Persecution of Hindus
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Persecution of Hindus

While Hindus have experienced both historical and ongoing religious persecution and systematic violence, in the form of forced conversions, documented massacres, demolition and desecration of temples, as well as the destruction of educational centres, these events are to be viewed in their historical context and relative impact.

Definition of persecution

Divya Sharma, a sociologist and law scholar, states religious persecution is the "systematic mistreatment of people (individual or group) due to their religious beliefs".[1] According to Baofu, a political scientist, this systematic mistreatment may be any form of repression or alienation of a group or subculture. It is a significant and repeating dehumanization theme in human history, where one group alienates and sees someone with different religious beliefs as the other or inferior or different than their own sense of moral and personal identity.[2] Persecution is any systematic mistreatment where the victims experience "suffering, harassment, fear, pain, imprisonment, internment".[3] In cases of religious groups, persecution denies or limits religious freedoms. This includes state supported acts such as destroying or defacing religious icons and buildings, or targeting properties shared by a religious community during peace or war.[4]

Mohamed S.M. Eltayeb, writing on "the definition and understanding of internal persecution among Muslims" in the present time, states that "In its common usage, the term 'religious persecution' is used to describe a particularly serious situation of discrimination where a campaign or program is initiated to harass, intimidate, and punish a group because of its religious or moral beliefs."[5] Specifically, "religious persecution constitutes a situation of gross violations of the freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief where there is a consistent pattern of gross violations of the right to freedom of religion that includes violations of the right to life, personal integrity or personal liberty."[6] The distinction with religious intolerance is that the latter in most cases is in the sentiment of the population, which may be tolerated or encouraged by the state, while religious persecution and discrimination "signify active state policy and action."[7] Denial of civil rights on the basis of religion, yet without denying the freedom of religion, is most often described as religious discrimination, rather than religious persecution.[7]

Medieval era Muslim rulers

General effect

Parts of India have been subject to Muslim rule from the period of Muhammad bin 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,[note 1] in between the periods of wars and conquests, there were harmonious Hindu-Muslim relations in most Indian communities,[9] and the Indian population grew during the medieaval 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.[9]

According to Romila Thapar, with the onset of Muslim rule all Indians, higher and lower caste, came to be regarded as mleccha, and 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 "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."[10] Hindutva-allies have even framed the Muslim-violence against Hindu-expressions of faith as a "Hindu Holocaust,"[11]

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 ?aiva 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. It is quite correct to mention that Muslim iconoclasts destroyed temples and the broke images of Hindus, states Thapar, it should also be mentioned that Muslim rulers made donations to Hindu sects during their rule.[10]

During the Islamic rule period, states David Lorenzen, there was state-sponsored persecution against Hindus, yet it was sporadic and directed mostly at Hindu religious monuments.[12] 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.[13] During the medieval span, she states, "episodes of direct religious persecution of Hindus were rare", as were communal riots between Hindus and Muslims.[14]

Destruction of religious architecture

According to Wink, the mutilation and destruction of Hindu religious idols and temples were an attack attack on Hindu religious practice,[15][note 2] and the Muslim destruction of religious architecture was a means to eradicate the vestiges of Hindu religious symbols.[16] Muslim texts of this period justify it based on their contempt and abhorence for idols and idolators in Islamic thought.[16][note 3] 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.[19][20] Yet, states 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.[19]

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.[21] 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.[22] 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.[23] Hindu temples were centres of political resistance which had to be suppressed.[22]

Effect on Hindu learning

The destruction of temples and educational institutions, the killings of learned monks and the scattering of students, led to a widespread decline in Hindu education.[] With the fall of Hindu kings, science research and philosophy faced some setbacks due to a lack of funding, royal support, and an open environment.[] Despite unfavourable treatment under the Muslim rule, Brahmanical education continued and was also patronised by rulers like Akbar and others. 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.[24]

While Sanskrit language and research on Vedantic philosophy faced a period of struggle, with Muslim rulers often targeting well-established and well-known educational institutions that were often suffering at the time, the traditional educational institutions in villages continued as before,[24] vernacular regional languages based on Sanskrit thrived. A lot of Vedantic literature got translated into these languages between 12th to 15th centuries.[25]

Muhammad bin-Qasim (8th. cent.) and the Chachnama

Muslim conquest of the Indian subcontinent began in early 8th century AD with a Muhammad bin-Qasim led army. This campaign is narrated in the 13th-century surviving manuscript of Chach Nama by Bakr K?f?, which was claimed to be based on an earlier Arabic record.[26]

Doubtful source

The historicity of Chachnama 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".[27] 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 Chachnama 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.[28] Wink states that some scholars treat Chachnama and other Muslim texts of its era, as "largely pseudo-history". He concurs that the skepticism about each individual source is justified and Chachnama is part fiction.[29][30] Yet, adds Wink, 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.[29]

Narrative

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.[31][32] According to André 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).[33] 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.[33] Yohanan Friedmann however finds that Chachnama holds most of the contemporary religious as well as political authority to have 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.[34] Friedmann also notes that bin-Qasim gave "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.[34] 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".[34]

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.[35]

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.[36]

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.[37] 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.[38] 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.[37] 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.[39][40] 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.[41]

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.[42][43][44][45] 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.[41] 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,"[37] and their broken parts consistently reused to make Islamic monuments.[41][note 4] Phyllis Granoff notes that "medieval Indian religious groups faced a serious crisis as invading Muslim armies sacked temples and defaced sacred image".[47]

