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Hindus have experienced both historical and ongoing religious persecution and systematic violence, in the form of forced conversions, documented massacres, genocides, demolition and desecration of temples, as well as the destruction of educational centres.
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Parts of India have been subject to Muslim rule from the period of Muhammad ibn Qasim till the fall of the Mughal Empire. While there is a tendency to view the Muslim conquests and Muslim empires as a prolonged period of violence against Hindu culture, Durant called the Muslim conquest of India "probably the bloodiest story in history" in between the periods of wars and conquests, there were harmonious Hindu-Muslim relations in most Indian communities, and the Indian population grew during the medieval Muslim times. No populations were expelled based on their religion by either the Muslim or Hindu kings, nor were attempts made to annihilate a specific religion.
According to Romila Thapar, with the onset of Muslim rule all Indians, higher and lower caste were lumped together in the category of "Hindus". While higher-caste Indians regarded lower castes to be impure, they were now regarded as belonging to a similar category, which partly explains the belief among many higher caste Indians ".. belief among many upper caste Hindus today that Hinduism in the last one thousand years has been through the most severe persecution that any religion in the world has ever undergone." Thapar further notes that "The need to exaggerate the persecution at the hands of the Muslim is required to justify the inculcation of anti-Muslim sentiments among the Hindus of today." Hindutva-allies have even framed the Muslim violence against Hindu expressions of faith as a "Hindu Holocaust".
Romila Thapar states that the belief in a severe persecution in the last millennium brushes away the "various expressions of religious persecution in India prior to the coming of the Muslims and particularly between the Śaiva and the Buddhist and Jaina sects". She questions what persecution means, and if it means religious conversions, she doubts that conversions can be interpreted as forms of persecution. According to Thapar, it is quite correct to mention that Muslim iconoclasts destroyed temples and the broke images of Hindus but it should also be mentioned that Muslim rulers made donations to Hindu sects during their rule.
David Lorenzen asserts that during the Islamic rule period there was state-sponsored persecution against Hindus, yet it was sporadic and directed mostly at Hindu religious monuments. According to Deepa Ollapally, the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb was clearly discriminatory towards Hindu and all other non-Muslims, displaying an "unprecedented level of religious bigotry", but perhaps this was a consequence of the opposition he faced from a number of his family members. During the medieval span, she states, "episodes of direct religious persecution of Hindus were rare", as were communal riots between Hindus and Muslims.
Destruction of religious architecture
According to André Wink, the mutilation and destruction of Hindu religious idols and temples were an attack on Hindu religious practice, and the Muslim destruction of religious architecture was a means to eradicate the vestiges of Hindu religious symbols. Muslim texts of this period justify it based on their contempt and abhorence for idols and idolators in Islamic thought. Peter Jackson notes that the Muslim historians of the medieval era viewed the creation and expansion of Islamic Sultanates in Hindustan as "holy war" and a religious conquest, characterizing Muslim forces as "the army of Islam" and the Hindus as infidels. According to Jackson, these records need to be interpreted and relied upon with care given their tendencies to exaggerate. This was not a period of "uncompromising iconoclasm", states Jackson. Cities that quickly surrendered to the Islamic army, says Jackson, "got a better deal" for their religious monuments.
According to Richard Davis, targeting sacred temples was not unique to Muslim rulers in India. Some Hindu kings too, prior to the formation of first Islamic sultanates in India, expropriated sacred idols from temples and took it back to their capitals as a political symbol of victory. However, the sacred temples, icons and the looted image carried away was still sacred and treated with respect by the victorious Hindu king and his forces, states Richard Davis. There is hardly any evidence of "mutilation of divine images and intentional defilement" of Hindu sacred icons or temples by armies in control of Hindu rulers. The evidence that is available suggests that the victorious Hindu kings undertook significant effort to house the expropriated images in new, grand temples within their kingdom. According to Wink, Hindu destruction of Buddhist and Jain places of worship took place before the 10th-century, but the evidence for such 'Hindu iconoclasm' is incidental, too vague, and unconvincing. According to Wink, mutilation and defilement of sacred icons is rarely evidenced in Hindu texts, in contrast to Muslim texts on the Islamic iconoclasm in India. Hindu temples were centres of political resistance which had to be suppressed.
Effect on Hindu learning
Bukka Raya I, one of the founders of Vijaynagar Empire, had taken steps to rehabilitate Hindu religious and cultural institutions which suffered a serious setback under Muslim rule. Buddhists centres of learning decayed, leading to the rise to prominence of Brahmanical institutions.
Muslim conquests in the Indian subcontinent began in early 8th century CE with a Muhammad ibn Qasim-led army. This campaign is narrated in the Chach Nama by Bakr Kūfī, a 13th-century manuscript which claimed to be based on an earlier Arabic record.
