Gurpreet Singh: Silence over murder of Indian police officer by Hindu extremists exposes doublespeak on terrorism

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      The recent daylight murder of a police officer in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) by Hindu extremists has, unsurprisingly, gone unnoticed by Canadian politicians.

      Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh was killed while trying to control mob violence by Hindu fanatics in the city of Bulandshahr. This followed the discovery of cow carcasses in a village. 

      Hindus consider the cow as a sacred animal. And right-wing Hindu groups have tried to exploit this in a state led by the Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government.

      This party has been widely accused of patronizing "cow vigilantism", in which mobs—called "cow Taliban" by critics—attack beef-eating Muslims and Christians in the name of protecting cattle.

      The protest by Hindu groups in Bulandshahr turned violent, leading to the death of Singh and a civilian. This occurred in an area known for communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims.

      Ever since the BJP came to power in India in 2014, attacks on religious minorities—particularly Muslims, Christians, and Dalits (so-called untouchables)—have grown.

      The BJP government has only added fuel to the fire by making cow-protection laws even more stringent in this Hindu-dominated country.

      The locals believe that the recent attack killing the police inspector was precipitated by outsiders with the backing of those in power to consolidate Hindu support before the 2019 general election.

      The police inspector, Singh, previously investigated the murder of Mohammed Akhlaq, a Muslim, who was lynched by the Hindu extremists in UP in 2015 after being accused of consuming beef.

      Singh, a practising Hindu, was an upright officer who tried to take the investigation to its logical end. This obviously enraged the BJP and Singh was being threatened by Hindu extremists.

      Some believe that he was on their hit list—and the Bulandshahr episode might have provided them an alibi to settle old scores.

      It's sad that his murder has not evoked much outrage. Imagine if a police officer were murdered by Sikh or Kashmiri separatists or Maoist insurgents. What would have happened? The entire country would have been on the boil.

      Even the mainstream media in India has described the killing of Singh as "mob violence" rather than religious terrorism. 

      This is also true for Canada. Had such an incident happened in Pakistan, maybe Canadian politicians would have responded more promptly and aggressively and called it terrorism.

      Canadian politicians have spoken out against the persecution of Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi (above) but say little about Christians, Muslims, and other minorities who are oppressed in India.

      A case in point is Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who continues to face death threats by Muslim extremists after being accused and arrested for alleged blasphemy.

      When the Pakistani Supreme Court acquitted her, Canadian politicians—including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer— tried to outscore each other by defending her right to seek asylum in this country. But for Singh, I have not noticed a single tweet.

      Honestly, this does not surprise me at all. Canada has always been silent over growing Hindu extremism in India, a country that offers international corporations business opportunities.

      This is not to suggest that Asia Bibi’s case is less important. If Pakistani theocracy cannot protect her, Canada needs to stand up for her.

      But Canada also needs to acknowledge what is going next door to Pakistan in the world’s so-called largest democracy.

      Hopefully, Canada will eventually pay attention, but on this International Human Rights Day (December 10), we can't have much faith, even as Canada claims to be a human rights leader of the world.

      Early this year, Trudeau went to India where he was snubbed and received bad press. His critics charged him with being soft on Sikh separatists active in Canada.

      The presence of a former Sikh militant at one of his events stirred a huge controversy. A subsequent report prepared by National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians is heavily redacted. The part that deals with foreign interference by Indian agencies in Canada is blacked out.

      The report acknowledges that this was done partly for the sake of international relations, which implies that Canada does not want to antagonize India.

      If Canada is keen to assure India that it won’t pander to Sikh separatists, then India must also be held accountable for patronizing Hindu extremists.

      A good start would be for Canadian politicians to speak up on International Human Rights Day about the murder of an Indian police officer by cow vigilantes.

      Gurpreet Singh is cofounder of Radical Desi magazine. He's also the author of Why Mewa Singh Killed William Hopkinson: Revisiting the Murder of a Canadian Immigration Inspector and Fighting Hatred With Love: Voices of the Air India Victims' Families. Both were published by Chetna Parkashan.