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.[48] The religious icons of Hindus were one of the targets of these Islamic campaigns.[39]

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.[49]

The second half of the 13th-century witnessed raids on Hindu kingdoms by Muslim forces controlling the northwest and north India, states Peter Jackson.[50] 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 the infidel prince by weakening his standing among his Hindu subjects.[50] These raids were into Rajput kingdoms, those in central India, Lakhnawti-Awadh, and in eastern regions such as Bihar.[51]

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.[37][52]

Delhi Sultanate (13-16th century)

The Delhi Sultanate started in the 13th-century and continued through the early 16th-century, when the Mughal conquest replaced it. The Delhi Sultans of this period saw themselves first and foremost as Islamic rulers, states Peter Jackson, for the "people of Islam".[53] 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".[53] 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".[53]

Some of the conquered Hindu subjects of the Delhi Sultanate served these Sultans, who states Jackson, 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.[54] Additionally, captured Hindu slaves were added as infantry troops in the Sultanate's army for their campaign against other Hindu kingdoms.[54] 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.[54]

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.[55] 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.[56] This discrimination against Hindus was in force in the latter half of the 14th-century, states Jackson, yet it is difficult to establish if and how this was enforced outside of the major centers under Muslim control.[56]

The Muslim commanders of Delhi Sultanate regularly raided Hindu kingdoms for plunder, mulct their treasuries and looted the Hindu temples therein, states Jackson.[57] These conquests of Delhi Sultanate armies damaged or destroyed many Hindu temples. Yet, 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".[58] 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. That is questionable and has no corroborating evidence, states Jackson. Similar few examples near Delhi, such as one for Sri Krishna Bhagwan temple, cannot be verified whether they were ever built either.[58]

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.[59] But generally, states Jackson, 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.[59] In some cases, the policies on destroying or letting Hindus worship in their old temples changed as Sultans changed.[59]

The Muslim nobles and advisors of the Sultans championed persecution of Hindus. The Muslim texts of that era, states Jackson, 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".[60][61] 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 till 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.[60] 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.[60][62] 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.[60]

Madurai Sultanate

First campaigns

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.[63] A detailed record about the campaign by Amir Khusrau the destruction and plunder.[63]

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.[63] 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".[64] 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.[64]

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".[65] Another record states, "he engaged in a holy war (ghaza) and killed a great number of infidels".[65] 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".[66]

The Madurai Sultanate "sacked and desecrated Hindu temples throughout the Tamil country", and these were restored and reconsecrated for worship by the Vijayanagara rulers, states the Indologist Crispin Branfoot.[67]

Mughal Empire

The Mughal emperor Akbar has been a celebrated unusual example of tolerance. In his times, as well as in the modern studies, states Indologist Richard Eaton, he has attracted conflicting monikers such as a "strict Muslim, apostate of Islam, crypto-Hindu, free thinker and 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 their religion, on a basis of legal equality before the state".[68]

Aurangzeb

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".[69] 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.[70][71] He also re-introduced the jizya, a tax on non-Muslims,[72] which had been suspended for the previous 100 years.[73]

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.[74][75] 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".[76] 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."[77] The number of Hindu temples destroyed or desecrated under Aurangzeb's rule is unclear, but may have been grossly exaggerated,[note 5] and he probably built more temples than he destroyed.[79] 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."[80] 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.[76][81]

The persecution during the Islamic period targeted non-Hindus as well.[note 6] 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".[83] 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."[84]

European colonial rule

Portuguese Goa

St. Francis Xavier who requested the Inquisition in 1545

During the Portuguese rule of Goa, thousands of Hindus were coerced into accepting Christianity by the passage of laws that made it difficult for them to practice their faith, harassed them under false pretences or petty complaints, and gave favourable status to converts (indiacatos) and mestiços in terms of laws and jobs.[85] The Goa Inquisition, was established in 1560 by Portuguese missionaries in the Estado Português da Índia. The Goa Inquisition was directed against backsliding converts (that is, former Hindus and Muslims who had converted to Christianity), and it has been recorded that at least 57 Goans were executed over a period of three hundred years, starting in the year 1560.[86][87] The inquisition was proposed by St. Francis Xavier.[88][89]

According to Teotónio de Souza the Hindus faced severe persecution with great fortitude under the Portuguese in Goa.[90] 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 Francis Xavier made a similar request in view of the Muslims in the region and the 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 de Souza, the Inquisition led to the downfall of the Portuguese Empire in the East.[90]

South Asia

Muslim and Hindu communities in South Asia 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.[91] Mappilas committed several atrocities against the Hindus during the outbreak.[92][93] 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).[94]

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.[95]

Mirpur Massacre and Rajouri Massacre

The Mirpur Massacre and Rajouri Massacre of Hindus and Sikhs in 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.

