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Religious violence in India

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Title: Religious violence in India  
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Subject: Ethnic relations in India, Caste-related violence in India, Social issues in India, Secularism in India, Crime in India
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Religious violence in India

Religious violence in India includes acts of violence by followers of one religious group against followers and institutions of another religious group, often in the form of rioting.[1] Religious violence in India, especially in recent times, has generally involved Hindus and Muslims,[2] although incidents of violence have also involved Christians, Jews, and Sikhs. There is also history of Muslim – Parsee riots (List of riots in Mumbai).

Despite the secular and religiously tolerant

  • Varshney-Wilkinson Dataset on Hindu-Muslim Violence in India, 1950–1995, Version 2
  • Religion based violence and communalism, People's Union for Civil Liberties
  • Communal History of India, From 1947 to 2013
  • Varshney-Wilkinson Dataset on Hindu-Muslim Violence in India, 1950-1995, Version 2 (ICPSR 4342)

External links

  • Violence against Christians continues
  • Next Stop Orissa
  • Religious intolerance in India PDF
  • Sangh Parivar makes it a bloodthirsty Sunday for Muslims and Christians
  • Vandals in Orissa
  • Communal Violence and the Denial of Justice
  • The Danger of Hindutva to Secular India
  • UK charities scam linked to Sangh Parivar


  • "Violence Against Women | Domestic Violence Information Cell | Support | Advise | Shelter". Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
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  199. ^ "Ayodhya excavation: Digging for trouble". 13 March 2003. 
  200. ^ Bombay Riots (1993),The Times Group
  201. ^ Gujarat riot death toll revealed,BBC
  202. ^ BJP cites govt statistics to defend Modi,Indian Express
  203. ^ 254 Hindus, 790 Muslims killed in post-Godhra riots,
  204. ^ Human Rights Watch 2006, p. 265.
  205. ^ Why is Narendra Modi in Wembley?,The Guardian
  206. ^ "India's Calculated Ethnic Violence". Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  207. ^ "Communal violence and nuclear stand-off". Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  208. ^ Dargis, Manohla. "India in crisis". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
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  210. ^ Dugger, Celia W. Hindu Rioters Kill 60 Muslims in India New York Times. New York, N.Y.:1 March 2002. [1]
  211. ^ "People Wanted Revenge And Got It". Outlook. 18 March 2002. 
  212. ^ "Muslim forum flays RSS resolution". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 19 March 2002. 
  213. ^ "Sectarian violence in India". The Economist. 1 May 2002. 
  214. ^ "NGO says Gujarat riots were planned". BBC News Online. 19 March 2002. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  215. ^ "Implementation of Sachar Committee recommendations". Press Information Bureau, Government of India. 13 July 2009. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  216. ^ "Sachar Committee Report". Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India. 5 March 2014. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  217. ^ a b c "Anti-Christian Violence on the Rise in India". 
  218. ^ Ram Puniyani (2003). Communal Politics: Facts Versus Myths. SAGE. pp. p167.  
  219. ^ "Orissa carnage: Christian group demands CBI probe". The Times of India. 30 December 2007. 
  220. ^ "India: Stop Hindu-Christian Violence in Orissa". 
  221. ^ "Stop the hate crime". 
  222. ^ a b "Fresh violence in Orissa, curfew continues". 
  223. ^ "Church Attack: Indefinite curfew in Orissa". 
  224. ^ a b Hindu Extremists Attack Indian Churches, Torch Home of Prominent Christian
  225. ^ Catholic priest killed in Mathura
  226. ^ INDIA
  227. ^ The Staines case verdict V. Venkatesan, Frontline Magazine, 11–23 Oct 2003
  228. ^ "Foreign News: Ex-Butterfly". Time. 6 June 1932. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  229. ^ "His faith, our faith - Hindustan Times". Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  230. ^ a b "US rights report slams India for anti-Christian violence". 27 February 1999. Retrieved 17 December 2007. 
  231. ^ "150-yr-old church set afire in Madhya Pradesh". The Times of India. 20 September 2008. 
  232. ^ "Protest in Delhi over violence against Christians - Thaindian News". Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  233. ^ Bajrang Dal launches campaign,The Tribune
  234. ^ "We killed Swami, Maoists say again" (Press release). The Times of India. 6 October 2008. Retrieved 5 October 2008. 
  235. ^ 'Majority of Maoist supporters in Orissa are Christians' The Hindu – 5 October 2008
  236. ^ 3 arrested in Laxmanananda murder case Indian Express – 7 October 2008
  237. ^ Net closes in on Cong MP for Orissa swami’s murder Indian Express – 27 December 2008
  238. ^ Human Rights Watch World Report 2006
  239. ^ "Kerala Communal Clashes: 62 get life for killing 8".  
  240. ^ a b Marad can yet be retrieved
  241. ^ IMC India – 8 Hindus hacked to death by muslim mob in kerala
  242. ^ NDF behind Marad massacre?
  243. ^ Bandyopadhyay, Sabyasachi (14 September 2010). "'"Riot-scarred Deganga says Trinamool MP 'main villain. Indian Express (Kolkata). Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  244. ^ Caesar Mandal (20 February 2013). "Violence after villager murder". Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  245. ^ "West Bengal: 200 homes torched, shops ransacked in riots".  
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  252. ^ B.R. Ambedkar, PAKISTAN OR THE PARTITION OF INDIA Chapter 7, Archived by Columbia University
  253. ^ 107 killed in riots this year; 66 Muslims, 41 Hindus The Hindustan Times (24 September 2013)
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  255. ^ "". 2007. 
  256. ^ "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices". The government generally respected the rights of its citizens; however, numerous serious problems remained 
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  258. ^ ANDRES OPPENHEIMER (13 March 2006). "U.S. Rights Report Should Include U.S. Abuses". Salt Lake Tribune. 
  259. ^ "US human rights report spares allies". Melbourne: The Age. 10 March 2006. 
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  262. ^ "India not bound by Bush administration: Lok Sabha". ExpressIndia. 14 March 2008. Responding to the point made by Dasgupta, Speaker Somnath Chatterjee observed the report should be 'ignored with contempt it deserves'. "We are not bound by the Bush administration," he said. 
  263. ^ Bumbai (1995) IMDB
  264. ^ Earth (1998) IMDB
  265. ^ Fiza (2000) IMDB
  266. ^ Hey Ram (2000) IMDB
  267. ^ Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002) IMDB
  268. ^ Final Solution (2003) IMDB
  269. ^ Black Friday (2004) IMDB
  270. ^ Parzania (2005) IMDB
  271. ^ Parzania not screened in Gujarat
  272. ^ Cinema at its very best... and then some not quite so at all
  273. ^ a b "International Religious Freedom Report 2007:India". 


See also

Religious violence in India have been a topic of various films and novels.

In film and literature

  • The 2007 [257][258][259][260] as it does not include human rights violations of United States and its allies, has generally been rejected by political parties in India as interference in internal affairs,[261] including in the Lower House of Parliament.[262]
  • The 2007 Amnesty International report listed several issues concern in India and noted Justice and rehabilitation continued to evade most victims of the 2002 Gujarat communal violence.[255]
  • The 2008 Human Rights Watch report notes: India claims an abiding commitment to human rights, but its record is marred by continuing violations by security forces in counterinsurgency operations and by government failure to rigorously implement laws and policies to protect marginalised communities. A vibrant media and civil society continue to press for improvements, but without tangible signs of success in 2007.[7]
  • The 2007 United States Department of State International Religious Freedom Report noted The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the National Government generally respected this right in practice. However, some state and local governments limited this freedom in practice.[254]

International human rights reports

For 2012,[9] there were 93 deaths in India from many incidences of communal violence (or 0.007 fatalities per 100,000 people). Of these, 48 were Muslims, 44 Hindus and one police official. The riots also injured 2,067 people, of which 1,010 were Hindus, 787 Muslims, 222 police officials and 48 others. Over 2013, 107 people were killed during religious riots (or 0.008 total fatalities per 100,000 people), of which 66 were Muslims, 41 were Hindus. The various riots in 2013 also injured 1,647 people including 794 Hindus, 703 Muslims and 200 policemen.[9][253]

According to PRS India,[8] 24 out of 35 states and union territories of India reported instances of religious riots over the 5 year 2005–2009 period. However, most religious riots resulted in property damage but no injuries or fatalities. The highest incidences of communal violence in the 5-year period were reported from Maharashtra (700). The other three states with high counts of communal violence over the same 5 year period were Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa. Together, these four states accounted for 64% of all deaths from communal violence. Adjusted for widely different population per state, the highest rate of communal violence fatalities were reported by Madhya Pradesh, at 0.14 death per 100,000 people over 5 years, or 0.03 deaths per 100,000 people per year.[8] There was a wide regional variation in rate of death caused by communal violence per 100,000 people. The India-wide average communal violence fatality rate per year was 0.01 person per 100,000 people per year. The world's average annual death rate from intentional violence, in recent years, has been 7.9 per 100,000 people.[10]

Over 2005 to 2009 period, an average of 130 people died every year from communal riots, and 2,200 were injured.[8] In pre-partitioned India, over the 1920–1940 period, numerous communal violence incidents were recorded, an average of 381 people died per year during religious violence, and thousands were injured.[252]

Riots incidence rates per 100000 people in India during 2012. Kerala reported the highest riot incidence rate in 2012, while Punjab and Meghalaya reported zero riot incidence rates.


Religious violence has led to the death, injuries and damage to numerous Hindus.[246][247] For example, 254 Hindus were killed in 2002 Gujarat riots out of which half were killed in police firing and rest by rioters.[248][249][250] During 1992 Bombay riots, 275 Hindus died.[251]

In the 2010 Deganga riots after hundreds of Hindu business establishments and residences were looted, destroyed and burnt, dozens of Hindus were severely injured and several Hindu temples desecrated and vandalised by the Islamist mobs led by Trinamul Congress MP Haji Nurul Islam.[243] Three years later, during the 2013 Canning riots, several hundred Hindu businesses were targeted and destroyed by Islamist mobs in the Indian state of West Bengal.[244][245]

On 3 and 4 January 2002, three Marad Massacre.[242]

Lesser incidents of religious violence happen in many towns and villages in India. In October 2005, five people were killed in Mau in Uttar Pradesh during Hindu-Muslim rioting, which was triggered by the proposed celebration of a Hindu festival.[238]

In August 2000, Swami [234][235]), allegedly due to the Guru's provocative opposition of Christians' conversion activities and Missionary propaganda. Later the police arrested three Christians in connection with the murder.[236] Congress MP Radhakant Nayak has also been named as a suspected person in the murder, with some Hindu leaders calling for his arrest.[237]

There have been a number of more recent attacks on Hindu temples and Hindus by Muslim militants. Prominent among them are the 1998 Chamba massacre, the 2002 fidayeen attacks on Raghunath temple, the 2002 Akshardham Temple attack allegedly perpetrated by Islamic terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba[233] and the 2006 Varanasi bombings (supposedly perpetrated by Lashkar-e-Toiba), resulting in many deaths and injuries. Recent attacks on Hindus by Muslim mobs include Marad massacre, Godhra train burning etc.

The passage to the permanent Durga mandap at Chattalpalli was being dug up to prevent the Hindus from entering the area.

Anti-Hindu violence

In Madhya Pradesh, unidentified persons set two Statues inside St Peter and Paul Church in Jabalpur on fire.[231] In Karnataka, religious violence was targeted against Christians in 2008.[232]

In its annual human rights reports for 1999, the United States Department of State criticised India for "increasing societal violence against Christians."[230] The report listed over 90 incidents of anti-Christian violence, ranging from damage of religious property to violence against Christian pilgrims.[230]

In 2007, foreign Christian missionaries became targets of attacks.[224] An Australian missionary, was burnt to death while he was sleeping in his station wagon at Manoharpur village in Keonjhar district in Orissa in January 1999.[217][224][225][226] In 2003, Dara Singh was convicted of leading the gang responsible.[227][228][229]

In Orissa, starting December 2007, Christians have been attacked in Kandhamal and other districts, resulting in the deaths of two Hindus and one Christian, and the destruction of houses and churches. Hindus claim that Christians killed a Hindu saint Laxmananand, and the attacks on Christians were in retaliation. However there was no conclusive proof to support this claim.[219][220][221][222][223] Twenty people were arrested following the attacks on churches.[222] Similarly, starting 14 September 2008, there were numerous incidents of violence against the Christian community in Karnataka.

A 1999 Human Rights Watch report states increasing levels of religious violence on Christians in India, perpetrated by Hindu organizations.[217][218] In 2000, acts of religious violence against Christians included forcible reconversion of converted Christians to Hinduism, distribution of threatening literature and destruction of Christian cemeteries.[217]

Anti-Christian violence

The Government of India has implemented almost all the recommendations of the Sachar Committee to help Muslims.[215][216]

Tens of thousands were displaced from their homes because of the violence. According to New York Times reporter Celia Williams Dugger, witnesses were dismayed by the lack of intervention from local police, who often watched the events taking place and took no action against the attacks on Muslims and their property.[210] Sangh leaders[211][212] as well as the Gujarat government[213][214] maintain that the violence was rioting or inter-communal clashes — spontaneous and uncontrollable reaction to the Godhra train burning.

The Godhra train burning incident in which Hindus were burned alive allegedly by Muslims by closing door of train, led to the 2002 Gujarat riots in which mostly Muslims were killed in an act of retaliation. According to the death toll given to the parliament on 11 May 2005 by the government, 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed, and another 2,548 injured. 223 people are missing. The report placed the number of riot widows at 919 and 606 children were declared orphaned.[201][202][203] According to hone advocacy group, the death tolls were up to 2000.[204][205][206][207][208] According to the Congressional Research Service, up to 2000 people were killed in the violence.[209]

Many Ahmedabad's buildings were set on fire during 2002 Gujarat violence.

