Even in Karnataka, very few people know of the Hindu Jagruti Sene – their Facebook page has no more than 1,000 followers. In normal circumstances, no one would have bothered if a group on the fringes of the Hindu right demanded that the main train station in the dusty, poor northern city of Kalaburgi painted in green be repainted because “it looks like a mosque”.

But this is the new India with every old vice resurrected and magnified, with fundamentalist demands, however nutty and bigoted, taken into serious consideration. So, it was no surprise that a few days later, the Indian railways – known for a notoriously slow bureaucracy, which takes years to even clear footbridges connecting metro and mainline stations – repainted Kalaburgi station white.

Meanwhile, in the state capital of Bengaluru, a more well-known Hindu group called the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti – its previous successes include a stop to the shows of “anti-Hindu” stand-up comics – successfully began lobbying legislators of the state and India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party for a ban on the certification of halal food and the establishment of an “anti-love-jihad police force”, both favourite tropes of Hindu fundamentalists. On cue, a BJP legislator said he would introduce a private member’s bill to ban certification of food by any “private organisation”.

Only last month, as I wrote in my last column, a BJP MP demanded that two domes of a bus stop in Mysuru be demolished because, of course, it looked like a mosque. Fifteen days later, the domes were gone. Concerted assaults have been made, with considerable success, on Muslim customs, food and livelihoods. We have now reached the point where Christians in Bengaluru seek police protection to sing carols.

In neighbouring Maharashtra, this week, came news that the coalition government in which the BJP is a partner was setting up a committee headed by BJP MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha to track inter-faith and inter-caste marriage, ostensibly to enable rapprochement between women and their “estranged” families. The decision was apparently a reaction to viral social-media messages that demonised all Muslim men after a Muslim man murdered and chopped up his Hindu girlfriend, the kind of gruesome murder that is all too common in India but mostly ignored, until this one.

Quite apart from the fact that the Maharashtra government move disregarded the agency of women and was dangerously intrusive and menacing – the committee will gather details of such marriages and contact such couples – it appeared illegal and unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, in BJP-run Madhya Pradesh this week, home minister Narottam Mishra, a conscientious objector of films or television series he deems anti-Hindu, took offence with the saffron-coloured attire of a movie star, who he said in any case supported the “tukde-tukde” gang, another trope that claims liberals and minorities want to splinter India.

Far from being indications of a strong and resurgent India – as the government claims is unfolding under Narendra Modi – a list of knee-jerk decisions and declarations made without regard to the law, indicate how easily the whims of Hindu fundamentalists are becoming State policy. When the mob dictates State policy, the State echoes the demands and concerns of the mob. That is what is happening in the Modi era.

The Indian mob has always had an impact on the State. Once the State gives in, a new normal is established and recovery to the old can take a generation or more. Recent Indian history is replete with examples. By encouraging non-State actors to radicalise society – and increasingly blurring the line between them and the state – Modi is repeating the follies of the past on a grander, more ominous scale.

Recall how the Congress party’s appeasement of Sikh preacher Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale quickly escalated into an insurgency that consumed thousands of lives and the rule of law. The violent quelling of Bhindranwale and his mob angered the Sikhs, leading to a mutiny by some Sikh army units and the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her own Sikh bodyguards. Then came the pogrom, as mobs slaughtered Sikhs on Delhi’s streets in 1984 with the implicit approval of the Congress government.

The events that led eventually to the rise of Modi are also rooted in appeasement by Congress governments led by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao. The latter essentially stood by while LK Advani’s rath yatra in 1990 left a bloody trail of anti-Muslim riots and culminated in the destruction of the Babri Masjid two years later, an event that marked the beginning of the end for the Congress ideology as we knew it.

One could argue that India in the Modi era has not been convulsed by events of the magnitude of the Sikh rebellion and the fall of the Babri Masjid. But the last eight years have been marked by an unceasing drip of real and virtual violence: lynchings, abuse, and demonisation of minorities and growing state support to such anarchy. In March, the expert who foresaw the Rwandan genocide, warned that India was at similar risk.

The courts and the media in new India largely do not engage with substantive issues that translate mob whim into State policy and a large part of a citizenry is anaesthetised into an approving silence. With State, social, and institutional capacity to maintain the rule of law steadily – and, often, deliberately – eroded, it is uncertain what is on the horizon.

Modi must consider the bloody lessons of India’s recent history, as his government encourages, appeases, and empowers the mob. He ignores these at the peril of all Indians.

Samar Halarnkar is the editor of Article-14.com, a project that tracks misuse of the law and the hope it offers.