Noakhali Riots

Around seven weeks after Direct Action Day, violence was directed against the Hindu minority in the villages of Noakhali and Tippera in Chittagong district in East Bengal.[96][97] Rioting in the region began in the Ramganj police station area by a mob.[98] 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.[98] From 2 October, there were instances of stray killings.[99]

Relief operations took place and Gandhiji visited the place on a peace mission even as threats against the Hindus continued.[100] While claims varied, the official Muslim League Bengal Government estimates of those killed were placed at a conservative 200.[101] According to Suhrawardy 9,895 people were forcibly converted in Tippera alone.[102] Ghulam Sarwar Hossain, a religious leader who belonged to a local political party dominated by Muslims,[103] was the main organiser of the riot.[104] It was said that the local administration had planned the riot and that the police helped Ghulam Sarwar escape arrest.[104] A large number of victims were Namasudra (a Bengali Hindu lower caste).[105] 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.[106] Women were abducted and forced into marriage.[97][106] In retaliation Muslims were massacred in Bihar and in Garhmukteshwara in the United Provinces.[98] These attacks began between 25 and 28 October in the Chhapra and Saran districts of Bihar and then spread to Patna, Munger, Bhagalpur and a large number of scattered villages of Bihar.[98] The official estimates of the dead at that time were 445.[98]

Pakistan

In contemporary Pakistan, Hindus constitute nearly 2 percent (actual is 1.85%) Pakistan's population, lower than their percentage in 1947 when Pakistan emerged as a nation out of British India (that is 12.14%).[107][108][109]

The Hindus are one of the persecuted minority religions in Pakistan. Militancy and sectarianism has been rising in Pakistan since the 1990s, and the religious minorities such as Hindus have "borne the brunt of the Islamist's ferocity" suffering "greater persecution than in any earlier decade", states Farahnaz Ispahani - a Public Policy Scholar at the Wilson Center. This has led to attacks and forced conversion of the Hindus.[110][111][112]

The London-based Minority Rights Group and Islamabad-based International and Sustainable Development Policy Institute state that religious minorities in Pakistan such as Hindus face "high levels of religious discrimination", and "legal and social discrimination in almost every aspect of their lives, including political participation, marriage and freedom of belief".[113] Similarly, the Brussels-based Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization stated in 2019, that "religious minorities, including Hindus" have perpetually been subjected to attacks and discrimination by extremist groups and the society at large."[114]

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedoms (USCIRF) echos a similar view, stating that "extremist groups and societal actors [have] continued to discriminate against and attack religious minorities" in Pakistan.[115][116][117] The European Parliament, similarly has expressed its concerns to Pakistan of systemic persecution of minorities citing examples of attack on Hindu temples (and Christian Churches), hundreds of honor killings, citing its blasphemy laws that "make it dangerous for religious minorities to express themselves freely or engage openly in religious activities".[118] The European Parliament has adopted resolutions of concern stating that "for years Pakistan's blasphemy laws have raised global concern because accusations are often motivated by score-settling, economic gain or religious intolerance, and foster a culture of vigilantism giving mobs a platform for harassment and attacks" against its religious minorities such as Hindus.[119][120][121]

In the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition Pakistani Hindus faced riots. Mobs attacked five Hindu temples in Karachi and set fire to 25 temples in towns across the province of Sindh. Shops owned by Hindus were also attacked in Sukkur. Hindu homes and temples were also attacked in Quetta.[122]

1971 Bangladesh genocide

During the 1971 Bangladesh genocide there were widespread killings and acts of ethnic cleansing of civilians in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan, a province of Pakistan), and widespread violations of human rights were carried out by the Pakistani Army, which was supported by political and religious militias during the Bangladesh Liberation War. In Bangladesh, the atrocities are identified as a genocide. Time magazine reported that "The Hindus, who account for three-fourths of the refugees and a majority of the dead, have borne the brunt of the Muslim military's hatred."[123]

United States government cables noted that Hindus were specific targets of the Pakistani army.[124][125] There was widespread killing of Hindu males, and rapes of women. Documented incidents in which Hindus were massacred in large numbers include the Jathibhanga massacre,[] the Chuknagar massacre, and the Shankharipara massacre.[126] More than 60% of the Bengali refugees who fled to India were Hindus.[127][128] It has been alleged that this widespread violence against Hindus was motivated by a policy to purge East Pakistan of what was seen as Hindu and Indian influences.[129][130]

The genocide in Bangladesh began on 26 March 1971 with the launch of Operation Searchlight,[131] as West Pakistan (now Pakistan) began a military crackdown on the Eastern wing (now Bangladesh) of the nation. The act was motivated by religious and political reasons. [132] During the nine-month-long Bangladesh War for Liberation, members of the Pakistani military and supporting pro Pakistani Islamist militias from Jamaat-e-Islami party[133] killed between 200,000 and 3,000,000[134][135][136] people and raped between 200,000 and 400,000 Bengali women,[136][137] according to Bangladeshi and Indian sources,[138] in a systematic campaign of genocidal rape.[139][140] The actions against women were supported by Pakistan's religious leaders, who declared that Bengali women were gonimoter maal (Bengali for "public property").[141] As a result of the conflict, a further eight to ten million people, mostly Hindus,[142] fled the country to seek refuge in neighbouring India. It is estimated that up to 30 million civilians were internally displaced[136] out of 70 million.[143] During the war, there was also ethnic violence between Bengalis and Urdu-speaking Biharis.[144] Biharis faced reprisals from Bengali mobs and militias[145] and from 1,000[146] to 150,000[147][148] were killed.