In the aftermath of the destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya by Hindu nationalists on 6 December 1992, riots took place between Hindus and Muslims in the city of Mumbai. Four people died in a fire in the Asalpha timber mart at Ghatkopar, five were killed in the burning of Bainganwadi; shacks along the harbour line track between Sewri and Cotton Green stations were gutted; and a couple was pulled out of a rickshaw in Asalpha village and burnt to death.[200] The riots changed the demographics of Mumbai greatly, as Hindus moved to Hindu-majority areas and Muslims moved to Muslim-majority areas.

On 6 December 1992, members of the Vishva Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal destroyed the 430-year-old Babri Mosque in Ayodhya[194][195] - it was claimed by the Hindus that the mosque was built over the birthplace of the ancient deity Rama (and a 2010 Allahabad court ruled that the site was indeed a Hindu monument before the mosque was built there, based on evidence submitted by the Archaeological Survey of India[196]). This action allegedly caused humiliation to the Muslim community. The resulting religious riots caused at least 1200 deaths.[197][198] Since then the Government of India has blocked off or heavily increased security at these disputed sites while encouraging attempts to resolve these disputes through court cases and negotiations.[199]

The history of modern India has many incidents of communal violence. The 1947 partition saw religious violence between Muslim-Hindu, Muslim-Sikhs and Muslim-Jains on a gigantic scale.[22] Hundreds of religious riots have been recorded since then, in every decade of independent India. In these riots, the victims have included numerous Muslims, as well as Hindus, Sikhs, Jainsm Christians and Buddhists.

Anti-Muslim violence

According to The Government of Tripura, the Baptist Church of Tripura is involved in supporting the NLFT and arrested two church officials in 2000, one of them for possessing explosives.[191] In late 2004, the National Liberation Front of Tripura banned all Hindu celebrations of Durga Puja and Saraswati Puja.[192] The Naga insurgency, militants have attempted to exploit Christian ideological base for their cause.[193]

The separatist group National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) has proclaimed bans on Hindu worship and has attacked animist Reangs and Hindu Jamatia tribesmen in the state of Tripura. Some resisting tribal leaders have been killed and their womenfolk raped. The RSS has attempted to counter Christian separatist groups by backing Reang and Jamatia tribals, and has called for the central government to help arm and fund them.[188] Hindu nationalists link the overt Christian religiosity of the groups and the local churches' liberation theology-based doctrine to allege church support for ethnic separatism.[188] Vatsala Vedantam identifies statements from the American Baptist Churches USA as endorsing the Naga separatist cause.[190]

Religion has begun to play an increasing role in reinforcing ethnic divides among the decades old militant separatist movements in north-east India.[187][188][189]

Religious involvement in North-East India Militancy

Many Kashmiri Pandits have been killed by Islamist militants in incidents such as the Wandhama massacre and the 2000 Amarnath pilgrimage massacre.[182][183][184][185][186] The incidents of massacring and forced eviction have been termed ethnic cleansing by some observers.[178]

Since March 1990, estimates of between 300,000 to 500,000 pandits have migrated outside Kashmir[179] due to persecution by Islamic fundamentalists in the largest case of ethnic cleansing since the partition of India.[180] The proportion of Kashmiri Pandits in the Kashmir valley has declined from about 15% in 1947 to, by some estimates, less than 0.1% since the insurgency in Kashmir took on a religious and sectarian flavour.[181]

In the Kashmir region, approximately 300 Kashmiri Pandits were killed between September 1989 to 1990 in various incidents.[178] In early 1990, local Urdu newspapers Aftab and Al Safa called upon Kashmiris to wage jihad against India and ordered the expulsion of all Hindus choosing to remain in Kashmir.[178] In the following days masked men ran in the streets with AK-47 shooting to kill Hindus who would not leave.[178] Notices were placed on the houses of all Hindus, telling them to leave within 24 hours or die.[178]

Ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus

The 1984 riots fueled the Sikh insurgency movement. In the peak years of the insurgency, religious violence by separatists, government-sponsored groups, and the paramilitary arms of the government was endemic on all sides. Human Rights Watch reports that separatists were responsible for "massacre of civilians, attacks upon Hindu minorities in the state, indiscriminate bomb attacks in crowded places, and the assassination of a number of political leaders".[174] Human Rights Watch also stated that the Indian Government's response "led to the arbitrary detention, torture, extrajudicial execution, and enforced disappearance of thousands of Sikhs".[174] The insurgency paralyzed Punjab's economy until peace initiatives and elections were held in 1990s.[174] Allegations of coverup and shielding of political leaders of Indian National Congress over their role in 1984 riot crimes, have been widespread.[175][176][177]

The assassination provoked mass rioting against Sikh.[169] During the 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms in Delhi, government and police officials aided Indian National Congress party worker gangs in "methodically and systematically" targeting Sikhs and Sikh homes.[172] As a result of the pogroms 10,000–17,000 were burned alive or otherwise killed, Sikh people suffered massive property damage, and at least 50,000 Sikhs were displaced.[173]

After the Emergency was lifted, during elections, she supported Jarnail Bhindranwale, a Sikh leader, in an effort to undermine the Akali Dal, the largest Sikh political party. However, Bhindranwale began to oppose the central government and moved his political base to the Darbar Sahib (Golden temple) in Amritsar, demanding creation on Punjab as a new country.[169] In June 1984, under orders from Indira Gandhi, the Indian army attacked the Golden temple with tanks and armoured vehicles. Thousands of Sikhs died during the attack.[169] In retaliation for the storming of the Golden temple, Indira Gandhi was assassinated on 31 October 1984 by two Sikh bodyguards.

In the 1970s, Sikhs in Punjab had sought autonomy and complained about domination by the Hindu.[169] Indira Gandhi government arrested thousands of Sikhs for their opposition and demands particularly during Indian Emergency.[169][170] In Indira Gandhi's attempt to "save democracy" through the Emergency, India's constitution was suspended, 140,000 people were arrested without due process, of which 40,000 were Sikhs.[171]

Anti-Sikh Riots (1984)

The rioting started after an attack on a Hindu temple in Ahmedabad, but rapidly expanded to major cities and towns of Gujarat.[166] The violence included attacks on Muslim chawls by their Dalit Hindu neighbours.[165] The violence continued over a week, then the rioting restarted a month later.[166][167] Some 660 people were killed (430 Muslims, rest Hindus), 1074 people were injured and over 48,000 lost their property.[165][168]

Religious violence broke out between Hindus and Muslims during September–October 1969, in Gujarat.[163] It was the most deadly Hindu-Muslim violence since the 1947 partition of India.[164][165]

Gujarat communal riots (1969)

Large-scale religious violence and riots have periodically occurred in India since its independence from British colonial rule.

