India’s Muslims Mark Eid Festival Amid Violence


In the days leading up to the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha, Hindu extremists perpetrated several anti-Muslim hate crimes across India, casting a shadow over festivities. These incidents have ranged from mob lynching and physical assaults to acts of intimidation and unlawful entry into Muslim-owned homes under the pretext of policing for cow slaughter.

Indian Muslims had hoped for a reprieve following the recent Parliamentary elections, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) failed to secure an outright majority, forcing a coalition with other parties. However, these expectations have been dashed as Muslims continue to face hostilities and violence, exacerbated by Hindutva nationalist groups emboldened under PM Modi’s regime.

“Speculations that the confidence of Hindutva supporters would fall after the election results have proven to be false. The right-wing goons have sent a clear message that their social hegemony remains undisturbed and that Islamophobia and violence will continue unabated, much like in previous years,” stated Nadim Khan, the National Secretary of the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), in an interview with The Contrapuntal.

The incidents highlight a disturbing pattern of targeted violence against Muslims, often based on unfounded accusations. In several states, including Odisha and Madhya Pradesh, communal tensions have escalated, with even the state apparatus continuing to participate in collective punishment against the Muslim community.

Unabated Mob Violence

One of the most severe incidents occurred at Medak in South Indian Telangana state, where several Muslims were injured after a violent mob of over a hundred Hindu extremists attacked Muslim residents over cattle brought for slaughtering on the day of Eid.

The mob attacked a madrasa, resulting in serious injuries to at least eight people, including a 60-year-old man. Armed with sticks and other weapons, the mob went on to target Muslim-owned shops and establishments, including a hospital while raising the Hindu religious slogan “Jai Sri Ram” – which has evolved into a civic warcry symbolizing Hindu cultural pride.

In the Northern state of Himachal Pradesh, another violent episode unfolded when a Hindu extremist mob attacked and looted a shop owned by a Muslim man after he shared a picture of an animal sacrifice for Eid on WhatsApp. A video of the incident shows police standing by as the mob forced the shop open, throwing out clothes and causing extensive damage.

After vandalizing the shop, the mob then marched to the local district collector’s office, chanting genocidal slogans such as “shoot the traitors.”

The subsequent police investigation revealed that the Muslim trader, Javed, did not sacrifice a cow, contrary to the allegations made by far-right groups. Despite this, Javed was booked for posting the picture, and accused of “hurting their sentiments.”

According to Khan, “Over the last year, there have been over 50 Islamophobic incidents across Himachal Pradesh and despite India’s opposition party, the Congress, being in power in the state, they have allowed the anti-Muslim hate to go unchecked.”

In the West Bengal’s Birbhum, a 19-year-old Muslim man, Tufan Sekh was brutally assaulted by a Hindu extremist mob, tied to a pole, and beaten with bamboo sticks on the day of Eid. Sekh was falsely accused of throwing a packet of meat in front of a Hindu temple.

According to the victim’s brother, Bilal Mohammad, Sekh was on his way to a relative’s house to distribute the sacrificial meat, when one of the meat packets dropped out on the road.

“My brother made a U-turn to retrieve it and was immediately surrounded by local residents. They accused him of deliberately throwing it in front of the Hindu temple to hurt their sentiments. This accusation makes no sense; if it had been his intention, he wouldn’t have returned to search for the missing packet,” he explained.

In Balasore in the Eastern Odisha state, tensions flared on Eid after allegations that cows were being slaughtered. Hindu men attacked Muslim households on suspicion of animal slaughter, triggering violent clashes. At least 15 people, including five policemen, were injured. These tensions erupted just days after the BJP formed the government in the state.

A Collective Punishment

The state apparatus also participated in collective punishment against Muslims. In the Mandla area of Madhya Pradesh in Central India, the homes of 11 Muslim families were demolished after police claimed they found beef stored in their refrigerators. Despite the meat samples still being tested, officials alleged the homes were built on government land and accused the men of “illegal” cattle trade.

Civil rights group, Amnesty International has condemned India’s use of bulldozers to mete out collective punishment against minority communities, calling it a violation of international human rights law.

Around 50 people have been left homeless as a result of the demolitions. “We have been on the road for the last two days. All the belongings are spread on the ground. Children are crying in pain due to the heat …We haven’t eaten anything for the last 2 days,” lamented one of the victims, Shumaila Qureshi (name changed).

Instances of vigilante violence were also reported from across the country on the day of Eid. In Khordha, Odisha, Hindu extremist cow vigilantes entered a house, seized all the meat inside, and stole the fridge over suspicion of storing beef. In Faridabad, Haryana, cow vigilantes assaulted a Muslim meat shop owner and also two Hindu men who were buying chicken.

In Chandwad, Maharashtra, cow vigilantes harassed two truck drivers for transporting cattle. In Dhule, Maharashtra, Hindu extremist cow vigilantes vandalized a vehicle and assaulted its occupants over allegations of transporting cattle.

In recent years, Hindu festivals have progressively been leveraged by the ruling Hindu majoritarian BJP led by PM Modi as a means to galvanize voter support, resulting in a rise in communal violence against minorities. These groups are emboldened by a perceived sense of political patronage, which grants them a degree of impunity. In 2023, the coalition of 57 Muslim countries – the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) called such incidents a “vivid manifestation of mounting Islamophobia and systemic targeting of the Muslim community in India.”

India is home to 200 million Muslims who make up a large minority group in the country of more than 1.4 billion people. They are scattered across almost every part of India and have been targeted in a series of attacks that have taken place Modi first assumed power in 2014.

Critics say Modi’s conspicuous silence over anti-Muslim violence has emboldened some of his most extreme supporters, further enabled by hate speech by his party members against the community. Modi’s election campaign in 2024 was also rife with anti-Muslim hate speeches. At a campaign rally on 21 April 2024, he referred to Indian Muslims as “infiltrators.” 

Meer Faisal

Meer Faisal is an award-winning Multimedia journalist based in Delhi covering minorities. He has been instrumental in debunking the hate crimes committed by Hindutva groups on virtual platforms and reporting the physical violence of Hindutva organisations in different parts of the country. His work has been featured in Al Jazeera, DW News, TRT World, Article 14, The Wire, First post, and The New Arab.

Rushda Fathima Khan

Rushda Fathima Khan is an independent journalist based in India. She has written for national and international publications including Al Jazeera, The New Arab, The Wire, The Quint, Maktoob and The Cognate on politics, human rights, and religious freedom. She has extensively reported on the government’s discriminatory policies towards minorities, state violence against minorities, and the incarceration of Muslim activists in jails.

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