Pogroms in Nazi Germany and in the BJP-RSS Led India
“Pogrom” is a Russian word which literally means to wreak havoc or to demolish violently. Historically, the term refers to violent attacks by local non-Jewish populations on Jews in the Russian Empire and in other countries. It is now used to describe “a mob attack, either approved or condoned by authorities, against the persons and property of a religious, racial, or national minority.”
Pogroms in Nazi Germany
Before the Holocaust, there were pogroms. The most significant pogrom that occurred in Nazi Germany was the 1938 Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass”, mentioned earlier. In early November 1938, a young Jewish man named Herschel Grynszpan walked into the German embassy in Paris and shot the Third Secretary of the embassy in an attempt to draw international attention to what Jews were experiencing. This incident was used as a pretext for unleashing a series of orchestrated, violent antiSemitic attacks disguised as spontaneous outbursts of public sentiment across Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia.
In just two days, more than 1,000 synagogues were burnt or damaged, about 7,500 Jewish businesses were destroyed, at least 91 Jews were murdered, and hundreds of Jewish hospitals, homes, schools, and cemeteries vandalized. The attackers were often neighbors. According to orders, the police arrested the victims rather than the perpetrators. Some 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Historians view Kristallnacht as a prelude to the “Final Solution”-the annihilation of Jews during the Holocaust.
Pogroms under the BJP-RSS regime in India
Pogrom of Muslims in India is not a new phenomenon. According to the Indian government there were 3,399 cases of communal rioting in the country in the five year period from 2016 to 2020.165 But the nature of such attacks has significantly changed since the rise of the BJP-RSS regime. The two most brutal pogroms in recent years have been the Gujarat Pogrom of 2002 and Delhi Pogrom of 2020.
India had 3,399 cases of communal riots in 5 years of BJP rule
Indian Government data
Gujarat Pogrom of 2002
The ghastly Gujarat Pogrom took place in 2002, leaving more than 2,000 Muslims dead. The pogrom was part of a larger plan to cleanse Gujarat of Muslims. This “Hindutva experiment” was backed by the BJP government.
A train fire incident in Godhra on Feb. 27, 2002, in which Hindus returning from Ayodhya were killed, was used as a trigger. Muslims were blamed for the fire, but an inquiry later determined that the cause was accidental. Instead of isolating the criminals who attacked the train and punishing them according to the law, the state government unleashed a bloodbath that lasted unchecked for three days.
Mass rape, sexual humiliation of women in public, and the battering and burning alive of men, women, and children marked those grim days. Tens of thousands of homes and small business establishments were set ablaze. Hundreds of religious shrines were desecrated and destroyed in this carnage.
Delhi Pogrom of 2020
The ominous echoes of Gujarat 2002 were heard in Delhi in February 2020. At least 53 people were killed and 250 injured. The BJP-RSS machine attacked mosques, shops and houses of the Muslim community which were identified prior to pogrom. Women who were visibly Muslim were attacked. The Delhi police, who report directly to Home Minister Amit Shah, either stood idly by or collaborated with the violent mobs. In what can be seen as a series of retaliatory measures, the victims themselves have been charged and arrested. In other cases, the police have been accused of refusing to file complaints against named perpetrators.
Responses by Indian police & Fire Department
“We don’t have any orders to save you.” “We cannot help you, we have orders from above.” “Whose house is on fire? Hindus’ or Muslims’?” “How come you are alive? You should have died too”
Responses by police, fire stations, ambulance services when victims of Gujarat 2002 Pogrom called for help.
Photo credit FIB.
“Prejudices embedded in the government of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have infiltrated independent institutions, such as the police and the courts, empowering nationalist groups to threaten, harass, and attack religious minorities with impunity.”