In 2010, after an article penned by Taslima Nasrin appeared in a local newspaper, some considered it offensive to Islam. Religious violence shook Shimoga Karnataka with widespread arson (shown above) and looting. Two people died and 100 were injured.[162]

Modern India

Although a partition plan was accepted, no large population movements were contemplated. As India and Pakistan become independent, 14.5 million people crossed borders to ensure their safety in an increasingly lawless and communal environment. With British authority gone, the newly formed governments were completely unequipped to deal with migrations of such staggering magnitude, and massive violence and slaughter occurred on both sides of the border along communal lines. Estimates of the number of deaths range around roughly 500,000, with low estimates at 200,000 and high estimates at 1,000,000.[161]

[161] became increasingly concerned about minority position of Islam in an independent India largely composed of a Hindu majority.Mohammad Ali Jinnah In the years leading up to Independence, [160] After the

Direct Action Day, which started on 16 August 1946, left approximately 3000 dead and 17000 injured.[158][159]

As colonial rule in the Indian subcontinent was ending, there was large-scale religious violence.[158] Corpses with vultures in Kolkata after the 1946 riots (left), a Jain neighborhood and Hindu temple after arson attacks in Ahmedabad in 1946 (middle) and Sikhs escaping violence across the Indo-Pakistani Punjab border in 1947.

Partition of British India (1947)

Annie Besant wrote about the riots: "They Moplahs murdered and plundered abundantly, and killed or drove away all Hindus who would not apostatise. Somewhere about a lakh (100,000) of people were driven from their homes with nothing but their clothes they had on, stripped of everything. Malabar has taught us what Islamic rule still means, and we do not want to see another specimen of the Khilafat Raj in India."[156]

According to one view, the reasons for the Moplah rebellion was religious revivalism among the Muslim Mappilas, and hostility towards the landlord Hindu Nair, Nambudiri Jenmi community and the British administration that supported the latter. Adhering to view, British records call it a British-Muslim revolt. The initial focus was on the government, but when the limited presence of the government was eliminated, Moplahs turned their full attention on attacking Hindus. Mohommed Haji was proclaimed the Caliph of the Moplah Khilafat and flags of Islamic Caliphate were flown. Ernad and Walluvanad were declared Khilafat kingdoms.[157]

Moplah Rebellion was an Anti Hindu rebellion conducted by the Muslim Mappila community (Moplah is a British spelling) of Kerala in 1921. Inspired by the Khilafat movement and the Karachi resolution; Moplahs murdered, pillaged, and forcibly converted thousands of Hindus.[154][155] 100,000 Hindus[156] were driven away from their homes forcing to leave their property behind, which were later took over by Mappilas. This greatly changed the demographics of the area, being the major cause behind today's Malappuram district being a Muslim majority district in Kerala.[157]

Moplah Rebellion (1921)

Bengal was partitioned by the British, in 1905, along religious lines - a Muslim majority state of East Bengal and a Hindu majority state of West Bengal.[152] The partition was deeply resented, seen by both groups as evidence of British favoritism to the other side. Waves of religious riots hit Bengal through 1907. The religious violence worsened, and the partition was reversed in 1911. The reversal did little to calm the religious violence in India, and Bengal alone witnessed dozens of violent riots, between Muslims and Hindus, in 1910s through the 1930s.[151][153]

The British colonial era, since the 18th century, portrayed and treated Hindus and Muslims as two divided groups, both in cultural terms and for the purposes of governance.[150] The colonists favored Muslims in the early period of colonialism to gain influence in Mughal India, but underwent a shift in policies after the 1857 rebellion. A series of religious riots in late 19th century, such as those of 1891, 1896 and 1897 religious riots of Calcutta, raised concerns within British Raj.[151] The rising political movement for independence of India, and colonial government's administrative strategies to neutralize it, pressed the British to make the first attempt to partition the most populous province of India, Bengal.[152]

Partition of Bengal (1905)

The perception that the company was trying to convert Hindus and Muslims to Christianity is often cited as one of the causes of the revolt. The revolt is considered by some historians as a semi-national and religious war seeking independence from British rule[146][147] though Saul David questions this interpretation.[148] The revolt started, among the Indian soldiers of British East India Company, when the British introduced new rifle cartridges, rumoured to be greased with pig and cow fat — an abhorrent concept to Muslim and Hindu soldiers, respectively, for religious reasons. However, in the aftermath of the revolt, British reprisals were particularly severe with hundreds of thousands being killed. While the death toll is often debated by historians with figures ranging between one hundred thousand and one million, it is usually agreed that several hundred thousands were killed.[149]

In 1813, the East India Company charter was amended to allow for government sponsored missionary activity across British India.[143] The missionaries soon spread almost everywhere and started denigrating Hinduism and Islam, besides promoting Christianity, to seek converts.[144] Many officers of the British East India Company, such as Herbert Edwardes and Colonel S.G. Wheeler, openly preached to the Sepoys.[145] Such activities caused a great deal of resentment and fear of forced conversions among Indian soldiers of the Company and civilians alike.[144]

Indian Rebellion of 1857

"Oh Almighty God! dispose the whole body of infidels! Scatter their tribe, cause their feet to stagger! Overthrow their councils, change their state, destroy their very root! Cause death to be near them, cut off from them the means of sustenance! Shorten their days! Be their bodies the constant object of their cares (i.e., infest them with diseases), deprive their eyes of sight, make black their faces (i.e., bring shame)."

Historians[140][141] state Tipu Sultan's reign illustrates "religious fanaticism and the excesses committed in the name of religion". The following is a translation of an inscription on the stone found at Seringapatam, which was situated in a conspicuous place in the fort:[142]

"Don't you know I have achieved a great victory recently in Malabar and over four lakh Hindus were converted to Islam? I am determined to march against that cursed Raman Nair (Rajah of Travancore) very soon. Since I am overjoyed at the prospect of converting him and his subjects to Islam, I have happily abandoned the idea of going back to Srirangapatanam now."[139]

In 1788, Tipu ordered his governor in Calicut Sher Khan to begin the process of converting Hindus to Islam, and in July of that year, 200 Brahmins were forcibly converted and made to eat beef.[138] Tipu sent a letter on 19 January 1790 to the Governor of Bekal, Budruz Zuman Khan. It says:

"We proceeded with the utmost speed, and, at once, made prisoners of 40,000 occasion-seeking and sedition-exciting Coorgis, who alarmed at the approach of our victorious army, had slunk into woods, and concealed themselves in lofty mountains, inaccessible even to birds. Then carrying them away from their native country, we raised them to the honour of Islam."

[137] In a letter to Runmust Khan, Tipu himself stated:[136] Runmust Khan, the [136][135] In 1783, the Kodavas revolted and became subject of Tipu Sultan led religious violence.

