OIC says Muslims targeted on Hindu festival, India rejects charge

Organization of Islamic Cooperation says attacks during Ram Navami festival were a ‘vivid manifestation of mounting Islamophobia’ in India.

India Bihar violence
A policeman walks through a street after violence during Ram Navami festival in Sasaram district of India's Bihar state [AFP]

A prominent Muslim body has denounced the “provocative acts of violence and vandalism” during the Hindu festival of Ram Navami in India, which has accused the organisation of an “anti-India agenda”.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said instances of attacks on Muslims during the nine-day festival were a “vivid manifestation of mounting Islamophobia and systemic targeting of the Muslim community in India”.

India’s foreign ministry condemned the statement, saying the OIC showed an “anti-India agenda”.

“This is one more example of their communal mindset and anti-India agenda. OIC only does its reputation damage by being consistently manipulated by anti-India forces,” foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said in a statement on Twitter.

Local media reports said large processions of people carrying tridents, swords, sticks and other weapons passed through Muslim neighbourhoods in several cities, raising hate slogans and even setting homes and shops on fire in some places.

According to the reports, at least two people were killed in the violence during the festival, including one in the eastern state of Bihar, where authorities deployed hundreds of riot police and cut mobile internet services to prevent a flare-up.

The Jeddah-based 57-member OIC group said the violence during the Ram Navami processions saw the “burning of a madrassa (Muslim school) and its library by an extremist Hindu mob” in Bihar’s Bihar Sharif town.

Similar incidents of violence were reported from West Bengal, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and other states, leading to more than 100 arrests across the country.

Critics say hardline Hindu groups have been emboldened since Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was Gujarat state chief minister during huge riots there in 2002, was elected prime minister in 2014.

“The OIC General Secretariat calls upon the Indian authorities to take firm actions against the instigators and perpetrators of such acts and to ensure the safety, security, rights and dignity of the Muslim community in the country,” the Muslim body said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies