Congress Silence on Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes: A Moral Imperative Ignored by the ‘Stronger’ Opposition?

Out of the seven incidents occurring after the 2024 Lok Sabha elections results were announced on June 4, two took place in states governed by the Congress, namely Telangana and Himachal Pradesh. But neither Rahul Gandhi nor Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, among others, have issued statements condemning these incidents.
Congress Silence on Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes: A Moral Imperative Ignored by the ‘Stronger’ Opposition?

New Delhi: Speaking out against injustices is not merely a prudent political strategy but an essential social obligation and, most importantly, a moral imperative. Silence in the face of wrongdoing is tantamount to complicity and tacit approval of the events unfolding around us. This is precisely what the so-called ‘strong’ Opposition, notably the Congress party, has been guilty of in recent cases of mob lynching under false pretexts. It conveniently skirts discussions on hate crimes, choosing instead to remain passive observers.

These incidents are not distant memories from a year or months ago; they occurred in June 2024 when Narendra Modi’s third consecutive term as the prime minister commenced.

On June 7, in Chhattisgarh, 23-year-old Chand Miya Khan, 35-year-old Guddu Khan and 23-year-old Saddam Quraishi — all cattle traders — were chased and brutally lynched to death on their way home. The state police made four arrests days after the incident, leaving the victims’ families pleading for a thorough investigation leading to justice.

On June 15, Telangana’s Medak district, a mob aligned with a Right-wing ideology attacked a madrasa vehicle, transporting sacrificial animals, triggering clashes and stone pelting. Subsequent arrests included prominent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, highlighting the political undercurrents at play.

June 18 saw a tragic incident in Aligarh, where 13-year-old Freed was fatally assaulted over suspicions of theft. Though he was rushed to a hospital, the victim succumbed to his injuries.

Despite six arrests, local Bajrang Dal leaders threatened protests unless the police took action against the deceased family.

The next day, in Himachal Pradesh, a Muslim man’s shop was vandalized by a Hindutva mob allegedly due to a WhatsApp status post about animal sacrifice. 

In Madhya Pradesh’s Mandla district, 11 people were first booked under the Cow Slaughter Prevention Act and then the National Security Act (NSA), followed by the controversial demolition of their homes on alleged government land, purportedly orchestrated by the revenue department with police oversight.

On June 22, 23-year-old Salman Vohra, who had gone to watch a cricket tournament match at Chikhodra in Gujarat, tragically lost his life after being brutally attacked by a group of men.

As The Quint reported, the incident unfolded amidst tensions as Muslim players excelled in the tournament, prompting some locals associated with Right-wing groups to heckle them with Hindutva slogans like “Jai Shri Ram” (Victory to Lord Ram).

The fatal assault on Salman began with a parking dispute when a group of men on motorcycles confronted him, demanding he move his bike. They identified Salman and repeatedly instructed him to comply before launching a vicious assault. Shockingly, bystanders cheered on the attackers, with a viral video capturing the crowd urging violence.

Salman was rushed to a nearby hospital but was later transferred to a multi-speciality private hospital, where he succumbed to severe injuries, including a knife wound to his kidney, injuries to his face and ear and other grievous wounds.

Two other Muslim men were also injured during the incident, one requiring 17 stitches and the other seven.

Seven suspects have been arrested in connection with the incident, and the court has granted the police their seven day remand for further investigation.

On the same day, Marufa Khanam and her husband Samaruddin ventured outside to escape the stifling heat inside their thatched house, exacerbated by frequent power outages typical of that night.

They parted ways, with Samaruddin heading towards the matabari (embankment) where villagers often gathered for fishing, less than 200 meters away. That marked the last time the 30-year-old saw her husband alive.

That evening at 7:16 pm, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced on ‘X’ that individuals from Sutirpar village had allegedly entered the Lawkhua-Burachapari Reserve Forest. During an encounter with forest guards on patrol, a guard reportedly fired in “self-defense”, resulting in the deaths of Samaruddin (35) and his elder brother Abdul Jalil (40).

Congress's Evasive Stand

Out of the seven incidents occurring after the 2024 Lok Sabha elections results were announced on June 4, two took place in states governed by the Congress, namely Telangana and Himachal Pradesh.

Notably, both incidents coincided with Eid al-Adha, a festival of sacrifice. In both instances, subsequent investigations disproved the allegations: the Uttar Pradesh Police verified that the photos purported to be of Javed (whose shop at Nahan in Himachal Pradesh was vandalised and looted) actually depicted buffalo meat, while district authorities in Medak (Telangana) confirmed that no cattle intended for slaughter were being transported.