Hindus, particularly the Nair and Kodava communities were also persecuted by Tipu Sultan. They were subjected to forcible conversions to Islam, death, and torture.[127][128] The Nairs were treated with extreme brutality by the Muslims for their Hindu faith and martial tradition.[129][130][131] The captivity ended when Nair troops from Travancore, with the help of the East India Company defeated Tippu Sultan in the Third Anglo-Mysore War.[132][133] It is estimated that out of the 30,000 Nairs put to captivity (including women and children), most perished.[133][134]

Religious violence against Hindus

During the surrender of the Mangalore fort which was delivered in an armistice by the British and their subsequent withdrawal, all the Mestizos and remaining non-British foreigners were killed, together with 5,600 Mangalorean Catholics. Those condemned by Tipu Sultan for treachery were hanged instantly, the gibbets being weighed down by the number of bodies they carried. The Netravati River was so putrid with the stench of dying bodies, that the local residents were forced to leave their riverside homes.[116]

Tipu's persecution of Christians extended to captured British soldiers. For instance, there were a significant number of forced conversions of British captives between 1780 and 1784. Following their defeat at the 1780 Battle of Pollilur, 7,000 British men along with an unknown number of women were held captive by Tipu in the fortress of Seringapatnam.[126] Of these, over 300 were circumcised and given Muslim names and clothes and several British regimental drummer boys were forced to dance and entertain the court.[126]

Religious violence against British soldiers

Tipu Sultan's rule of the Malabar coast had an adverse impact on the Syrian Malabar Nasrani community. Many churches in the Malabar and Cochin were damaged, as well as old religious manuscripts were destroyed.[125] The destruction was systematic and witnessed over many years. Many Syrian Malabar Nasrani were killed or forcibly converted to Islam. Farms and property were also indiscriminately destroyed by the invading army. The Syrian Christian community fled to towns where there were already Christians. Some were given refuge in Cochin and Travancore.[125]

According to British Government records, 20,000 of them died on the march to Seringapatam. According to James Scurry, a British officer, who was held captive along with Mangalorean Catholics, 30,000 of them were forcibly converted to Islam. The young women and girls were forcibly made wives of the Muslims living there.[122] The young men who offered resistance were disfigured by cutting their noses, upper lips, and ears.[123] Anyone who escaped from Seringapatam, when found was punished under the orders of Tipu Sultan, by cutting off of the ears, nose, the feet and one hand.[124] The Archbishop of Goa wrote in 1800, about the oppression and sufferings experienced by the Christians under Tipu Sultan and Sultan's hatred of those who professed Christianity."[116]

According to Thomas Munro, around 60,000 people,[121] or 92 percent of the entire Mangalorean Catholic community, were captured by Tipu Sultan's army; only 7,000 escaped. They were force marched through the jungles and mountains of the Western Ghat range.[122]

Religious violence against the Mangalorean Catholic community

Tipu also ordered the destruction of 27 Catholic churches.[116] All were razed to the ground, with the exception of The Church of Holy Cross at Hospet, a demolition that was resisted by Jain Chauta Raja of Moodbidri.[120]

The Bakur Manuscript reports Tipu Sultan as having said: "All Musalmans should unite together, and considering the annihilation of infidels as a sacred duty, labor to the utmost of their power, to accomplish that subject."[116] Soon after the Treaty of Mangalore in 1784, Tipu gained control of Canara.[117] He issued orders to seize the Christians in Canara, confiscate their estates,[118] and deport them to Seringapatam, the capital of his empire, through the Jamalabad fort route.[119] Father Miranda and other priests were expelled and fined by Tipu Sultan, then threatened with execution if they ever returned.[116]

The ruler of Mysore, Tipu Sultan is regarded to be anti-Christian by many historians.[112][113][114] The captivity of Mangalorean Catholics at Seringapatam, which began on 24 February 1784 and ended on 4 May 1799, remains a reminder of religious violence and persecution against that community.[115]

The Jamalabad fort route. Mangalorean Catholics had travelled through this route on their way to Srirangapatanam

Tipu Sultan, ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore (1782–1799)

The adverse effects of the inquisition were tempered somewhat by the fact that Hindus were able to escape Portuguese hegemony by migrating to other parts of the subcontinent.[111] Though officially repressed in 1774, it was reinstated by Queen Maria I in 1778. The last vestiges of the Goa Inquisition were finally swept away when the British occupied the city in 1812.

The first inquisitors, Aleixo Dias Falcão and Francisco Marques, established themselves in what was formerly the king of Goa's palace, forcing the Portuguese viceroy to relocate to a smaller residence. The inquisitor's first act was forbidding Hindus from the public practice of their faith through fear of death. Sephardic Jews living in Goa, many of whom had fled the Iberian Peninsula to escape the excesses of the Spanish Inquisition to begin with, were also persecuted. During the Goa Inquisition, described as "contrary to humanity" by Voltaire,[108] conversions to Catholicism occurred by force and 57 Goans were executed by the Portuguese between 1561 and 1774.[109][110]

St. Francis Xavier who requested the Inquisition in 1545.

Goa Inquisition (1560–1774)

Colonial Era

After acquiring Jammu and Kashmir through the Treaty of Lahore and Treaty of Kashmir, Ranbir Dogra led a major invasion of the frontier areas of Yasin and Hunza to punish Muslim rebels in 1863. General Hooshiara Singh with 3,000 troops attacked the frontier with predominantly Muslim population. Thousands were killed during the invasion. Captured Yasinis were taken back to Srinagar for forced labour and all their women were included into the harems of Dogra Soldiers.[106][107]

Dogra raid of Yasin and Hunza

After ceasing control of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Ranjit Singh appointed Gulab Dogra as the Hindu governor of Jammu and Kashmir. Dogra demolished the Jama Masjid of Srinagar.[104] In 1837, Dogra suppressed the revolt of the Yousafzai Tribe. Thousands of Muslim Pashtun tribe members were killed. Few hundred of captured women were sold as slaves in Jammu.[105]

Sikh rule

Aurangzeb issued orders in 1669, to all his governors of provinces to "destroy with a willing hand the schools and temples of the infidels, and that they were strictly enjoined to put an entire stop to the teaching and practice of idolatrous forms of worship".[98] These orders and his own initiative in implementing them led to the destruction of numerous temples, contributing to the list of temples destroyed during Islamic rule of India. The estimated number of temples destroyed during Islamic rule range from 80 campaigns to 60,000 total.[99][100] Some temples were destroyed entirely; in other cases mosques were built on their foundations, sometimes using the same stones. Idols were smashed, and the city of Mathura was temporarily renamed as Islamabad in local official documents.[98] Among the temples Aurangzeb destroyed included major Hindu pilgrimage sites in Varanasi, Mathura and Somnath temple in Gujarat.[101] In both cases, he had large mosques built on the sites.[97][101] On some destroyed sites such as Kesava Deva Temple in Mathura, Aurangzeb ordered the construction of mosque as replacement.[101][102] Towns and provinces became depopulated from the religious violence,[95] and Aurangzeb on his death bed lamented in writing that he had "greatly sinned" and "it should not happen that Muslims be killed and the blame for their death rest upon him".[103]