The Chach Nama mentions temple demolitions, mass executions of resisting Sindhi forces and the enslavement of their dependents; kingdoms ruled by Hindu and Buddhist kings were attacked, their wealth plundered, tribute (kharaj) settled and hostages taken, often as slaves to Iraq. According to Wink, a historian specializing in Indo-Islamic period in South Asia, these Hindus were given the choice to either convert to Islam and join the Arab armies, or be sealed (tattooing the hands) and pay Jizya (a tax). The Chach Nama and evidence in other pre-11th century Persian texts suggests that these Hindu Jats also suffered restrictions and discrimination as non-Muslims, as was then usual elsewhere for the non-Muslim subjects (ahl adh-dhimma) per the Islamic law (Sharia), states Wink.
Yohanan Friedmann however finds that the Chach Nama holds that most contemporary religious as well as political authorities collaborated with the invaders, and those who promptly surrendered were not only gifted with huge sums of money but also entrusted to rule conquered territories. Friedmann also notes that bin-Qasim "gave his unqualified blessing to the characteristic features of the society"—he reappointed every deposed Brahmin (of Brahmanabad) to their jobs, exempted them from Jizya, allowed holding of traditional festivals, and granted protection to temples but enforced the caste-hierarchy with enhanced vigor, drawing from Sharia, as evident from his treatment of Jats. Overall, Friedmann concludes that the conquest, as described in the Chach Nama, did "not result in any significant changes in the structure of Indian society".
According to Johnson and Koyama, quoting Bosworth, there were "certainly massacres in the towns" in the early stages of campaign against pagan Hindus in Sind, but eventually they were granted dhimmi status and peace treaties were made with them.
After the conquest of Sindh, Qasim chose the Hanafi school of Islamic law which stated that, when under Muslim rule, people of Indic religions such as Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains are to be regarded as dhimmis (from the Arab term) as well as "People of the Book" and are required to pay jizya for religious freedom.
The historicity of the Chach Nama has been questioned. Francesco Gabrieli considers the Chach Nama to be a "historical romance" which was "a late and doubtful source" for information about bin-Qasim and must be carefully sieved to locate the facts; on such a reading, he admired bin-Qasim's proclamations concerning "principle of tolerance and religious freedom". Peter Hardy takes a roughly similar stance and lenses the work as a work of "political theory". Manan Ahmed Asif criticizes the very premises of recovering portions of the Chach Nama as a historical chronicle of Muslim conquest; he argues that the site and times of production dictated its entire content, and that it must be read in entirety, as an original work in the genre of "political theory" where history is creatively extrapolated with romantic fiction to gain favor in the court of Nasiruddin Qabacha. Wink states that some scholars treat the Chach Nama and other Muslim texts of its era, as "largely pseudo-history". He concurs that the skepticism about each individual source is justified and the Chach Nama is part fiction. Wink adds, taken together the common elements in these diverse sources suggest that Hindus were treated as dhimmis and targeted for certain discriminatory measures prescribed in the Sharia, as well as entitled to protection and limited religious freedoms in a Muslim state.
Early sultanates (11th–12th century)
Muslim texts of that period are replete with iconoclast rhetoric, descriptions of mass-slaughter of Hindus, and repeats ad nauseam about "the army of Islam obtain[ing] abundant wealth and unlimited riches" from the conquered sites. The Hindus are described in these Islamic texts as infidels, Hindustan as war zone ("Dar-al-Harb"), and attacks on pagan Hindus as a part of a holy war (jihad), states Peter Jackson. However, states Wink, this killing was not systematic and "was normally confined to the fighting men" though the wars and episodes of routine violence did precipitate a great famine with civilian casualties in tens of thousands. The pervasive and most striking feature of the Arabic literature on Sind and Hind of the 11th to 13th-century is its constant obsession with idol worship and polytheism in the Indian subcontinent. There is piecemeal evidence of iconoclasm that began in Sind region, but the wholesale and more systematic onslaught against major Hindu religious monuments is evidenced in North India.
Richard Eaton, Sunil Kumar, Romila Thapar, Richard H. Davis and others argue that these iconoclastic actions were not primarily driven by religious zeal, but were politically strategic acts of destruction in that temples in medieval India were sites associated with sovereignty, royal power, money, and authority. According to Wink, the iconoclasm was a product of "religious, economic and political" and the practice undoubtedly escalated due to the "vast amount of immobilized treasure" in these temples. As the Indo-Islamic conquests of the 11th and 12th-centuries moved beyond Panjab and the Himalayan foothills of the northwest into the Ganges-Yamuna Doab region, states Andre Wink, "some of the most important sacred sites of Indian culture were destroyed and desecrated," and their broken parts consistently reused to make Islamic monuments. Phyllis Granoff notes that "medieval Indian religious groups faced a serious crisis as invading Muslim armies sacked temples and defaced sacred image".
