Rajsamand Killing: Hindutva Done ISIS-Style

Social Commentary

Rajsamand Killing: Hindutva Done ISIS-Style

Illustration: Akshita Monga

We’ve reached a point in India’s life where we are no longer bothered by the term “Hindu Rashtra,” which is the exact opposite of how secular India was imagined. Empowered by a government that has adopted Hindutva as a core ideology, fringe groups, lynch mobs, and radical individuals are experiencing greater freedom to enact out their sick, twisted fantasies.

In today’s dose of gruesome killing in the name of religion, we have the sickening murder in Rajsamand, Rajasthan. A Hindu man hacked at a Muslim labourer with an axe and set his corpse on fire — all on video. He then declared to the camera that this was to prevent “love jihad” and that others who attempted it, would meet the same fate. For the radicals that are enabled by our current environment, this, and other horrifying cases, are necessary steps toward reclaiming India for Hindus (After all, the chief minister of one of our largest states endorses this kind of violence).

A major justification for Hindutva violence is rectification of historical wrongs inflicted upon Hindus by Muslims and other foreign invaders. By purging India of these influences in the modern age, these Hindutva elements seek to return to the halcyon days of yore.

Except, it doesn’t work. Hindutva’s medieval, brutish approach to achieving their goals takes us further from the lofty ideals of ancient India, and skews much much closer to the bush-league terrorism practiced by their supposed nemeses — Islamic fundamentalists.

Just look at the viral video from Rajasthan, it’s hard to make any distinction between the fanatic axe-wielding killer Shambhulal and ISIS’s infamous Jihadi John. Everything about the video, from the shocking bloodthirstiness of the execution, to the terrifying fervour in the killer’s eyes as he delivers his diatribe, is copied from the playbook of Muslim terrorist organisations. While claiming to be vehemently opposed to Islam and all its adherents, Hindutva organisations are learning to ape its worst examples.

At this point, it’s impossible to deny the existence of Hindutva terror any longer

ISIS, just like Shambhulal, and the killers of Mohammed Akhlaq and Hafiz Junaid, pick innocent, everyday civilians as their targets. Both sets of fanatics make public displays of their killings, seeking to not only to eliminate a target but also strike fear into the populace at large. These executions are carried out not only as supposed punishment for the victim’s perceived sins, but also as a medium of broadcasting a broader message, one of hate and violence.

At this point, it’s impossible to deny the existence of Hindutva terror any longer. Kamal Hassan received death threats for daring to even name its existence, and that should have been sign enough. A filmmaker was physically assaulted on his own set, and his actors had bounties placed on their heads, for daring to make a movie about a Rajput queen. Again, that should have been sign enough. The news of Muslim and Dalit men being beaten and lynched across the country for possession of beef should have been sign enough. Let’s call these so-called “fringe” elements what they really are: Terrorist outfits, seeking to achieve their means through violence, intimidation, and fear. Just like ISIS.

Those who embolden this fringe, as a means toward a Hindu Rashtra should reevaluate their intentions. Now is the time to figure out whether we want to inherit the progressive, syncretic India that was imagined for us by our freedom fighters, or a Caliphate by any other name.