Eid was somber in Khandawli on Monday, as it was across the country. In a national first, scores of Muslims across the country offered their Eid prayers while wearing a black band, a symbol of protest against the killing of the teen as well as growing atrocities against Muslims in the country, which have been increasing since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office three years ago. In September 2015, a Muslim man, Mohammad Akhlaq, was lynched in Dadri near the Indian capital, over rumors that he had killed a local cow and stored its meat in his refrigerator. The month after that, 16-year-old Zahid Rasool Bhatt died when vigilante groups attacked his truck with a bomb in Udhampur. In March 2017, suspected cattle traders Muhammed Majloom and Azad Khan were hanged in Latehar. In May, traders were thrashed in Malegaon, Maharashtra for allegedly storing beef. In Jharkhand in May, 19-year-old Mohammed Shalik was tied to a pole and beaten to death, reportedly over a romantic relationship with a Hindu girl. In May, two more Muslim men, Abu Hanifa and Riazuddin Ali, were killed for allegedly stealing cattle in Assam. More recently, on June 7, a Muslim man was attacked in Dhanbad, Jharkhand, on suspicion of transporting beef to an Iftar gathering. Two more cases of lynching over cow slaughter rumors were reported earlier this week in eastern India.
On Sunday, before his first visit with President Trump, Modi addressed India through his radio program Mann Ki Baat (Heart-to-heart-talk). And while his monologue touched upon various topics, including yoga, toilets, sports, a meeting with the Queen, books as gifts and the … er … weather, Junaid Khan’s murder didn’t find a nano-second of air time.
Modi did not mention the more than a dozen cases of lynchings, mostly against Muslims, recorded in India since September last year, especially in states ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Modi also did not address the violence of the cow-vigilante groups, who often owe allegiance to the BJP or its ideological parent the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
And while the list grows longer every day, the violence against Muslims and cow-vigilante groups have not elicited a single tweet of condemnation from India’s social media savvy prime minister, who is quick to condemn atrocities all over the world. Modi’s silence, in fact, is beginning to feel like a redux of the Gujarat riots in 2002 which killed more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims. For years he stayed silent, and when he spoke finally, he had compared the riots to a puppy being run over.