The 11th and 12th-century additionally witnessed the rise of irregulars and then Banjara-like groups who adopted Islam. These were "marauding bands" who caused much suffering and destruction in the countryside as they searched for food and supplies during the violent campaign of Ghurids against Hindustan. The religious icons of Hindus were one of the targets of these Islamic campaigns.
The 11th to 13th-century period did not witness any systematic attempts at forced conversions of Hindus into Muslims, nor is there evidence of widespread Islamicization in al-Hind that emerged from the violent conquest. The political power shifted from Hindu kings to Muslim sultans in conquered areas. If some temples were not destroyed in these areas, it did result in a loss to Hindu temple building patronage and an uprooting of Hindu sacred geography.
The second half of the 13th-century witnessed raids on Hindu kingdoms by Muslim forces controlling the northwest and north India, states Peter Jackson. These did not lead to sustained persecution of the Hindus in the targeted kingdoms, because the Muslim armies merely looted the Hindus, took cattle and slaves, then left. The raids caused suffering, yet also rallied the Islamic faithfuls and weakened an infidel prince by weakening his standing among his Hindu subjects. These raids were into Rajput kingdoms, those in central India, Lakhnawti–Awadh, and in eastern regions such as Bihar.
Numerous Islamic texts of that era, states Wink, also describe "forced transfer of enslaved Indian captives (ghilman-o-jawari, burda, sabaya), specially women and children" over the 11th-century from Hindustan.
Delhi Sultanate (13th–16th century)
The Delhi Sultanate started in the 13th-century and continued through the early 16th-century, when the Mughal conquest replaced it. Jackson states that the Delhi Sultans of this period saw themselves first and foremost as Islamic rulers for the "people of Islam". They were emphatically not "sultan of the Hindus". The Muslim texts of the Delhi Sultanate era treated Hindus with disdain, remarking "Hindus are never interesting in themselves, but only as converts, as capitation tax payers, or as corpses". These medieval Muslim rulers were "protecting and advancing the Islamic faith", with two Muslim texts of this period remarking that the Sultan had a duty "eradicate infidelity and humiliate his Hindu subjects".
According to Jackson, some of the conquered Hindu subjects of the Delhi Sultanate served these Sultans were "doubtless usually slaves". These Hindus built the mosques of this era as well as developed the Indo-Islamic architecture, some served the court in roles such as treasurers, clerks, minting of new coins, and others. These Hindus were not persecuted, instead some were rewarded with immunities and tax exemptions. Additionally, captured Hindu slaves were added as infantry troops in the Sultanate's army for their campaign against other Hindu kingdoms. Some Sultans adopted Indian customs such as ceremonial riding of elephants by kings, thus facilitating the public perception of the new monarch. This suggest that the Sultans cultivated some Hindus to serve their aims, rather than indiscriminately persecute every Hindu.
In general, Hindu subjects of Delhi Sultanate were generally accepted as people with dhimmi status, not equal to Muslims, but "protected", subject to Jizya tax and with a list of restrictions. Early Sultans of the Delhi Sultanate exempted the Brahmins from having to pay Jizya, thus dividing the Hindus and placing the discriminatory tax burden entirely on the non-Brahmin strata of the Hindu society. Firuz Shah was the first to impose the Jizya on Brahmins, and wrote in his autobiography that countless Hindus converted to Islam when he issued the edict that conversion would release them of the requirement to pay Jizya. This discrimination against Hindus was in force in the latter half of the 14th-century, though Jackson finds it difficult to establish if and how this was enforced outside of the major centers under Muslim control.
The Muslim commanders of Delhi Sultanate regularly raided Hindu kingdoms for plunder, mulct their treasuries and looted the Hindu temples therein, states Jackson. These conquests of Delhi Sultanate armies damaged or destroyed many Hindu temples. In a few instances, after the war, the Sultans let the Hindus repair and reconstruct their temples. Such instances, states Jackson, has been cited by the Indian scholar P.B. Desai as evidence of "striking degree of tolerance" by Muslim Sultans. But, this happened in frontier areas after they had recently been conquered and placed in direct Muslim rule, where the Sultan's authority was "highly precarious". Within regions that was already under firm control of the Delhi Sultanate, the direct evidence of this is meagre. One example referred to is of a claimed request from the king of China to build a temple in India, as recorded by Ibn Battuta. Jackson states that it is questionable and has no corroborating evidence. Similar few examples near Delhi, such as one for Sri Krishna Bhagwan temple, cannot be verified whether they were ever built either.
