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Religious Intolerance

Muslim-Hindu religious intolerance in India

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Examples of Hindu-Muslim violence:

  • 1992: Some Hindus burned down a 16th century mosque in the northern Indian town of Ayodhya. Their plan was to build a Hindu temple on the site, which is sacred to followers of both religions. This action has resulted in the occasional outburst of rioting:

  • 1993: Hindu-Muslim riots in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) caused the deaths of 800 people.

  • 2002-FEB-26: 58 people died during a fire on board a train in the western state of  Gujarat. Most of the victims were Hindu pilgrims. Initially, Muslims were blamed for attacking the train and setting it on fire. However, subsequent evidence has shown that the fire was the result of an accident.

    Belief that Muslims were responsible for the carnage motivated some Hindus to retaliate. Within five days, 499 people had been killed -- mostly Muslims. Many were burned to death. According to the New York Times, during the week of 2002-APR-22:

    "... more than 40 people have perished in the continuing violence, in the western state of Gujarat. The official death toll in the last two months has risen to 900. More than 100,000 people, mostly Muslims, are estimated to have fled to relief camps. On Tuesday, [2002-APR-30] Parliament will debate whether the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party -- which has led a national coalition government for most of the last four years and controls the state of Gujarat, its last major state stronghold -- has been complicit in the carnage. ..."

    "Indian officials were particularly stung by the leak of a confidential assessment by British diplomats who estimated the death toll at 2,000, more than twice the official tally, and said the anti-Muslim violence had been planned and carried out with the state government's support."

    Many Muslim victims have testified:
    "that the mobs were led by people from the Bharatiya Janata Party and other organizations in its Hindu nationalist family, particularly the World Hindu Congress and its youth wing, the Bajrang Dal."1
  • 2002-SEP-24: Radical fundamentalist Muslim extremists attacked the Swaminarayan temple. This Hindu temple is located on a 23 acre complex in Gandhinagar, the state capital of the Indian state of Gujarat. This temple is particularly popular to Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Christians alike, because it houses scriptures of all of the major world religions in its Hall of Harmony. It is a well-known cultural center visited by over two million people each year. By selecting this temple for attack, among all of the Hindu temples in India, the radical Muslim terrorists might have been aiming a blow against the concept of religious tolerance, rather than simply hoping to kill Hindus at prayer. Two extremists invaded the temple and murdered people indiscriminately. The total death toll was about 30, including the two terrorists, one Indian commando who died in the counterattack, and four chldren. Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, his deputy Lal Krishnan Advani and opposition leader Sonia Gandhi quickly visited the temple together stressing the need for religious harmony and the avoidance of revenge attacks against Indian Muslims. The Hindu fundamentalist World Hindu Council has called for a state-wide strike. 2


  1. "Discord Over Killing of India Muslims Deepens," New York Times, 2002-APR-29 at:
  2. Sanjeev Srivastava, "Eyewitness: Gujarat's nightmare," 2002-SEP-26, at:

Copyright 1998 to 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2008-SEP-14
Author: B.A. Robinson

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