Eye on India: India's Muslim minority feels a chill wind

An elderly Indian Muslim couple displaying their ink-marked fingers after casting their votes in Chennai on April 18 during the second phase of the Indian elections. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gesturing to supporters as he arrived to file hi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gesturing to supporters as he arrived to file his election nomination papers in Varanasi last month. He has chosen to surrender his seat in his home state of Gujarat to retain this one in Uttar Pradesh, the country's politically most vital state.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
An elderly Indian Muslim couple displaying their ink-marked fingers after casting their votes in Chennai on April 18 during the second phase of the Indian elections. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gesturing to supporters as he arrived to file hi
An elderly Indian Muslim couple displaying their ink-marked fingers after casting their votes in Chennai on April 18 during the second phase of the Indian elections.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

For the past two weeks, associate editor Ravi Velloor has been travelling in the Indian heartland, visiting people in urban areas as well as the homes of the poorest in the countryside, sometimes braving 43 deg C heat. This is the last of his three reports on India's seven-stage polls, the results of which will be announced on May 23.

VARANASI (Uttar Pradesh) • It is said that the late Bismillah Khan, the foremost exponent of the shehnai woodwind instrument popular around South Asia, was once offered a position as musician-in-residence at a prestigious American university.

He hailed from a family of Muslim musicians whose services were employed by the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, one of the biggest Hindu shrines in north India, and his music was a part of the syncretic fibre of this ancient city situated on the west bank of the Ganges River, which is sacred to Hindus.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2019, with the headline 'India's Muslim minority feels a chill wind'. Print Edition | Subscribe