The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has come under fire recently due to comments made by party spokesperson Nupur Sharma and Delhi media chief Naveen Jindal. Their remarks against Prophet Muhammad and Islam were slammed by the Qatar Foreign Ministry, and the Indian government sought to defuse the situation by severing ties with both Sharma and Jindal while labelling their comments as ‘views of fringe elements’. 

While Qatar seeks a public apology for the comments, the Indian embassy in Doha stated that the views don’t reflect the government of India’s stance in any manner. 

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However, since the BJP came to power in 2014, and was reelected in 2019, there has been an increasing anti-Muslim sentiment from different party members, which has largely been ignored within the nation, as an Indian Express editorial notes. It has taken an international incident to shine a light on that matter. 

India and Qatar share a strong bilateral relationship, which the nation’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has nurtured as well. While the government took the swift stance of distancing itself from Sharma and Jindal’s remarks, it belies the situation in the nation, where the government of India has let several anti-Muslim statements slide. 

Ghar Wapsi moment 

Back in 2014, when the BJP had first come to power, the Dharm Jagran Samiti (DJS) had declared they’d make the country a Hindu Rashtra by 2021. Uttar Pradesh DJS head Rajeshwar Singh had said, “Our target is to make India a Hindu Rashtra by 2021. The Muslims and Christians don’t have any right to stay here. So they would either be converted to Hinduism or forced to run away from here”, adding, “The Muslims had converted Rajputs to Islam by force. But the Rajputs are rising again. I will ensure that India is freed of Muslims and Christians by December 31, 2021”, as per India Today. 

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Speaking to Mail Today, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader had clarified the government’s stance, saying “We never ask Modi or any other BJP leader before chalking out our strategy. We only expect them to speak for or against us to clarify their stand. But Modi is the prime minister. So his silence means his approval. It is the right time for us to fulfil our agenda.” 

Amit Shah’s termite problem 

Amit Shah, the Minister of Home Affairs, and effectively the second-most powerful person in the country said that India would “remove every infiltrator from the country, except Buddha, Hindus, and Sikhs”. The citizen’s registry met with immense backlash, with many fearing that it’d be used to hound Muslims. 

In another instance, Shah had referred to Bangladeshi Muslims, saying “The illegal immigrants are like termites”, and vowed to have them thrown into the Bay of Bengal if BJP was voted into power, as per PTI reports.

The Yogi who saw green 

The current Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, had launched an attack on the opposition Congress party saying “You might have seen Rahul Gandhi’s nomination rally at one of the seats in Kerala, there was only greenery visible there. Congress flag was nowhere to be seen. Congress is suffering from this green virus, it has got infected by it”, ANI reported. 

His comments led to the election commission banning him from campaigning for three days. 

Srivastava’s big shave

Ranjeet Bahadur Srivastava, the BJP leader from Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh, said “the party will bring machines from China to shave 10-12 thousand Muslims and later force them to adopt Hindu religion”. 

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Further, Srivastava said “In the past five years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made attempts to break the morale of the Muslims. Vote for PM Modi if you want to destroy the breed of Muslims. Despite partition, the Muslim population is increasing in the country and soon they will able to get the grip on the power through voting”, ANI reported. 

No skull caps, just tilaks 

Ahead of the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, BJP MLA Raghvendra Pratap Singh was seen in a Facebook live video, saying “Since I became an MLA, they (the Muslims) have stopped wearing skull caps. If you vote for me again, they will start wearing tilaks”, The Wire reported. 

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In another video, Singh from Domariyaganj in Siddharthnagar district said, ”

Earlier, the roads of Dumariyaganj used to be jammed by ‘topiwalas’ (a reference to skull cap-wearing Muslims) during Ramzan. We used to see ‘gol topis’ (skull caps). Haven’t all these things been stopped by now? In the coming days, please bring the Bhagwa (saffron) government in again and strengthen Modi.”

Over time, the statements from different members of the BJP show that anti-Muslim sentiments have lurked in India, and now it has reared its head in an international space.