Aurangzeb assumed power after arresting his father Shah Jahan, as well as eldest brother Dara Shikoh for his secular beliefs, and other blood relatives. Aurangzeb was a devout Sunni Muslim, and regarded his blood brother as a "pestilent infidel".[93] Aurangzeb put his brother on trial, found him guilty of apostasy, and executed him. He next arrested the children of Shikoh and poisoned them to death.[94] The reign of Aurangzeb that followed, witnessed one of the strongest campaign of religious violence in Mughal Empire's history, with an estimated 4.6 million people killed.[92] Aurangzeb banned Diwali, re-introduced jizya (tax) on non-Muslims,[95] led numerous campaigns of attacks against non-Muslims, destroyed Hindu temples,[96] arrested and executed the ninth Sikh guru Tegh Bahadur.[91][97]

The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb's reign saw a scale of religious violence in India that lists as 23rd in 100 deadliest episodes of atrocities in human history.[92]

Aurangzeb (1658–1707)

Jahangir's orders to torture and execute Guru Arjun, in 1606, is considered by scholars[88] to be a turning point in Sikh history, after which Sikhs considered militancy and religious violence against the Mughal Empire as necessary to protect their faith and loved ones. Violence against the Mughal Empire was thereafter viewed by the Sikhs as the only practical form of protest against religious persecution and Islamic orthodoxy.[89][90] The religious violence between Sikhs and Muslims increased thereafter, and ultimately led to the formal inauguration of khalsa (military brotherhood) in 1699 by the tenth Sikh guru, Gobind Singh.[91]

Nur-ud-din Mohammad Salim (Jahangir) was the fourth Mughal Emperor under whose reign religious violence was targeted at Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. A companion of Jahangir, and Muslim historian, described the religious violence as,[87]

Jahangir (1605-1627 AD)

(modern Himachal Pradesh), as follows, NagarkotAnother historian Nizamuddin Ahmad recorded the violence during the conquest of

Akbar is known for his religious tolerance. However, in early years of his reign, religious violence included the massacre of Hindus of Garha in 1560 AD, under the command of Mughal Viceroy Asaf Khan.[84][85] Other campaigns targeted Chitor and Rantambhor. Maulana Ahmad, the historian of that era, wrote of the battle at Chitor fort,

Akbar (1556-1605 AD)

In 1545, Mughal Empire under Sher Shah Suri, led a campaign of religious violence across western and eastern provinces of the Empire in India. As with theologians and court officials of Delhi Sultanate, his advisors counseled in favor of religious violence. Shaikh Nizam, for example, counseled, "There is nothing equal to a religious war against the infidels. If you be slain you become a martyr, if you live you become a ghazi."[83] Sher Shah's Mughal army then attacked the Hindu fort of Kalinjar, captured it, killing every Hindu infidel inside that fort.[83]

Babur defeated and killed Ibrahim Lodi, the last Sultan of Lodi dynasty, in 1526. Babur ruled for 4 years and was succeeded by his son Humayun whose reign was temporarily usurped by Suri dynasty. During their 30 year rule, religious violence continued in India. Records of the violence and trauma, from Sikh-Muslim perspective, include those recorded in Sikh literature of 16th century.[80] The violence of Babur, the father of Humayun, in 1520s, was witnessed by Guru Nanak, who commented upon them in four hymns. Historians suggest the early Mughal era period of religious violence contributed to introspection and then transformation from pacifism to militancy for self-defense in Sikhism.[80] According to autobiographical historical record of Emperor Babur, Tuzak-i Babari, Babur's campaign in northwest India targeted Hindu and Sikh pagans as well as apostates (non-Sunni sects of Islam), and immense number of infidels were killed, with Muslim camps building "towers of skulls of the infidels" on hillocks.[81] Baburnama, similarly records massacre of Hindu villages and towns by Babur's Muslim army, in addition to numerous deaths of both Hindu and Muslim soldiers in the battlefields.[82]

Babur, Humayun, Suri dynasty (1526-1556)

Mughal Empire

Elsewhere in Uttar Pradesh, a historian of Lodi dynasty times, described the state sponsored religious violence as follows,[77]

Religious violence and persecution continued during the reign of the two significant Lodi dynasty rulers, Bahlul Khan Lodi and Sikandar Lodi. Delhi Sultanate whose reach had shrunk to northern and eastern India, witnessed burning and killing of Hindus for their religion, in Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.[75] In 1499, a Brahmin of Bengal was arrested because he had attracted a large following among both Muslims and Hindus, with his teachings, "the Mohammedan and Hindu religions were both true, and were but different paths by which God might be approached." Sikandar, with his governor of Bihar Azam Humayun, asked Islamic scholars and sharia experts of their time whether such pluralism and peaceful messages were permissible within the Islamic Sultanate.[76] The scholars advised that it is not, and that the Brahmin should be given the option to either embrace and convert to Islam, or killed. Sikandar accepted the counsel and gave the Brahmin an ultimatum. The Hindu refused to change his view, and was killed.[76]

Lodi dynasty (1451-1526 AD)

After the massacres of Timur, the people and lands within Delhi Sultanate were left in a state of anarchy, chaos and pestilence.[72] Sayyid dynasty followed, but few historical records on religious violence, or anything else for that matter, have been found. Those found, including Tarikh-i Mubarak-Shahi describe continued religious violence. Over 1414 through 1423, according to the Muslim historian Yahya bin Ahmad, the Islamic commanders "chastised and plundered the infidels" of Ahar, Khur, Kampila, Gwalior, Seori, Chandawar, Etawa, Sirhind, Bail, Katehr and Rahtors.[73] The violence was not one sided. The Hindus retaliated by forming their own armed groups, and attacking forts seized by Muslims. In 1431, Jalandhar for example, was retaken by Hindus and all Muslims inside the fort were placed in prison. Yahya bin Ahmad, the historian remarked on the arrest of Muslims by Hindus, "the unclean ruthless infidels had no respect for the Musulman religion".[74] The cycle of violence between Hindus and Muslims, in numerous parts of India, continued throughout the Sayyid dynasty according to Yahya bin Ahmad.

Sayyid dynasty (1414-1451 AD)

After Timur left, different Muslim Sultans enforced their power in what used to be Delhi Sultanate. In Kashmir, Sultan Sikandar began expanding, and unleashed religious violence that earned him the name but-shikan or idol-breaker.[67] He earned this sobriquet because of the sheer scale of desecration and destruction of Hindu and Buddhist temples, shrines, ashrams, hermitages and other holy places in what is now known as Kashmir and its neighboring territories. He destroyed vast majority of Hindu and Buddhist temples in his reach in Kashmir region (north and northwest India).[68][69] Encouraged by Islamic theologian, Muhammad Hamadani, Sikandar Butshikan also destroyed ancient Hindu and Buddhist books and banned infidels from prayers, dance, music, consumption of wine and observation of their religious festivals.[70][71] To escape the religious violence during his reign, many Hindus converted to Islam and many left Kashmir. Many were also killed.[70]

Sikandar the Iconoclast (1399-1416 AD)

The Islamic Turko-Mongol ruler Timur's attack of India was marked by systematic slaughter and other atrocities on a truly massive scale inflicted mainly on the subcontinent's Hindu population.[62] Leaving the Muslim populated areas aside, his army looted rest of the habits. The Hindu population was massacred or enslaved.[63] One hundred thousand Hindus prisoners were killed before he attacked Delhi and many more were killed afterwards.[64][65]

