of UCC and attempts are being made to show that a long standing demand of the people of the country have been met by the ruling BJP. The ruling ‘Sangh Parivar’ dispensation would also highlight the opposition by the Muslims against UCC as their ‘resistance’ for reforms and even the Haldwani violence is referred to as reaction of the Muslim community.

The hate campaign of the ‘Sangh Parivar’ is going as per the script while the main opposition Congress is completely clueless about tackling it politically whether it was UCC in and outside the state assembly or charges of Muslim appeasement labelled against it.







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