India | Religious and communal Violence in India

Bilkis Bano | Gujrat Riot

Religious and communal Violence in India


India | New Delhi

Secularism and Indian Constitution

The Indian constitution clearly contains the fundamental ideas of secularism in a number of its provisions.

The Preamble to the Constitution declared India to be a "secular" country with the passage of the 42nd Amendment to the Indian Constitution (1976). A secular state is one that does not give the nation or its citizens a preference for any one faith. Institutions began to appreciate pluralism, acknowledge and accept all religions, and enact legislative legislation in place of religious ones.

People of different religions and castes have the liberty to pray to their respective gods as per their faith and beliefs. Different castes of people are living together with equality. The Indian Constitution gives them the right to equality.

With so many people of different religions living together, there is also conflict between them from time to time. Some political leaders and bad elements are using these differences for their own political gain and spreading hate.

Religious violence in India

Religion and violence are frequently seen as phenomena that coexist in today's world. Many faiths are criticised for having an inherent tendency toward violence, and Western, secularised nations frequently criticise the intimate connection between religion and politics in many non-Western nations as a breeding ground for violent extremism.

Humans are currently living on the precipice of doom because everyone in society and in every nation looks forward to damage, injury, and their constant tendency to berate others. These actions have led to an increase in illegal lying, cheating, and other such behaviours. Therefore, we have developed illegal indulgences in the scientific and technological fields. Why doesn't society have a tranquil, harmonious lifestyle? By the time the 21st century is over, we already find ourselves in a difficult scenario due to population expansion. As a result, in the name of development, humans have contaminated the air, the water, and the land.

India, where traditionally Hindu and Muslim populations have battled to coexist, is possibly the country where Muslim and Hindu conflict is most acute. In addition to different theologies, this conflict also involves conflicting lifestyles. Differences between Muslim and Hindu communities, such as those in cuisine, views on gender, and social expectations and behaviour, might make it difficult for these two religious groups to live in harmony. 

Role of political parties

Many social scientists believe that many of these acts of violence are institutionally encouraged, especially by political parties and groups affiliated with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Hindu nationalist volunteer organisation (RSS). The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena are specifically blamed by academics for their involvement in these violent occurrences and for utilising violence against Muslims as part of a bigger electoral plan. For instance, according to studies by Raheel Dhattiwala and Michael Biggs, the number of murders is significantly greater in places where the BJP faces fierce political opposition than in areas where it already has a strong presence. In 1989, there were more planned attacks against Muslims in the north of India, and the BJP gained more ground in local and state elections. Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah, a social anthropologist, comes to the conclusion that the bloodshed in Moradabad in 1980, Hashimpura in 1987, and Bhagalpur in 1989 was the result of planned killings. Ram Puniyani claims that the violence in the 1990s and the 2002 unrest were factors in the Shiv Sena's election victory and the BJP's victory in Gujarat. Gyan Prakash warns, however, that the BJP's behaviour in Gujarat does not represent all of India, and it is yet unclear whether the Hindutva movement has been effective in implementing this policy across the country.

Religious prejudice gives rise to discrimination and hatred, which subsequently manifest as such violence. Some ill-intentioned and malevolent individuals profit from spreading fanaticism. Informing them attracts their interest. The stars and politicians of religion are the largest gainers from religious zeal. They are all taking use of their power and might by deflecting the public's attention.

India is a secular nation where many different religions are respected. Each person casts a different number of votes in this. A party loses and has no chance of winning if a certain religious community votes together and in favour of one candidate. Additionally, this solidarity is divided and the electorate is polarised by religious fundamentalism and hatred. Violence committed by members of one religious group against members and institutions of another religious group, frequently in the form of riots, is referred to as religious violence in India. In India, both Muslims and Hindus are frequently the victims of religious violence.

Despite having a secular and religiously tolerant constitution, India has a very diverse religious population, which is reflected in many aspects of society, including the government. Autonomous organisations like the National Commission for Minorities and the National Human Rights Commission of India also play an active role in the country. Due to the fact that the origins of religious violence frequently go back far into India's history, religious practises, and politics, there are occasionally major and intermittent acts of religious violence committed by non-governmental organisations.