Timur's massacre of Delhi (1398 AD)

Under his rule, Hindus who were forced to pay the mandatory Jizya tax were recorded as infidels and their communities monitored. Hindus who erected a deity or built a temple and those who praticised their religion in public such as near a kund (water tank) were arrested, brought to the palace and executed.[57][60] Firuz Shah Tughlaq wrote in his autobiography,

Firuz Shah Tughluq was the third ruler of the Tughlaq dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate. The "Tarikh-i-Firuz Shah" is a historical record written during his reign that attests to the systematic persecution of Hindus under his rule.[57] Capture and enslavement was widespread; when Sultan Firuz Shah died, slaves in his service were killed en masse and piled up in a heap.[58] Victims of religious violence included Hindu Brahmin priests who refused to convert to Islam:

After Khilji dynasty, Tughlaq dynasty assumed power and religious violence continued in its reign. In 1323 Ulugh Khan began new invasions of the Hindu kingdoms of South India. At Srirangam, the invading army desecrated the shrine and killed 12,000 unarmed ascetics. The illustrious Vaishnava philosopher Sri Vedanta Desika, hid himself amongst the corpses together with the sole manuscript of the Srutaprakasika, the magnum opus of Sri Sudarsana Suri whose eyes were put out, and also the latter’s two sons.[52][54][55][56]

Tughlaq Dynasty (1321-1394 AD)

In 1311, Malik Kafur entered the Srirangam temple, massacred the Brahmin priests of the temple who resisted the invasion for three days, plundered the temple treasury and the storehouse and desecrated and destroyed numerous religious icons.[52][53]

The Muslim army led by Malik Kafur, another general of Allauddin Khilji, pursued two violent campaigns into south India, between 1309 and 1311, against three Hindu kingdoms of Deogiri (Maharashtra), Warangal (Telangana) and Madurai (Tamil Nadu). Thousands were slaughtered. Halebid temple was destroyed. The temples, cities and villages were plundered. The loot from south India was so large, that historians of that era state a thousand camels had to be deployed to carry it to Delhi.[50] In the booty from Warangal was the Koh-i-Noor diamond.[51]

The campaign of violence, abasement and humiliation was not merely the works of Muslim army, the kazis, muftis and court officials of Allauddin recommended it on religious grounds.[49] Kazi Mughisuddin of Bayánah advised Allauddin to "keep Hindus in subjection, in abasement, as a religious duty, because they are the most inveterate enemies of the Prophet, and because the Prophet has commanded us to slay them, plunder them, and make them captive; saying - convert them to Islam or kill them, enslave them and spoil their wealth and property."[49]

Riots and mutinies by Hindus erupted in various parts of the Sultanate, ranging from modern Punjab to Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh to Uttar Pradesh. These riots were crushed with mass executions, where all men and even boys above the age of 8 were seized and killed.[48] Nusrat Khan, a general of Allauddin Khilji, retaliated against mutineers by seizing all women and children of the affected area and placing them in prison. In another act, he had the wives of suspects arrested, dishonored and publicly exposed to humiliation. The children were cut into pieces on the heads of their mothers, on the orders of Nusrat Khan.[48]

Religious violence in India continued during the reign of Jalaluddin Firoz Shah Khilji and Allauddin Khilji of Khilji dynasty.[43][44] Their army commanders such as Ulugh Khan, Nusrat Khan, Khusro Khan and Malik Kafur attacked, killed, looted and enslaved non-Muslim people from West, Central and South India.[45][46] The Khilji dynasty's court historian wrote (abridged),

Somnath Temple in Gujarat witnessed repeated destruction by Muslim armies in medieval India, followed by repeated reconstruction by Hindus.[25] Construction of new Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples, as well as the repairs of desecrated temples was forbidden during Delhi Sultanate.[42]

Khilji dynasty (1290-1320 AD)

Historical records compiled by Muslim historian Maulana Hakim Saiyid Abdul Hai attest to the religious violence during Mamluk dynasty ruler Qutb-ud-din Aybak. The first mosque built in Delhi, the "Quwwat al-Islam" was built with demolished parts of 20 Hindu and Jain temples.[38][39][40] This pattern of iconoclasm was common during his reign.[41]

Qutb-ud-din Aibak (1206-1287 AD)

Mohammed Ghori raided north India and the Hindu pilgrimage site Varanasi at the end of 12th century and he continued the destruction of Hindu temples and idols that had begun during the first attack in 1194.[37]

Mohammed Ghori (1173-1206 AD)

Delhi Sultanate, which extended over 320 years (1206-1526 AD), began with raids and invasion by Muhammad of Ghor. The Sultanate witnessed a period of extensive religious violence in various parts of India, at the hands of Sultan's army.[22] The perpetrators were Sunni Muslims, and the primary victims were Hindus, Buddhists, Jains as well as Shia and Sufi Muslims. Religious violence became state sponsored with the start of Delhi Sultanate and it continued through the Mughal Empire.[22][23]

Delhi Sultanate

Mahmud of Ghazni made at least sixteen raids into India, against Hindus. Each campaign witnessed religious violence, killing of thousands of people, plunder and Mahmud returning with Hindu slaves and loot. The lives of numerous Muslims and Hindus were lost. For his sixth raid of 1008 AD, the Hindu kingdoms of Ujjain, Gwaliar, Kalinjar, Kanauj, Delhi and Ajmer formed a coalition to resist the attack by Muslim army of Ghazni. Hindu females sold their jewelry and put labor into providing war supplies. The sixth war erupted in the fields of Punjab, where Ghazni troops had entered through Afghanistan. Thousands of Turk-Afghan Muslim soldiers were killed within the first hour. In the chaos of the battles, armies fled in different directions, and thousands of Hindus were hacked to death by the retreating army.[36] In the sixteenth campaign, Mahmud raided Gujarat and Sindh region of South Asia, and destroyed Somnath temple.

