Prime Minister Narendra Modi's latest visit to the UK has not been as swift as his foreign trips generally are. Protesters have thronged the roads of London in the wake of the rising crimes against women, including two violent rapes in Kathua in Jammu & Kashmir and Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.
The protesters assembled with placards reading "Modi go home" and "we stand against Modi's agenda of hate and greed" outside Downing Street and British parliament as Modi arrived to meet his British counterpart Theresa May. The twin rape cases have particularly rocked India owing to religious and political connotations attached to them.
In this backdrop, UK's renowned Guardian newspaper came up with a piece on the issue headlined 'India is a 'republic of fear'. The UK must keep the pressure on Modi'.
The article said it would be incorrect to see the twin rape incidents as simply a part of violence against the women that have been "endemic in India". About the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, the post cited the charge sheet to say that it was planned and executed to terrorise the Muslim Bakarwal community to which she belonged to drive it out of the region.
"The attempt to lodge the charge sheet against the accused at a local court was followed by violent protests in their defence by a pro-Modi Hindu rightwing outfit, the Hindu Ekta Manch. Two BJP ministers attended the protests and urged the crowd to obstruct the prosecution of the accused," the Guardian piece said.
The post also spoke over the Unnao case, saying a BJP member of UP legislative assembly was arrested on charges of raping a 16-year-old girl. It said when the family of the rape victim protested, her father was brutally beaten up by the accused MLA's supporters and he died in custody after getting arrested.
"In the face of mass protests, Modi finally broke his silence over these events. He condemned the "incidents" and promised justice to "daughters" - although refusing to use the word "rape" - but has failed to recognise the culpability of his own supporters. The reason is clear: as feminist lawyer, Vrinda Grover points out, "the Hindutva hate brigade is the BJP's core constituency". It is Hindutva, the ideology of the BJP and of the family of rightwing Hindu organisations it belongs to, which is today attempting to profoundly transform India into a monolithic Hindu nation from which minorities and dissidents are forcibly excluded."
It further said: "The preachers of Hindutva, who are feted not punished, are responsible for an epidemic of brutal mob-lynchings of Muslims. Sometimes they are justified on the pretext that the victims have consumed beef or slaughtered cows. Sometimes simply being a Muslim is enough to incite violence. 15-year old Junaid, for example, was beaten to death on a train when out for Eid shopping. Afrazul Khan, a migrant worker, was killed with an axe and his body burned while a 14-year-old filmed the horrific scene."
The article did not spare Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the Hindutva icon, either. It said: "In the context of rape, for example, he writes that the rape of Muslim women is justifiable and what not to do so when the occasion permits are not virtuous or chivalrous, but cowardly."