According to R.J. Rummel, professor of political science at the University of Hawaii,

The genocide and gendercidal atrocities were also perpetrated by lower-ranking officers and ordinary soldiers. These "willing executioners" were fueled by an abiding anti-Bengali racism, especially against the Hindu minority. "Bengalis were often compared with monkeys and chickens. Said General Niazi, 'It was a low lying land of low lying people.' The Hindus among the Bengalis were as Jews to the Nazis: scum and vermin that [should] best be exterminated. As to the Moslem Bengalis, they were to live only on the sufferance of the soldiers: any infraction, any suspicion cast on them, any need for reprisal, could mean their death. And the soldiers were free to kill at will. The journalist Dan Coggin quoted one Pakistani captain as telling him, "We can kill anyone for anything. We are accountable to no one." This is the arrogance of Power.[149]

The Bangladesh Liberation War (1971) resulted in one of the largest genocides of the 20th century. While estimates of the number of casualties was 3,000,000, it is reasonably certain that Hindus bore a disproportionate brunt of the Pakistan Army's onslaught against the Bengali population of what was East Pakistan. An article in Time magazine dated 2 August 1971, stated "The Hindus, who account for three-fourths of the refugees and a majority of the dead, have borne the brunt of the Muslim military hatred."[150] Senator Edward Kennedy wrote in a report that was part of United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations testimony dated 1 November 1971, "Hardest hit have been members of the Hindu community who have been robbed of their lands and shops, systematically slaughtered, and in some places, painted with yellow patches marked "H". All of this has been officially sanctioned, ordered and implemented under martial law from Islamabad". In the same report, Senator Kennedy reported that 80% of the refugees in India were Hindus and according to numerous international relief agencies such as UNESCO and World Health Organization the number of East Pakistani refugees at their peak in India was close to 10 million. Given that the Hindu population in East Pakistan was around 11 million in 1971, this suggests that up to 8 million, or more than 70% of the Hindu population had fled the country. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sydney Schanberg covered the start of the war and wrote extensively on the suffering of the East Bengalis, including the Hindus both during and after the conflict. In a syndicated column "The Pakistani Slaughter That Nixon Ignored", he wrote about his return to liberated Bangladesh in 1972. "Other reminders were the yellow "H"s the Pakistanis had painted on the homes of Hindus, particular targets of the Muslim army" (by "Muslim army", meaning the Pakistan Army, which had targeted Bengali Muslims as well), (Newsday, 29 April 1994).

India

There have been a number of more recent 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,[151] and the 2006 Varanasi bombings (supposedly perpetrated by 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".[152][153][154]

In Tripura, 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.[155][156]

In Assam, members of the primarily Christian Hmar ethnic group have placed bloodstained-crosses in temples and forced Hindus to convert at gunpoint.[157]

In Meghalaya, the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) threatened Bengali Hindus to leave Ichamati and Majai regions.[158]

The period of insurgency in Punjab around Operation Blue Star saw clashes of the Sikh militants with the police, as well as with the Hindu-Nirankari groups resulting in many Hindu deaths. In 1987, 32 Hindus were pulled out of a bus and shot near Lalru in Punjab by Sikh militants.[159]

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.[160] The commission affirmed "a clear communal conspiracy, with Muslim fundamentalist and terrorist organisations involved".[160] The courts sentenced 62 Muslims to life imprisonment for committing the massacre in 2009.[161]

Kashmir

Ruins of the Martand Sun Temple. The temple was completely destroyed on the orders of Muslim Sultan Sikandar Butshikan in the early 15th century, with demolition lasting a year.[162][163]

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, in stark contrast to centuries of peace between the two religious communities in the state. 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.[164] This threat has been pronounced during periods of unrest in the Kashmir valley, such as in 1989. 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.[165][166] The incidents of violence included the Wandhama Massacre in 1998, in which 24 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.[167]

In the Kashmir region, approximately 300 Kashmiri Pandits were killed between September 1989 to 1990 in various incidents.[168] 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.[168] In the following days masked men ran in the streets with AK-47 shooting to kill Hindus who would not leave.[168] Notices were placed on the houses of all Hindus, telling them to leave within 24 hours or die.[168]

As of 2005, it is estimated that between 250,000 and 300,000 pandits have migrated outside Kashmir since the 1990s[169][168] due to persecution by Islamic fundamentalists in the largest case of ethnic cleansing since the partition of India.[170] 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.[171]

Many Kashmiri Pandits have been killed by Islamist militants in incidents such as the Wandhama massacre and the 2000 Amarnath pilgrimage massacre.[172][173][174][175][176] The incidents of massacring and forced eviction have been termed ethnic cleansing by some observers.[168]

Bangladesh

According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, 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.[177]

There have been several instances where Hindu refugees from Bangladesh have stated that they were the victims of torture and intimidation.[178][179][180] A US-based human rights organisation, Refugees International, has claimed that religious minorities, especially Hindus, still face discrimination in Bangladesh.[181]

One of the major political parties in Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, openly calls for 'Talibanisation' of the state.[182][183][184] However, the prospect of actually "Talibanizing" the state is regarded as a remote possibility, since Bangladeshi Islamic society is generally more progressive than the extremist Taliban of Afghanistan. Political scholars conclude that while the Islamization of Bangladesh will not happen, the country is not on the brink of being Talibanized.[182] The 'Vested Property Act' previously named the 'Enemy Property Act' has seen up to 40% of Hindu land snatched away forcibly. Hindu temples in Bangladesh have also been vandalised.[185]

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 United States Commission on International Religious Freedom 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".[186] 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.[186]

On 6 February 2010, Sonargaon temple in Narayanganj district of Bangladesh was destroyed by Islamic fanatics. Five people were seriously injured during the attack.[187] Temples were also attacked and destroyed in 2011.[188]

In 2013, the International Crimes Tribunal indicted several Jamaat members for war crimes against Hindus during the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities. 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.[189]

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.[190] [191] 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.[192][193] 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.[189] According to community leaders, more than 50 Hindu temples and 1,500 Hindu homes were destroyed in 20 districts.[194]

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.[195] During the 2019 Bangladesh elections, eight houses belonging to Hindu families on fire in Thakurgaon alone.[196]