Following a sadly familiar pattern, both incidents were provoked by parties aiming to stoke anti-Muslim sentiments. In both cases, the police failed to effectively control the mobs or quell the violence.

It is true that dealing with communal violence poses significant challenges for state administrations. However, what has been particularly surprising is the lack of public condemnation from senior Congress leaders in response to recent incidents. Neither Rahul Gandhi nor Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, among others, have issued statements condemning these incidents.

While Rahul has actively tweeted about issues such as the NEET scandal, EVM concerns, terrorist attacks in Jammu and various other current events, his commentary on incidents affecting Muslims has been notably sparse.

Since joining microblogging site ‘X’ in 2015, he has mentioned the term “Muslim” only nine times — six times in Hindi and thrice in English. Of these, only two tweets specifically addressed violence against Muslims: one concerning the lynching of Akhlaq in 2015 and another addressing violence against Muslims in Tripura in 2019.

This raises concerns regarding the public stance taken by him — a prominent figure in the Congress party and the broader Opposition alliance (INDIA bloc).

A senior Congress official, speaking anonymously, remarked, “It reveals a reluctance to directly address the issue of violence against Muslims and the pervasive anti-Muslim rhetoric. When Rahul Gandhi discusses Muslims, he often refers to them as ‘minorities’, grouping them with other religious minority communities. However, it is crucial to recognize that attacks and discrimination against Muslims stem from their religious identity, not solely from their numerical minority status. If it were solely about being a minority, other religious groups like Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists or Parsis would face similar assaults.”

Impact of Silence on Opposition’s Image

During the elections, Rahul successfully campaigned on a platform of upholding the Constitution, garnering significant support from Muslims and Dalits across India. However, following a strong electoral showing, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, the Opposition has remained conspicuously silent on the critical issue of hate crimes.

“This silence on systematic persecution sends a troubling message that the Congress may advocate for secularism, democracy and constitutional values, but without meaningful inclusion of Muslims,” he emphasized, adding: “It seems like Muslims appointed the INDIA bloc, particularly the Congress, as their advocate, but that counsel — instead of defending their concerns — turned hostile. These secular forces must not take the Muslim community for granted any longer".

Rejecting the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) accusation of Muslim appeasement, he advised his leadership, the party should unequivocally denounce all forms of atrocities and hate crimes.

“The Congress needs to transcend its inherent Brahminical tendencies, as evidenced by the fact that despite attempts at appeasement, upper castes predominantly voted for the BJP, not in our favour,” said another Congress’s functionary who heads an OBC wing of the party.

He highlighted that in North India, the predominant narrative of socio-political conflict revolves around Hindu-Muslim tensions. The current regime has intensified communal divisions so that no discussion can take place on social welfare, inclusive development and governance.

“This has led to a scenario where every issue is framed as a game between Hindus and Muslims. The Congress has faced challenges in navigating this divisive narrative over the past decade, but it is imperative for the party to transcend this binary outlook,” he added.

Analysis of the general election results, Rahul has repeatedly interpreted the outcome as a rejection of politics driven by communal hatred and violence. “It is crucial that such statements are followed through with decisive action. Any hesitation or wavering will be perceived as a lack of conviction by those who placed their trust in the INDIA alliance and supported them in the polls,” he added.

Significant voter consolidation behind the INDIA bloc, including non-Jatav Dalit castes in Uttar Pradesh and a substantial Muslim electorate nationally (estimated at 63%, reaching 92% in UP according to CSDS-Lokniti polls), underscores the hope these groups have vested in the Opposition’s promise of a politics devoid of communal animosity. This trust represents a weighty responsibility that must be honored.

Challenges in Upholding Secular Values

The BJP maintains its strength through clear objectives and steadfast dedication to its supporters, evident in its consistent adherence to a well-established strategy despite facing electoral debacles.

“For the Congress and its leadership to inspire confidence and retain support from their core constituencies, they must adopt a similarly resolute approach. Any wavering could lead to disillusionment among their supporters, and it may impact the party’s prospects in Jharkhand and Maharashtra (which are going to polls later this year),” he said.

He said maintaining the coalition of diverse social groups that supported the Congress and ensuring continued political backing are crucial for sustaining its electoral gains and fostering a new brand of politics grounded in unity and progress.

Both leaders equivocally said the Congress must uphold its promises to combat communal hatred and religious violence by actively championing targeted groups based on their religious identity. It must go beyond rhetorical gestures on secularism and the Constitution, openly reassuring vulnerable communities like Dalits and Muslims of its unwavering support as silence is no longer acceptable.

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