Some modern era Indian texts mention that Hindu and Jain temples of Delhi Sultanate era received endowments from Muslim authorities, presenting these as evidence of lack of persecution during this period. It is "not beyond the bounds of possibility" that in some instances this happened. But generally, the texts and even the memoirs written by the some Sultans themselves describe how they "set about destroying new temples and replacing them with mosques", and in one case depopulated a town of Hindus and resettled Muslims there. Jackson clarifies that the evidence suggests that the destroyed temples were "new temples", and not the old one's near Delhi whose devotees were already paying regular Jizya to the Sultan's treasuries. In some cases, the policies on destroying or letting Hindus worship in their old temples changed as Sultans changed.
The Muslim nobles and advisors of the Sultans championed persecution of Hindus. Jackson shows how the Muslim texts of that era frequently mention themes such as the Hindu "infidels must on no account be allowed to live in ease and affluence", they should not be treated as "Peoples of the Book" and the Sultan should "at least refrain from treating Hindus with honour or permitting idolatry in the capital". Failure to slaughter the Hindus has led to polytheism taking root. Another wazir while theoretically agreeing to these view, stated that this would not be practical given the small population of Muslims and such a policy should be deferred until Muslims were in a stronger position. If eradication of Hindus is not possible, suggested another Muslim official, then the Hindus should at least be insulted, disgraced and dishonored. These views were not exceptions, rather consistent with Islamic thinking of that era and are "commonly encountered in polemical writing against the infidel in different parts of the Islamic world at different times", states Jackson. This antagonism towards Hindus may have other general reasons, such as the fear of apostasy given the tendency of everyday Muslims to join in with Hindus as they celebrated their religious festivals. Further, the succession struggle after the death of a Sultan usually led to political maneuvering by the next Sultan, where depending on the circumstances, the victor championed either the orthodox segment of the Islamic clergy and jurists, or gave concessions to the Hindus and other groups for support when the Sultanate facing a military threat from outside.
The army of Ala al-Din Khalji from Delhi Sultanate began their first campaign in 1310 against the Hindu kingdom in Madurai region – called Ma'bar by court historians, under the pretext of helping Sundar Pandya. According to Mehrdad Shokoohy – a scholar of Islamic studies and architectural history in Central and South Asia – this campaign lasted for a year during which Madurai and other Tamil region cities were overrun by the Muslims, the Hindu temples were demolished and the towns looted. A detailed record about the campaign by Amir Khusrau the destruction and plunder.
A second destructive campaign was launched by Mubarak Shah, Ala al-Din Khalji's successor. While the looted wealth was sent to Delhi, a Muslim governor was appointed for the region. The governor later rebelled, founded the short lived Madurai Sultanate and renamed himself as Sultan Ahsan Shah in 1334. The successive sultans of the new Sultanate did not have the support of the regional Hindu population. The Madurai Sultanate's army, states Shokoohy, "often exercised fierce and brutal repressive methods on the local people". The Sultanate faced constant battles with neighboring Hindu states and assassination by its own nobles. Sultan Sikandar Shah was the last sultan. He was killed by the invading forces of Vijayanagara Empire army in 1377.
The Muslim literature of this period record the motive of the Madurai Sultans. For example, Sultan Shams al-Din Adil Shah's general is described as leaving for "holy war against the infidels and taking from them great wealth and a vast amount of booty". Another record states, "he engaged in a holy war (ghaza) and killed a great number of infidels". Madurai region has several Islamic shrines with tombs built during this period, such as one for Ala al-Din and Shams al-Din. In this shrine, the inner columns are irregular and vary in form showing evidence of "reused material". The "destruction of temples and the re-use of their materials", states Shokoohy, was a "practice of the early Sultanates of North India, and we may assume that this tradition was brought to the south by the sultans of Ma'bar".
Indologist Crispin Branfoot said that the Madurai Sultanate "sacked and desecrated Hindu temples throughout the Tamil country", and these were restored and reconsecrated for worship by the Vijayanagara rulers.
The Mughal emperor Akbar has been a celebrated unusual example of tolerance. Indologist Richard Eaton writes that from Akbar's time to today, he has attracted conflicting labels, "from a strict Muslim to an apostate, from a free-thinker to a crypto-Hindu, from a Zoroastrian to a proto-Christian, from an atheist to a radical innovator". As a youth, states Eaton, Akbar studied Islam under both Shia and Sunni tutors, but as an adult he looked back with regret on his early life, confessing that in those days he had "persecuted men into conformity with my faith and deemed it Islam". In his later years he felt "an internal bitterness, acknowledging that his soul had been 'seized with exceeding sorrow'" for what he had done before launching his campaign to "treat all Mughal subjects, regardless of religion, on a basis of legal equality before the state".