Saints and politicians in India started shouting hate speech in various gatherings after 2014. They are all spreading hatred and directing it at a specific group of people. They are inciting India's Hindus to turn against them. All of this has led to an increase in the number of instances of intercommunal violence across the nation. The most recent of these events occurred in Delhi's Jahangirpuri, where nine people were hurt when fighting broke out during a procession in honour of Hanuman Jayanti. Seven police officers were also hurt.

Communal riots increased in India since 2014

According to the statistics, there were 857 incidents of communal violence in 2020, which is 94% more than in 2019. The main reason for the sudden spurt in incidents of communal violence is Delhi. There were only two incidents of communal riots in Delhi between 2014 and 2019, but after that, in 2020, there were 520 incidents of communal riots in Delhi, increasing the violence figures across the country.

Recently, the Home Ministry told the Indian Parliament that 3,399 cases of communal and religious riots were reported in the country between 2016 and 2020. This figure is quite accurate and also matches the NCRB figures. Based on NCRB data, 5417 incidents of communal riots were registered between 2014 and 2020.

Domestic organisations as well as international human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch publish reports on acts of religious violence in India. From 2005 to 2009, communal violence resulted in an average of 130 deaths per year, or about 0.01 deaths per 100,000 people. The state of Maharashtra reported the highest number of deaths related to religious violence during that five-year period, while Madhya Pradesh experienced the highest death rate per 100,000 population per year between 2005 and 2009. In 2012, a total of 97 people died across India in various riots related to religious violence.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom classified India as Tier 2 in persecuting religious minorities, on a par with Iraq and Egypt.

In a 2018 report, USCIRF accused Hindu nationalist groups of "saffronizing" India through violence, intimidation, and harassment against non-Hindus. Nearly one-third of state governments enforced anti-conversion and/or anti-cow slaughter laws against non-Hindus, and mobs engaged in violence against Muslims whose families had been engaged in the dairy, leather, or beef trade for generations and Christians for proselytising against them. In 2017, "cow protection" lynch mobs killed at least 10 victims.

Many historians argue that religious violence in independent India is a legacy of the "divide and rule" policy adopted by the British colonial authorities during the era of British control of the Indian subcontinent, in which local administrators divided Hindus and Muslims as part of a strategy pitting them against each other that resulted in the partition of India. Taking advantage of this dissension, the British divided India into three parts and weakened it.

The India and its people are in danger. the development of the country is at a standstill; people are becoming entangled in Hindu-Muslim politics, and their employment opportunities are being ended. They did not get a job; the country's economy collapsed. The country is going backward, forgetting religion and caste; if we do not recognise the danger, then everything will be end.

History of communal riots in India

The riots of 1947

An estimated 25,000–29,000 Hindu and Sikh women and 12,000–15,000 Muslim women were abducted, raped, converted, and murdered in the post-Partition violence in 1947. In a way, the frenzy of racial annihilation was filling the hearts of the rioters, and they were killing and looting.

How many Muslims died in the 2002 Gujarat riots?

According to government figures, 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed and 223 went missing in the 2002 Gujarat riots. About 2500 people were injured in this riot.

The 1984 anti-Sikh riots started in Delhi after the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and spread across the country in no time. On October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two Sikh guards close to her. According to India's news agency, PTI, about 2733 people died in these riots in Delhi alone.

1989 Bhagalpur (Bihar) riot

On October 24, 1989, incidents of religious violence took place in the Bhagalpur district of Bihar for more than two months. This violence affected Bhagalpur city and 250 villages around it. More than 1,000 people were killed in the violence, and another 5,000 were displaced. This violence is known as the most serious Hindu-Muslim violence in independent India.

1992 Mumbai riots

The demolition of the Babri Masjid by Hindu fundamentalists had a direct bearing on the 1992 Mumbai riots. Officially, 900 people were killed, 2036 were injured, and thousands were internally displaced by the mob riots and firing by the police. The destruction of the Babri Masjid was the "final provocation" of the riots.

Muzaffarnagar violence

In the year 2013, between August and September, there was a clash between Hindus and Muslims in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh. At least 62 people, including 42 Muslims and 20 Hindus, were killed in this riot. About 200 people were injured, and more than 50,000 people had to be displaced.

Delhi riots of 2020

In the 2020 Hindu-Muslim riots in Delhi, 53 people were killed and more than 200 were seriously injured. These riots were dubbed "sponsored" by some.



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