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Modi’s speech to police chiefs shows he couldn’t bother less about increasing religious conflict

23 18 262

Narendra Modi’s speech to the annual conference of state police chiefs in Gujarat on December 22 provides a glimpse into why he has largely maintained a stony silence over gruesome mob lynchings in the name of the cow. The prime minister thinks caste-based faultlines represent a far greater crisis for India than the religious chasms. He did not say it explicitly but this is the only conclusion that can be drawn from the points he chose to emphasise and those he glossed over.

According to a statement on the prime minister’s website, he cautioned the police chiefs against divisive elements who exploit caste faultlines for short-term gains. By contrast, he did not seem concerned about those widening the religious gulf.

In fact, whatever concern he displayed was from the perspective of terrorism. He applauded police forces for countering terrorism and confining it to a small geographic area of the country (read Kashmir). He then urged them to counter “the dark forces of radicalisation and to engender trust among all communities across the nation”.

In India, the word “radicalisation” is mostly employed for Muslim youths who pick up the gun, in Kashmir or elsewhere. Even if it is assumed that Modi used the word to describe the growing extremism among all religious communities, it is bewildering why he should have been so evasive and circumspect. He did not refer to the widening of the religious chasm despite the alarming spurt in the lynching of Muslims ferrying cattle, or the battering of Christians for allegedly converting Hindus.


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