The reign of Aurangzeb (1658-1707) witnessed one of the strongest campaigns of religious violence in the Mughal Empire's history. Aurangzeb is a controversial figure in modern India, often remembered as a "vile oppressor of Hindus". During his rule Aurangzeb expanded the Mughal Empire, conquering much of southern India through long bloody campaigns against non-Muslims. He forcibly converted Hindus to Islam and destroyed Hindu temples. He also re-introduced the jizya, a tax on non-Muslims, which had been suspended for the previous 100 years by his great-grandfather Akbar.
Aurangzeb ordered the desecration and destruction of temples when conquering new lands and putting down rebellions, punishing political leaders by destroying the temples that symbolized their power. In 1669 he issued orders 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". According to Richard Eaton these orders appear to have been directed not toward Hindu temples in general, but towards a more narrowly defined "deviant group". The number of Hindu temples destroyed or desecrated under Aurangzeb's rule is unclear, but may have been grossly exaggerated, and he probably built more temples than he destroyed. According to Ikram, "Aurangzeb tried to enforce strict Islamic law by ordering the destruction of newly built Hindu temples. Later, the procedure was adopted of closing down rather than destroying the newly built temples in Hindu localities. It is also true that very often the orders of destruction remained a dead letter." Some temples were destroyed entirely; in other cases mosques were built on their foundations, sometimes using the same stones. Idols in temples were smashed, and the city of Mathura was temporarily renamed as Islamabad in local official documents.
The persecution during the Islamic period targeted non-Hindus as well. In some cases, such as towards the end of Mughal era, the violence and persecution was mutual. Hindus too attacked and damaged Muslim tombs, even when the troops had orders not to harm religious refuges of Muslims. These "few examples of disrespect for Islamic sites", states Indologist Nicholas Gier, "pale in comparison to the great destruction of temples and general persecution of Hindus by Muslims for 500 years". Sources document brutal episodes of persecution. Sikh texts, for example, document their "Guru Teg Bahadur accompanying sixteen Hindu Brahmins on a quest to stop Mughal persecution of Hindus; they were arrested and commanded to convert to Islam on pain of torture and death", states Gier, "they all refused, and in November 1675, Mati Das was sawed in half, Dayal Das was boiled alive, Sati Das was burned alive, and Teg Bahadar was beheaded."
European colonial rule
During the Portuguese rule of Goa, several Hindus were coerced into accepting Christianity by the passage of laws that made it difficult for them to practice their faith (such as the ban on the practice of Sati) or harassed them under pretences or petty complaints. Other Hindus, especially the upper caste Bamonns and Chardos were convinced into accepting Christianity by offering favourable status to converts (indiacatos) and mestiços in terms of laws and jobs. An Inquisition - which literally means a period of prolonged and intensive questioning, was established in 1560 by Portuguese officials in the Estado Português da Índia. The Goa Inquisition was directed against backsliding New Christians (that is, former Hindus and Muslims who had recently converted to Christianity), and it has been recorded that around 57 Goan Catholics were executed over a period of two hundred and fifty years, starting in the year 1560. The inquisition was proposed by St. Francis Xavier, to ensure that the new converts were aware about the aspects of Christianity.
According to Prakashchandra Pandurang Shirodkar, Hindus faced some persecution along with some fortitude under the Portuguese in Goa. Vicar general Miguel Vaz had written to the king of Portugal in 1543 from Goa requesting that the Inquisition be established in Goa as well. Three years later, St. Francis Xavier made a similar request in view of the Muslims in the region and some New Christians abandoning their faith. On hearing of the excesses of the Inquisition in Goa, Lourenco Pires, Portuguese ambassador at Rome, expressed his displeasure to the crown while warning that this zeal for religion was actually becoming a disservice to God and the kingdom. Again according to Shirodkar, the Inquisition led to the downfall of the Portuguese Empire in the East.
Muslim and Hindu communities in British India have lived in a delicate balance since the end of Muslim rule. Violent clashes have often appeared, and the partition of India in 1947 has only perpetuated these confrontations.
Mappila Riots (1836–1921)
Mappila Riots or Mappila Outbreaks refers to a series of riots by the Mappila (Moplah) Muslims of Malabar, South India in the 19th century and the early 20th century (c.1836–1921) against native Hindus and the state. The Malabar Rebellion of 1921 is often considered as the culmination of Mappila riots. Mappilas committed several atrocities against the Hindus during the outbreak. Annie Besant reported that Muslim Mappilas forcibly converted many Hindus and killed or drove away all Hindus who would not apostatise, totalling the driven people to one lakh (100,000).