In April 2019, two idols of Hindu goddesses, Lakshmi and Saraswati, have been vandalized by unidentified miscreants at a newly constructed temple in Kazipara of Brahmanbaria.[197] In the same month, several idols of Hindu gods in two temples in Madaripur Sadar upazila which were under construction were desecrated by miscreants.[198]

Pakistan

Hindus in Pakistan are often treated as second class citizens, systematically discriminated and dehumanised.[199] Hindu women have also been known to be victims of kidnapping and forced conversion to Islam.[200] A member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan claimed in 2010, though without official record, that around 20 to 25 girls from the Hindu community, along with people from other minorities like Christians, are abducted every month and forcibly converted.[201] Many Hindus are continuing to flee Pakistan even now due to persecution.[202] Krishan Bheel, a Hindu member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, came into the news recently for manhandling Qari Gul Rehman after being taunted with a religious insult.[203]

Hindu Community in Pakistan

On 18 October 2005, Sanno Amra and Champa, a Hindu couple residing in the Punjab Colony, Karachi, Sindh returned home to find that their three teenage daughters had disappeared. After inquiries to the local police, the couple discovered that their daughters had been taken to a local madrassah, had been converted to Islam, and were denied unsupervised contact with their parents.[204] In January 2017, a Hindu temple was demolished in Pakistan's Haripur district.[205]

A Pakistan Muslim League politician has stated that abduction of Hindus and Sikhs is a business in Pakistan, along with conversions of Hindus to Islam.[206] Forced conversion, rape, and forced marriages of Hindu women in Pakistan have recently become very controversial in Pakistan.[207][208]

In 2006, a Hindu temple in Lahore was destroyed to pave the way for construction of a multi-storied commercial building. When reporters from Pakistan-based newspaper Dawn tried to cover the incident, they were accosted by the henchmen of the property developer, who denied that a Hindu temple existed at the site.[209] In January 2014, a policeman standing guard outside a Hindu temple at Peshawar was gunned down.[210] 25 March 2014 Express Tribune citing an All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement (PHRM) survey said that 95% of all Hindu temples in Pakistan have been converted since 1990.[211] Pakistanis attack Hindu temples if anything happens to any mosque in neighbouring India.[122] In 2019, a Hindu temple Pakistan's southern Sindh province was vandalism by miscreants and they set fire to holy books and idols inside the temple.[212]

Although Hindus were frequently soft targets in Pakistan,[213][214] the rise of Taliban forces in the political arena has particularly unsettled the already fragile situation for the minority community. Increasing persecution, ostracism from locals and lack of a social support system is forcing more and more Hindus to flee to India.[215][216] This has been observed in the past whenever the conflicts between the two nations escalated,[217] but this has been a notable trend in view of the fact the recent developments are due to internal factors almost exclusively. The Taliban have used false methods of luring, as well as the co-operation of zealots within local authorities to perpetrate religious cleansing.[218]

In July 2010, around 60 members of the minority Hindu community in Karachi were attacked and evicted from their homes following an incident of a Hindu youth drinking water from a tap near an Islamic mosque.[219][220] In January 2014, a policeman standing guard outside a Hindu temple at Peshawar was gunned down.[210] Pakistan's Supreme Court has sought a report from the government on its efforts to ensure access for the minority Hindu community to temples - the Karachi bench of the apex court was hearing applications against the alleged denial of access to the members of the minority community.[221][222][223]

In 2005, 32 Hindus were killed by firing from the government side near Nawab Akbar Bugti's residence during bloody clashes between Bugti tribesmen and paramilitary forces in Balochistan. The firing left the Hindu residential locality near Bugti's residence badly hit.[224]

The rise of Taliban insurgency in Pakistan has been an influential and increasing factor in the persecution of and discrimination against religious minorities in Pakistan, such as Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, and other minorities. Hindu minorities living under the influence of the Taliban in Swat, Pakistan, were forced to wear red headgear such as turbans as a symbol of dhimmi.[215] In January 2014, in an attack on a temple, the guard was gunned down.[210]

Some Hindus in Pakistan feel that they are treated as second-class citizens and many have continued to migrate to India.[213][225] According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan data, just around 1,000 Hindu families fled to India in 2013.[226] In May 2014, a member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, revealed in the National Assembly of Pakistan that around 5,000 Hindus are migrating from Pakistan to India every year.[227]

Many Hindu girls living in Pakistan are kidnapped, forcibly converted and married to Muslims.[228] According to the Pakistan Hindu Council, religious persecution especially forced conversions to remain the foremost reason for the migration of Hindus from Pakistan. Religious institutions like Bharchundi Sharif and Sarhandi Pir support forced conversions and are known to have support and protection of ruling political parties of Sindh.[229] According to the National Commission of Justice and Peace and the Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC) around 1000 Christian and Hindu minority women are converted to Islam and then forcibly married off to their abductors or rapists. This practice is being reported increasingly in the districts of Tharparkar, Umerkot and Mirpur Khas in Sindh.[229] According to another report from the Movement for Solidarity and Peace, about 1,000 non-Muslim girls are converted to Islam each year in Pakistan.[230] According to the Amarnath Motumal, the vice chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, every month, an estimated 20 or more Hindu girls are abducted and converted, although exact figures are impossible to gather.[228] In 2014 alone, 265 legal cases of forced conversion were reported mostly involving Hindu girls.[231]

