Muslims of India have been feeling more vulnerable and insecure in the first four months of 2018 than ever before. Recent cases of failed justice for crimes committed against them have disheartened the Muslim community.
Even to outside observers, it is increasingly clear that Muslims are being ostracised and singled out and that state institutions are failing them in India.
In January, an eight-year-old girl was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered in the Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir. The girl was from the Bakarwal Muslim nomadic community. The eight men accused of participating in her abduction, assault and murder, on the other hand, are Hindus. The primary accused is a retired revenue official, while one of the others is a police officer.
When the girl's body was discovered near a temple in the forest, almost a week after her disappearance, Bakarwals demanded a special inquiry. The court-monitored investigation revealed that her abduction, rape and murder were purposeful and preplanned. It indicated that the attack on the girl aimed to scare the Bakarwal community away from Kathua.
Last month, when the special team investigating the murder, headed by a Pandit Hindu and a Muslim, went to file its charge sheet, it faced stiff resistancefrom some members of the Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association.
They rallied against the investigative team and accused them of serving an "anti-Hindu agenda". They claimed that they, too, wanted justice for the brutalised girl, but said the investigative team was biased against Hindus. They said they wanted the probe to be conducted by the Central Bureau of India (CBI) instead.
The lawyers also had other, clearly anti-Muslim, demands. They demanded a change in the land use policy in the state which allows the nomads to retain the plots they had in their possession. In protests, supported by other Hindu groups and political parties active in the area, they also asked for Rohingya refugees to be removed from the area. Both these demands had nothing to do with the "fairness" of the investigation into the girl's murder. And together, they made the protesters' anti-Muslim agenda crystal clear.
Today, many people from the Hindu community, against all evidence, seems to be convinced that this crime could not have been committed by Hindus. Instead, they allege that the child must have been killed by the Rohingya or the Bakarwals themselves. They claim the entire case is a Muslim-Kashmiri conspiracy aiming to undermine the Hindus.
India's Muslims have a feeling that a physical and psychological war is being waged against them. The state apparatus, as is evident from the examples given above, is turning a blind eye - if not giving direct support - to the injustices being committed against them. With the general elections around the corner, many fear that anti-Muslim violence in India is only going to increase and intensify in the coming months.
This, unfortunately, is being seen by the BJP as a legitimate method of mobilising Hindu votes in the electoral battle.