In 1946, around seven weeks after Direct Action Day (in which both Muslims and Hindus were targeted in communal attacks), violence was directed against the Hindu minority in the villages of Noakhali and Tippera in Chittagong district in East Bengal. Rioting in the region began in the Ramganj police station area. The rioting spread to the neighbouring police station areas of Raipur, Lakshmipur, Begumganj and Sandip in Noakhali and Faridganj, Hajiganj, Chandpur, Laksham and Chudagram in Tippera. From 2 October, there were instances of stray killings. Relief operations took place and Gandhiji visited the place on a peace mission even as threats against the Hindus continued. While claims varied, the official Muslim League Bengal Government estimates of those killed were placed at a conservative 200. According to Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, 9,895 people were forcibly converted in Tippera alone. Ghulam Sarwar Hossain, a religious leader who belonged to a local political party dominated by Muslims, was the main organiser of the riot. According to political scientist Bidyut Chakrabarty, Hindus widely believed that the local administration had planned the riot and that the police helped Ghulam Sarwar escape arrest. A large number of victims were Namasudra (a Bengali Hindu lower caste). According to a source quoting from the State Government Archives, in Naokhali 178 Hindus and 42 Muslims were killed while in Tippera 39 Hindus and 26 Muslims were killed. Women were abducted and forced into marriage.
In retaliation, Muslims were massacred in Bihar and in Garhmukteshwara in the United Provinces. These attacks began between 25 and 28 October 1946 in the Chhapra and Saran districts of Bihar and then spread to Patna, Munger, Bhagalpur and a large number of scattered villages of Bihar. The official estimates of the dead at that time were 445.
Partition of India
Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and members of other religious groups, experienced severe dislocation and violence during the massive population exchanges associated with the partition of India, as members of various communities moved to what they hoped was the relative safety of an area where they would be a religious majority. Hindus were among the between 200,000 and a million who died during the rioting and other violence associated with the partition.
Mirpur massacre and Rajouri massacre
The 1947 Mirpur massacre and the 1947–1948 Rajouri massacre of Hindus and Sikhs in the Jammu division of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, began in November 1947, some months after the Partition of India. The Rajouri Massacre ended in early 1948, when Indian troops retook the town of Rajouri.
Post 1947, especially after the 1980s, there have been a number of attacks on Hindu temples and Hindus by Muslim militants in India. 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-Taiba, resulting in many deaths and injuries.
The Godhra train burning on 27 February 2002 killed 59 people, including 25 women and 15 child Hindu pilgrims. In 2011, the judicial court convicted 31 people saying the incident was a "pre-planned conspiracy". This event eventually led to escalation into the 2002 Gujarat riots.
On 2 May 2003, eight Hindus were killed by a Muslim mob at Marad beach in Kozhikode district, Kerala. One of the attackers was also killed. The judicial commission that probed the incident concluded that members of several political parties were directly involved in planning and executing the killing. The commission affirmed "a clear communal conspiracy, with Muslim fundamentalist and terrorist organisations involved". The courts sentenced 62 Muslims to life imprisonment for committing the massacre in 2009.
In Tripura, in 2000 the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) attacked a Hindu temple and killed a spiritual leader there. They are known to have forcefully converted Hindus to Christianity.
In Meghalaya, in 2020 the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) gave an ultimatum to Bengali Hindus, from Bangladesh, to leave Ichamati and Majai regions. This was a response to a Khasi youth, identified as Lurshai Hynniewta, 35, a resident of Khliehshnong Sohra, who was attacked by non-tribals at Ichamati, died at Sohra CHC on Friday. The HNLC has seen a Hindutva connection in the killing of the Khasi youth.
From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, there was an armed campaign by the militants of the Khalistan Movement for a separate Sikh state, and in this period of insurgency, there were many incidents of targeted killings of Hindus by the militants. There were multiple killings of Hindu bus passengers by the pro-Khalistan militants during in the 1980s. Major incidents included the Lalru massacre of 38 Hindu bus passengers on 6 July 1987, by the Khalistan Commando Force militants near Lalru, Punjab, India.; and Fatehabad bus killings on 7 July 1987, in which 34 Hindus on two buses were killed. In most of these incidents, the attackers shot the Hindu passengers using automatic rifles.
According to the former Chief Minister of Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh, there were 35,000 Hindus killed during militancy in Punjab. From K.P.S Gill’s figures no more than 4,500 Hindus died in militancy. The data from court cases of the Supreme Court of India gives a lower death toll for Hindus at 3,817.