In 2010 also, 57 Hindus were forced to convert by their employer as his sales dropped after Muslims started boycotting his eatable items as they were prepared by Hindus. Since the impoverished Hindus had no other way to earn and needed to keep the job to survive, hence they converted.[232]

In September 2019, Hindu teacher was attacked and three Hindu temples were vandalised in Ghotki riots over blasphemy accusations.[233] In 2020, Hindu temple in Tharparkar, Sindh was vandalised by miscreants.The miscreants desecrated the idols and set fire to holy scriptures.[234]

In 2020, an Islamist mob desecrated the construction site of the first Hindu temple in Islamabad-Shri Krishna Temple Islamabad.[235] Subsequently, the Pakistan government halted the construction of the temple and referred the issue to the Council of Islamic Ideology, a constitutional body set up to ensure compliance of state policy with Islamic Ideology. Punjab Assembly speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, a member of Pakistan Muslim League - Quaid, stated that construction of the temple was " against the spirit of Islam". Jamia Ashrafia, a Lahore-based Islamic institution, issued a fatwa against the temple.[236][237]

Malaysia

Approximately nine percent of the population of Malaysia are Tamil Indians, of whom nearly 90 percent are practising Hindus. Indian settlers came to Malaysia from Tamil Nadu in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Between April to May 2006, several Hindu temples were demolished by city hall authorities in the country, accompanied by violence against Hindus.[238] On 21 April 2006, the Malaimel Sri Selva Kaliamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur was reduced to rubble after the city hall sent in bulldozers.[239]

The president of the Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam in Selangor State has been helping to organise efforts to stop the local authorities in the Muslim dominated city of Shah Alam from demolishing a 107-year-old Hindu temple. The growing Islamization in Malaysia is a cause for concern to many Malaysians who follow minority religions such as Hinduism.[240] On 11 May 2006, armed city hall officers from Kuala Lumpur forcefully demolished part of a 60-year-old suburban temple that serves more than 1,000 Hindus. The "Hindu Rights Action Force", a coalition of several NGO's, have protested these demolitions by lodging complaints with the Malaysian Prime Minister.[241] Many Hindu advocacy groups have protested what they allege is a systematic plan of temple cleansing in Malaysia. The official reason given by the Malaysian government has been that the temples were built "illegally". However, several of the temples are centuries old.[241] According to a lawyer for the Hindu Rights Action Task Force, a Hindu temple is demolished in Malaysia once every three weeks.[242]

Malaysian Muslims have also grown more anti-Hindu over the years. In response to the proposed construction of a temple in Selangor, Muslims chopped off the head of a cow to protest, with leaders saying there would be blood if a temple was constructed in Shah Alam.[243]

Laws in the country, especially those concerning religious identity, are generally slanted towards compulsion into converting to Islam.[244]

Myanmar

Hindu villagers gather to identify the corpses of family members who were killed in the Kha Maung Seik massacre.

On 25 August 2017, the villages in a cluster known as Kha Maung Seik in northern Maungdaw District of Rakhine State in Myanmar were attacked by Rohingya Muslims of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).This was called Kha Maung Seik massacre. Amnesty International said that about 99 Hindus were killed in that day.[245][246] Due to these, many Rohingya Hindus have started identifying themselves as Chittagonian Hindus rather than Rohingyas.[247] In Myanmar and in Bangladeshi refugee camps--according to some media accounts--Hindu Rohingyas (particularly women) faced kidnapping, religious abuse and "forced conversions" at the hands of Muslim Rohingyas.[248]

Afghanistan

According to Ashish Bose - a Population Research scholar, after the 1980s, Hindus (and Sikhs) became a subject of "intense hate" with the rise of religious fundamentalism in Afghanistan.[249] Their "targeted persecution" triggered an exodus and forced them to seek asylum.[250][249] Many of the persecuted Hindus started arriving in and after 1992 as refugees in India.[249][250] While these refugees were mostly Sikhs and Hindus, some were Muslims.[249] However, India has historically lacked any refugee law or uniform policy for persecuted refugees, state Ashish Bose and Hafizullah Emadi.[249][251]

Under the Taliban regime, Sumptuary laws were passed in 2001 which forced Hindus to wear yellow badges in public in order to identify themselves as such. This was similar to Adolf Hitler's treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany during World War II[252] Hindu women were forced to dress according to Islamic hijab, ostensibly a measure to "protect" them from harassment. This was part of the Taliban's plan to segregate "un-Islamic" and "idolatrous" communities from Islamic ones.[253] In addition, Hindus were forced to wear yellow distinguishing marks, however, after some protests Taliban abandoned this policy.[254]

The decree was condemned by the Indian and United States governments as a violation of religious freedom.[255] Widespread protests against the Taliban regime broke out in Bhopal, India. In the United States, the chairman of the Anti-Defamation League Abraham Foxman compared the decree to the practices of Nazi Germany, where Jews were required to wear labels which identified them as such.[256] The comparison was also drawn by California Democrat and holocaust survivor Tom Lantos, and New York Democrat and author of the bipartisan 'Sense of the Congress' non-binding resolution against the anti-Hindu decree Eliot L Engel.[252]

Since the 1990s many Afghan Hindus have fled the country, seeking asylum in countries such as Germany.[257]

Kazakhstan

In 2005 and 2006 Kazakh officials persistently and repeatedly tried to close down the Hare Krishna farming community near Almaty.

On 20 November 2006, three buses full of riot police, two ambulances, two empty lorries, and executors of the Karasai district arrived at the community in sub-zero weather and evicted the Hare Krishna followers from thirteen homes, which the police proceeded to demolish.