Mahmud of Ghazni was a Sultan who invaded the Indian subcontinent from present-day Afghanistan during the early 11th century. His campaigns included plundering and destruction of Hindu temples such as those at Mathura, Dwarka, and others. In 1024 AD, Mahmud of Ghazni attacked and destroyed the third Somnath temple killing over 50,000 and personally destroying the Shiva lingam after stripping it of its gold.[33][34] The historian Al Utbi narrated the violence as,

Mahmud of Ghazni (11th century)

About 986 AD, the raids and violence from Muslim army of Sultan Yaminud Mahmud and Amir Sabuktigin reached Punjabi Hindus.[31] After several battles, the Hindu king Jaipal sent a message to the Sultan that the war be avoided. The Sultan replied with the message that his aim is to "obtain a complete victory suited to his zeal for the honor of Islam and Musulmans". King Jaipal then sent a new message to the Sultan and his Amir, stating "You have seen the impetuosity of the Hindus and their indifference to death. If you insist on war in the hope of obtaining plunder, tribute, elephants and slaves, then you leave us no alternative but to destroy our property, take the eyes out of our elephants, cast our families in fire, and commit mass suicide, so that all that will be left to you to conquer and seize is stones and dirt, dead bodies, and scattered bones."[32] Amir Sabuktigin then promised peace in exchange for a large ransom. King Jaipal, after receiving this peace offer, assumed that peace is likely and ordered his army to withdraw from a confrontation. According to 17th century Persian historian Firishta, Jaipal refused to pay the ransom, angering Sabuktigin. An alternate account of a 11th century historian states, instead of waiting for the ransom tribute, Amir Sabuktigin and his army then attacked the kingdom of infidel Hindus. Both historians then describe the religious violence included burning the Hindu villages and towns, massacre of people in numbers that Muslim historian Al Utbi in Tarikh Yamini called "beyond number", demolishing of idol-temples, and the plundering of the wealth of the Hindu homes and king's treasure by Amir's friends and soldiers.[32]

As the third fitna, fourth fitna and other civil wars raged in Arab and Persian regions, and Sunni and Shia sects attempted to consolidate their positions, the religious violence in the western and northwest parts of Indian subcontinent against Hindus and Buddhists was limited to sporadic raids and attacks. In late 8th century, the army of Abu Jafar al Mansur attacked Hindu kingdoms in Barada and Kashmir, and took many children and women as slaves.[30] Shia Muslims and sympathizers were expelled by Sunni armies after these raids. Similarly, adherents of Ali expelled Umayyad sympathizers and appointees.

Minor dynasties (late 8th through 10th century)

The earliest documented religious wars in India are from the 8th century, when Islamic armies attacked the Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms in the northwest parts of Indian subcontinent, now modern Pakistan and parts of Indian states of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Punjab in early 8th century. Muhammad bin Qasim and his army, assaulted numerous towns, plundered them for wealth, enslaved Buddhists and Hindus, and destroyed temples and monasteries.[27] In some cases, they built mosques and minarets over the remains of the original temples, such as at Debal and later in towns of Nerun and Sadusan (Sehwan)[28] After each battle all captured men were executed and their wives and children enslaved. One fifth of the booty and slaves were dispatched back as khums tax to Hajjaj and the Caliph.[29]

The 8th century Hindu Martand Sun Temple in Kashmir was considered an infidel's place of worship and destroyed by Delhi Sultanate's Muslim armies.[25][26]

Muhammad bin Qasim (early 8th century)

Religious violence was also witnessed during the Portuguese rule of Goa that began in 1560.[24]

Religious violence in medieval India began in centuries before the start of Delhi Sultanate, with the raids by Turko-Mongol, Persian and Afghan armies. It intensified during Delhi Sultanate, continued through Mughal Empire, and then in the British colonial period.[22][23]

Historical records of religious violence are extensive for medieval India, in the form of corpus written by numerous Muslim historians. Will Durant states that Hindus were historically persecuted during Islamic rule of the Indian subcontinent.[18] The total number of deaths of this period, are usually attributed to the figure by Prof. K.S. Lal, who estimated that between the years 1000 AD and 1500 AD the population of Hindus decreased by 80 million.[19][20][21]

Medieval India

The Divyavadana (divine stories), an anthology of Buddhist mythical tales on morals and ethics, many using talking birds and animals, was written in about 2nd century AD. In one of the stories, the razing of stupas and viharas is mentioned with Pushyamitra. This has been historically mapped to the reign of King Pushyamitra of Sunga Empire about 400 years before Divyavadana was written. Archeological remains of stupas have been found in Deorkothar that suggest deliberate destruction, conjectured to be one mentioned in Divyavadana about Pushyamitra.[14] The existence of religious violence between Hinduism and Buddhism, in ancient India, has been disputed.[15][16] It is unclear when the Deorkothar stupas were destroyed, and by whom. The fictional tales of Divyavadana is considered by scholars[17] as being of doubtful value as a historical record. Moriz Winternitz, for example, stated, "these legends [in the Divyāvadāna] scarcely contain anything of much historical value".[17]

Ancient India has no history of large scale religious violence.[11] However, the Buddhist king Ashoka (304-232 BCE) is said to have ordered killings of 18,000 Jains after someone drew a picture of Buddha bowing at the feet of Mahavira.[12][13]

Ancient India


  • Ancient India 1
  • Medieval India 2
    • Muhammad bin Qasim (early 8th century) 2.1
    • Minor dynasties (late 8th through 10th century) 2.2
    • Mahmud of Ghazni (11th century) 2.3
    • Delhi Sultanate 2.4
      • Mohammed Ghori (1173-1206 AD) 2.4.1
      • Qutb-ud-din Aibak (1206-1287 AD) 2.4.2
      • Khilji dynasty (1290-1320 AD) 2.4.3
      • Tughlaq Dynasty (1321-1394 AD) 2.4.4
      • Timur's massacre of Delhi (1398 AD) 2.4.5
      • Sikandar the Iconoclast (1399-1416 AD) 2.4.6
      • Sayyid dynasty (1414-1451 AD) 2.4.7
      • Lodi dynasty (1451-1526 AD) 2.4.8
    • Mughal Empire 2.5
      • Babur, Humayun, Suri dynasty (1526-1556) 2.5.1
      • Akbar (1556-1605 AD) 2.5.2
      • Jahangir (1605-1627 AD) 2.5.3
      • Aurangzeb (1658–1707) 2.5.4
    • Sikh rule 2.6
      • Dogra raid of Yasin and Hunza 2.6.1
  • Colonial Era 3
    • Goa Inquisition (1560–1774) 3.1
    • Tipu Sultan, ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore (1782–1799) 3.2
      • Religious violence against the Mangalorean Catholic community 3.2.1
      • Religious violence against British soldiers 3.2.2
      • Religious violence against Hindus 3.2.3
    • Indian Rebellion of 1857 3.3
    • Partition of Bengal (1905) 3.4
    • Moplah Rebellion (1921) 3.5
    • Partition of British India (1947) 3.6
  • Modern India 4
    • Gujarat communal riots (1969) 4.1
    • Anti-Sikh Riots (1984) 4.2
    • Ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus 4.3
    • Religious involvement in North-East India Militancy 4.4
    • Anti-Muslim violence 4.5
    • Anti-Christian violence 4.6
    • Anti-Hindu violence 4.7
  • Statistics 5
  • International human rights reports 6
  • In film and literature 7
  • See also 8
  • Notes 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Along with domestic organisations, international human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch publish reports[7] on acts of religious violence in India. Over 2005 to 2009 period, an average of 130 people died every year from communal violence, or about 0.01 deaths per 100,000 population. The state of Maharashtra reported the highest total number of religious violence related fatalities over that 5 year period, while Madhya Pradesh experienced the highest fatality rate per year per 100,000 population between 2005 and 2009.[8] Over 2012, a total of 97 people died across India from various riots related to religious violence.[9] The world's average annual death rate from intentional violence, in recent years, has been 7.9 per 100,000 people.[10]


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