Jammu and Kashmir
The Kashmiri Pandit population living in the Muslim-majority region of Jammu and Kashmir has often come under threat from Islamic militants in recent years. Historians have suggested that some of these attacks have been in retaliation for the anti-Muslim violence propagated by the Hindutva movement during the demolition of the Babri Masjid, and the 2002 Gujarat riots. This threat has been pronounced during periods of unrest in the Kashmir valley, such as in 1989. In 1986, the Anantnag Riots broke out, where protesters targeted properties of Kashmiri Hindus and temples. Along with the Hindus, large sections of the Muslim population have also been attacked, ostensibly for "cooperating" with the Indian state. Some authors have found evidence that these militants had the support of the Pakistani security establishment. The incidents of violence included the Wandhama Massacre in 1998, in which 23 Kashmiri Hindus were gunned down by Muslims disguised as Indian soldiers. Many Kashmiri Non-Muslims have been killed and thousands of children orphaned over the course of the conflict in Kashmir. The 2000 Amarnath pilgrimage massacre was another such incident where 30 Hindu pilgrims were killed en route to the Amarnath Temple.
In the Kashmir region, approximately 300 Kashmiri Pandits were killed between September 1989 and 1990 in various incidents. 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. In the following days masked men ran in the streets with AK-47 shooting to kill Hindus who would not leave. Notices were placed on the houses of all Hindus, telling them to leave within 24 hours or die.
As of 2005, it is estimated that between 250,000 and 300,000 Kashmiri Pandits have migrated outside Kashmir since the 1990s due to persecution by Islamic fundamentalists in the largest case of ethnic cleansing since the partition of India. 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.
Many Kashmiri Pandits have been killed by Islamist militants in incidents such as the Wandhama massacre and the 2000 Amarnath pilgrimage massacre. The incidents of massacring and forced eviction was termed ethnic cleansing by Kanchan Gupta.
In October 2021, three terrorists shot a Kashmiri pandit school teacher and a Sikh school principal after checking their identity cards and segregating them from their Kashmiri Muslim colleagues in a government run school. Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba affiliated TRF claimed responsibility of the killings.
According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Hindus are among those persecuted in Bangladesh, with hundreds of cases of "killings, attempted killings, death threats, assaults, rapes, kidnappings, and attacks on homes, businesses, and places of worship" on religious minorities in 2017. The 'Vested Property Act' previously named the 'Enemy Property Act' has seen up to 40% of Hindu land get snatched away forcibly. Hindu temples in Bangladesh have also been vandalised.
There have been several instances where Hindu refugees from Bangladesh have stated that they were the victims of torture and intimidation. A US-based human rights organisation, Refugees International, has claimed that religious minorities, especially Hindus, still face discrimination in Bangladesh.
A minor party, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, openly calls for 'Talibanisation' of the state. Journalist Hiranmay Karlekar, writing in 2005 when Jamaat was part of the coalition government, described Talibanisation as impossible to stop, but said the country was not on the brink of it, and the overwhelming majority of society would fight against it tooth and nail.
Bangladeshi feminist Taslima Nasrin's 1993 novel Lajja deals with the anti-Hindu riots and anti-secular sentiment in Bangladesh in the wake of the Demolition of the Babri Masjid in India. The book was banned in Bangladesh, and helped draw international attention to the situation of the Bangladeshi Hindu minority.
In October 2006, the USCIRF published a report titled "Policy Focus on Bangladesh", which said that since its last election, "Bangladesh has experienced growing violence by religious extremists, intensifying concerns expressed by the countries religious minorities". The report further stated that Hindus are particularly vulnerable in a period of rising violence and extremism, whether motivated by religious, political or criminal factors, or some combination. The report noted that Hindus had multiple disadvantages against them in Bangladesh, such as perceptions of dual loyalty with respect to India and religious beliefs that are not tolerated by the politically dominant Islamic Fundamentalists of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Violence against Hindus has taken place "in order to encourage them to flee in order to seize their property". On 2 November 2006, USCIRF criticised Bangladesh for its continuing persecution of minority Hindus. It also urged the Bush administration to get Dhaka to ensure protection of religious freedom and minority rights before Bangladesh's next national elections in January 2007.
On 6 February 2010, Sonargaon temple in Narayanganj district of Bangladesh was destroyed by Islamic fanatics. Five people were seriously injured during the attack. Temples were also attacked and destroyed in 2011.
In 2013, the International Crimes Tribunal indicted several Jamaat members for war crimes against Hindus during the 1971 Bangladesh genocide. In retaliation, violence against Hindu minorities in Bangladesh was instigated by the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami. The violence included the looting of Hindu properties and businesses, the burning of Hindu homes, rape of Hindu women and desecration and destruction of Hindu temples.