The Forum 18 News Service reported, "Riot police who took part in the destruction threw the personal belongings of the Hare Krishna devotees into the snow, and many devotees were left without clothes. Power for lighting and heating systems had been cut off before the demolition began. Furniture and larger household belongings were loaded onto trucks. Officials said these possessions would be destroyed. Two men who tried to prevent the bailiffs from entering a house to destroy it were seized by 15 police officers who twisted their hands and took them away to the police car."[258]

The Hare Krishna community had been promised that no action would be taken before the report of a state commission - supposedly set up to resolve the dispute - was made public. On the day the demolition began, the commission's chairman, Amanbek Mukhashev, told Forum 18, "I know nothing about the demolition of the Hare Krishna homes - I'm on holiday." He added, "As soon as I return to work at the beginning of December we will officially announce the results of the Commission's investigation." Other officials also refused to comment.

The United States urged Kazakhstan's authorities to end what it called an "aggressive" campaign against the country's tiny Hare Krishna community.[259]

Saudi Arabia

On 24 March 2005, Saudi authorities destroyed religious items found in a raid on a makeshift Hindu shrine found in an apartment in Riyadh.[260]

United States

Hindus constitute 0.7% of the total population of the United States.[261] They are also the most affluent religious group.[262][263] Hindus in the US enjoy both de jure and de facto legal equality. However, a series of threats and attacks were committed against people of Indian origin by a street gang called the "Dotbusters" in New Jersey in 1987. The name originated from the bindi traditionally worn on the forehead by Indian women.[264]

In October 1987, a group of youths attacked Navroze Mody, an Indian man of Parsi origin, who was mistaken for a Hindu, after he had left the Gold Coast Cafe with his friend who fell into a coma. Mody died four days later. The four convicted of the attack were Luis Acevedo, Ralph Gonzalez and Luis Padilla - who were convicted of aggravated assault; and William Acevedo - who was convicted of simple assault. The attack was with fists and feet and with an unknown object that was described as either a baseball bat or a brick, and occurred after members of the group, which was estimated as being between ten and twelve youths, had surrounded Mr. Mody and taunted him for his baldness as either "Kojak" or "baldie". Mody's father, Jamshid Mody, later brought charges against the city and police force of Hoboken, New Jersey, claiming that "the Hoboken police's indifference to acts of violence perpetrated against Asian Indians violated Navroze Mody's equal protection rights" under the Fourteenth Amendment.[265] Mody lost the case; the court ruled that the attack had not been proven a hate crime, nor had there been proven any malfeasance by the police or prosecutors of the city.[265]

A few days after the attack on Mody, another Indian was beaten into a coma; this time on a busy street corner in Jersey City Heights. The victim, Kaushal Saran, was found unconscious at Central and Ferry Avenues, near a city park and firehouse, according to police reports. Saran, a licensed physician in India who was awaiting licensing in the United States, was discharged later from University Hospital in Newark.[266] The unprovoked attack left Saran in a partial coma for over a week with severe damage to his skull and brain. In September 1992, Thomas Kozak, Martin Ricciardi, and Mark Evangelista were brought to trial on federal civil rights charges in connection with the attack on Saran. However, the three were acquitted of the charges in two separate trials in 1993. Saran testified at both trials that he could not remember the incident.[267]

The Dotbusters were primarily based in New York and New Jersey and committed most of their crimes in Jersey City. Although tougher anti-hate crime laws were passed by the New Jersey legislature in 1990, the attacks continued, with 58 cases of hate crimes against Indians in New Jersey reported in 1991.[268]

On 2 January 2012, a Hindu worship center in New York City was firebombed.[269]

In late January 2019, an attack on the Swaminarayan Temple in Louisville, Kentucky resulted in damage and Hinduphobic graffiti on the temple. A cleanup effort was later organised by the mayor to spread awareness of Hinduism and other hate crimes. An arrest of a 17 year old was made for the hate crime days later.[270][271][272]

Trinidad and Tobago

During the initial decades of Indian indenture, Indian cultural forms were met with either contempt or indifference by the Christian majority.[273] Hindus have made many contributions to Trinidad's history and culture even though the state historically regarded Hindus as second class citizens. Hindus in Trinidad struggled over the granting of adult franchise, the Hindu marriage bill, the divorce bill, the cremation ordinance, and other discriminatory laws.[273] After Trinidad's independence from colonial rule, Hindus were marginalised by the African-based People's National Movement. The opposing party, the People's Democratic party, was portrayed as a "Hindu group", and Hindus were castigated as a "recalcitrant and hostile minority".[273] The displacement of PNM from power in 1985 would improve the situation.

Intensified protests over the course of the 1980s led to an improvement in the state's attitudes towards Hindus.[273] The divergence of some of the fundamental aspects of local Hindu culture, the segregation of the Hindu community from Trinidad, and the disinclination to risk erasing the more fundamental aspects of what had been constructed as "Trinidad Hinduism" in which the identity of the group had been rooted, would often generate dissension when certain dimensions of Hindu culture came into contact with the State. While the incongruences continue to generate debate, and often conflict, it is now tempered with growing awareness and consideration on the part of the state to the Hindu minority.[273] Hindus have been also been subjected to persistent proselytisation by Christian missionaries.[274] Specifically the evangelical and Pentecostal Christians. Such activities reflect racial tensions that at times arise between the Christianized Afro-Trinidadian and Hindu Indo-Trinidadian communities.[274]

