Home Minister in India is the man who is in charge of the country’s national security and immigration. And people have many reasons to be afraid.

It is a massively important position, and can be argued that it’s even more powerful than the position of the prime minister, when it comes to life, livelihood, dignity and safety of the 1.2 billion men, women and children living in India. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after getting elected for the second five-year term with a landslide victory, gave Amit Shah the Ministry of Home. In USA, the position perhaps would be a combination of the Secretary of Homeland Security and Attorney General, even though India has a lesser important cabinet called Ministry of Law and Justice. In India, the Home Minister has traditionally been the Number Two position. Very powerful home ministers have included L. K. Advani under then prime minister A. B. Vajpayee, and long ago, the famous Vallabh Bhai Patel under Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India.

However, contrary to Patel or Advani, most people today in India don’t even know who Amit Shah is. They don’t know what type of a man he is, what philosophy of life and politics he believes in, from which political circles he rose from, what kind of acts he committed before, and what kind of quotes he made publicly many times over. You can click on the above links, and find out.

I am going to include only one of Amit Shah quotes, to make you oriented with the beliefs and visions of India’s new home minister Amit Shah. On Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants, he said, “The illegal immigrants are like termites who need to be thrown in the Bay of Bengal.” It was his idea to introduce a bill in parliament to grant citizenship to minorities from neighboring countries, except Muslims.

What is Amit Shah now responsible for? Among other things, he will deal with India’s civilian and military police, general law and order, internal security, the sensitive subject of Jammu and Kashmir, terrorism (fake or real), border security and immigration, the citizenship issue like the one we mentioned above, espionage and surveillance (traditional and online), civil rights and liberties, atrocities on women, “low-castes and untouchables,” communal violence and riots, problems with refugees and “invading outsiders,” political and social protests and rallies, and much more.

India is now ranked one of the lowest on the issues of violence on women, Muslims, and other minorities. Major international organizations have placed India at the bottom on global human rights violation issues.

Amit Shah has a dark, checkered past on human rights: he has been accused of extrajudicial killings of Muslims being labeled as terrorists. You can read the reference here (Washington Post article, May 31, 2019).

Never in modern Indian history somebody like Amit Shah has assumed political and administrative powers of this magnitude. Shah comes from the Hindu supremacist organization RSS (National Volunteer Corps), and I have written about RSS many times before on this blog. You can read about the theories and practice of the organization. RSS dictates BJP’s politics, and the most important people on Modi’s cabinet including Modi himself are all RSS members.

Like many international media reported, selection of Amit Shah as the home minister signals a new, ominous chapter in India’s politics. We have enough reasons to believe it’s going to be a chapter rife with heavy-handedness, repression, fear, intimidation, and gross violation of democracy and justice.

I do hope I am proven wrong.

Sincerely Yours,

Partha Banerjee
Long Island, New York