On 28 February 2013, the International Crimes Tribunal sentenced Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, the Vice President of the Jamaat-e-Islami to death for the war crimes committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Following the sentence, activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir attacked the Hindus in different parts of the country. Hindu properties were looted, Hindu houses were burnt into ashes and Hindu temples were desecrated and set on fire. While the government has held the Jamaat-e-Islami responsible for the attacks on the minorities, the Jamaat-e-Islami leadership has denied any involvement. The minority leaders have protested the attacks and appealed for justice. The Supreme Court of Bangladesh has directed the law enforcement to start suo motu investigation into the attacks. US Ambassador to Bangladesh express concern about attack of Jamaat on Bengali Hindu community. The violence included the looting of Hindu properties and businesses, the burning of Hindu homes, rape of Hindu women and desecration and destruction of Hindu temples. According to community leaders, more than 50 Hindu temples and 1,500 Hindu homes were destroyed in 20 districts.
According to the BJHM report in 2017 alone, at least 107 people of the Hindu community were killed and 31 fell victims to enforced disappearance 782 Hindus were either forced to leave the country or threatened to leave. Besides, 23 were forced to get converted into other religions. At least 25 Hindu women and children were raped, while 235 temples and statues vandalized during the year. The total number of atrocities happened with the Hindu community in 2017 is 6474. During the 2019 Bangladesh elections, eight houses belonging to Hindu families on fire in Thakurgaon alone.
In April 2019, two idols of Hindu goddesses, Lakshmi and Saraswati, were vandalized by unidentified miscreants at a newly constructed temple in Kazipara of Brahmanbaria. In the same month, several idols of Hindu gods in two temples in Madaripur Sadar upazila which were under construction were desecrated by miscreants.
In October 2021 several Hindu temples, including an ISKCON center and homes belonging to Hindu community, across Bangladesh were vandalized and set on fire by a Muslim mob of over 10,000 protesters, and clashes were reported in at least 10 of the 64 districts, after an allegation of a Quran being placed on the lap of Hanuman during the Durga Puja religious ceremony. In Haziganj Upazila at least 4 were killed and 24 injured when police opened fire on a mob trying to attack the local temple there. According to Gobinda Chandra Pramanik, the secretary-general of the Bangladesh National Hindu Mahajote, at least 17 temples had been attacked and more than 100 people had been wounded. Shibu Prasad Roy, member of the organizing committee of the Durga Puja festival, says, "At first 15 to 20 people, aged between 14 and 18 years old, came to attack our temple in Cumilla. After that, the number increased to hundreds of people." Various reports suggests that the growing attack against the Hindu minority community in Bangladesh has been partly fueled by misinformation spread through social media. Asif Nazrul mentions that, hundreds of homes belonging to the Hindu community were burned due to a fake Facebook post alleging an insult to Islam by a Hindu in 2016, including a few dozen Buddhist temples destroyed by a Muslim mob in Cox's Bazar after a rumor circulated that a Buddhist had insulted the Quran. A report by The Economic Times alleged that, Jamaat-e-Islami were behind the attacks.
The cohorts of the ruling party Awami League and Chhatra League are often found affiliated in such attacks on Hindu communities followed by communal violence. Even in most of the cases officials found them masterminds behind the attacks to achieve political advantages.
Since 1951, the Hindu population has decreased by 15.1% in 71 years, and during the same period, the Muslim population increased by exactly the same 15.1% (76% to 91.1%). Percentage of Hindus declined more than two third (over 67% drop) in 71 years, i.e. from 22% of total population of Bangladesh in 1951 to 13.5% in 1974 (8.5% decrease in 20 years), and then to drop again to 6.9% in 2022 (further 1.6% decrease). Hindus and others have been regularly and systematically persecuted, such as during the Bangladesh genocide, Bangladesh Liberation War and numerous recurring massacres of civilians where rape is also used as a weapon. Active perpetrators of genocide, ethnic cleansing and rapes of Hindus in Bangladesh include the Pakistani Military, Al Badr, Al Sham, East Pakistan Central Peace Committee, Razakars, Muslim League, Jamaat-e-Islami, and the Urdu-speaking Biharis.
Ethnic cleansing of Lhotshampa Hindus was carried out by King Jigme Singye Wangchuk of Bhutan during the 1990s. In the early 1990s, several thousands of Bhutanese residents in southern Bhutan were ethnically cleansed by the authorities under the provisions of the amended Citizenship Act of 1985, because they followed the Hindu religion and culture, and had mixed Himalayan ethnicity, with one parent of Nepali origin. Nepal, like India, shares common Hindu and Buddhist traditions, but the majority of Bhutan's population is exclusively Buddhist and the royal family has demonstrably shown a pronounced bias against its Hindu citizens who have been settled there for centuries.
Refugees and diaspora
After the purge of the 1990s began, Bhutanese Hindus were forced to live in refugee camps set up by the UN High Commission for Refugees United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in eastern Nepal in 1992. With help of UNHCR and WHO, the majority of Bhutanese refugees are resettled to the United States, Canada, Australia, and European countries. There is a small number of refugees living in camps in Nepal still hoping to see their motherland for more than 30 years.