Three Supreme Court justices in India have said they are launching an investigation into threats by some Hindu extremists against the Muslim minority in the northern state of Uttarakhand.
The announcement came after a retired Supreme Court justice filed a petition calling for the prosecution of several Hindu religious leaders who allegedly called for a “genocide” of Muslims.
The incendiary remarks were reportedly made at a Hindu religious gathering in Uttarakhand state last month.
“Even if just a hundred of us become soldiers and kill two million of them, we will be victorious … If you stand with this attitude, only then will you able to protect ‘sanatana dharma’ [an absolute form of Hinduism],” says a woman in a video purportedly recorded at the religious congregation, which was widely shared on social media.
Anjana Prakash, the former judge who submitted the petition to the Supreme Court, said such statements “pose a grave threat not just to the unity and integrity of our country but also endanger the lives of millions of Muslim citizens,” according to Bar & Bench, an online portal for Indian legal news.
Uttarakhand has been governed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2014.
Prime Minister Modi is being criticized for not speaking out against the call for genocide against Muslims.
Prime Minister Imran Khan of neighboring Pakistan tweeted that the “continuing silence of the Modi government” on the issue “begs the question whether the BJP supports this call.”
The world’s largest secular democracy, India is home to some 190 million Muslims, over 14% of its 1.4 billion population. Despite winning landslide elections, Prime Minister Modi’s BJP party has increasingly been accused of stoking religious hatred against religious minorities, particularly against Muslims. In the past, BJP officials have denied the party stokes religious tensions.
Scores of individuals, most of them Muslims, have been killed in religiously provoked hate crimes in different parts of India over the last few years, according to the U.S. State Department’s 2020 report on religious freedom in India.
Indian laws criminalize “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion,” and violators can face up to five years prison.
Some information for this story comes from the Associated Press.