Fiji Islands

The burnt out remains of Govinda's Restaurant in Suva: over 100 shops and businesses were ransacked in Suva's central business district on 19 May

Hindus in Fiji constitute approximately 38% of the country's population. During the late 1990s there were several riots against Hindus by radical elements in Fiji. In the Spring of 2000, the democratically elected Fijian government led by Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry was held hostage by a guerilla group, headed by George Speight. They were demanding a segregated state exclusively for the native Fijians, thereby legally abolishing any rights the Hindu inhabitants have now. The majority of Fijian land is reserved for the ethnically Fijian community.[275] Since the practitioners of Hindu faith are predominantly Indians, racist attacks by the extremist Fijian Nationalists too often culminated into violence against the institutions of Hinduism. According to official reports, attacks on Hindu institutions increased by 14% compared to 2004. Hindus and Hinduism, being labelled the "outside others," especially in the aftermath of the May 2000 coup, have been victimised by Fijian fundamentalist and nationalists who wish to create a theocratic Christian state in Fiji. This intolerance towards Hindus has found expression in anti-Hindu speeches and destruction of temples, the two most common forms of immediate and direct violence against Hindus. Between 2001 and April 2005, one hundred cases of temple attacks have been registered with the police. The alarming increase of temple destruction has spread fear and intimidation among the Hindu minorities and has hastened immigration to neighbouring Australia and New Zealand. Organised religious institutions, such as the Methodist Church of Fiji, have repeatedly called for the creation of a theocratic Christian State and have propagated anti-Hindu sentiment.[276]

The Methodist Church of Fiji specifically objects to the constitutional protection of minority religious communities such as Hindus and Muslims. State favouritism of Christianity, and systematic attacks on temples, are some of the greatest threats faced by Fijian Hindus. Despite the creation of a human rights commission, the plight of Hindus in Fiji continues to be precarious.[]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Will Durant called the Muslim conquest of India "probably the bloodiest story in history".[8]
  2. ^ Devout Hindus cherish the manifestation of the divine everywhere such as in icons, people, and sacred places.[15] Hinduism is "embedded in its sacred iconography, sacred prosopography and its sacred geography", states Wink, considered an "aid in contemplating the divine".[15] These form the fundamental structure behind Hindu pilgrimage, mythology, festivals, and community just like the other major Indian religions.[15]
  3. ^ The Muslim court historians describe the desecrated sacred cities of Hindus in demeaning terms. For example, they describe Mathura - a sacred city of Krishna tradition in Hinduism - as "the work of demons (jinn)", and refer to the sacred idols as well as their worshippers (Hindus) as "devils" (shayatin).[17] The architecture of Hindu temples underwent change under the Muslim rulers and incorporated Islamic influences. The Vrindavan temples, built under Akbar, lack ornamentation as imagery was generally prohibited.[18]
  4. ^ Some of the evidence of desecration and destruction of Hindu sacred monuments is independent of the Muslim texts of the period. It is found in Islamic monuments built during this period. As examples, the Qutb mosque in Delhi shows its "reliance on disassembled temple materials", as do the Caurasi Kambha mosque near Bharatpur, the Jami Masjid at Sultankot (also called Ukha mandir mosque), the 'idgah in Bayana.[46]
  5. ^ Number of temples destroyed:
    * Avari (2013, p. 115} citing a 2000 study, writes "Aurangzeb was perhaps no more culpable than most of the Sultans before him; they desecrated the temples associated with Hindu power, not all temples. It is worth noting that, in contrast to the traditional claim of hundreds of Hindu temples having been destroyed by Aurangzeb, a recent study suggests a modest figure of just fifteen destructions."
    * Audrey Truschke (2017). Aurangzeb: The Life and Legacy of India's Most Controversial King. Stanford University Press. ISBN 9781503602595., p.85: "Nobody knows the exact number of temples demolished or pillaged on Aurangzeb's orders, and we never will. Richard Eaton, the leading authority on the subject, puts the number of confirmed temple destructions during Aurangzeb's rule at just over a dozen, with fewer tied to the emperor's direct commands. Other scholars have pointed out additional temple demolitions not counted by Eaton, such as two orders to destroy the Somanatha Temple in 1659 and 1706 (the existence of a second order suggests that the first was never carried out). Aurangzeb also oversaw temple desecrations. For example, in 1645 he ordered mihrabs (prayer niches, typically located in mosques) erected in Ahmedabad's Chintamani Parshvanath Temple, built by the Jain merchant Shantidas. Even adding in such events, however, to quote Eaton, "the evidence is almost always fragmentary, incomplete, or even contradictory". Given this, there were probably more temples destroyed under Aurangzeb than we can confirm (perhaps a few dozen in total?), but here we run into a dark curtain drawn across an unknown past."
    In contrast, the historian Abraham Eraly estimates Aurangzeb era destruction to be significantly higher; "in 1670, all temples around Ujjain were destroyed"; and later, "300 temples were destroyed in and around Chitor, Udaipur and Jaipur" among other Hindu temples destroyed elsewhere in campaigns through 1705.[78])
  6. ^ Avari writes, "Aurangzeb's religious policy caused friction between him and the ninth Sikh guru, Tegh Bahadur. In both Punjab and Kashmir the Sikh leader was roused to action by Aurangzeb's excessively zealous Islamic policies. Seized and taken to Delhi, he was called upon by Aurangzeb to embrace Islam and, on refusal, was tortured for five days and then beheaded in November 1675. Two of the ten Sikh gurus thus died as martyrs at the hands of the Mughals.[82]

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