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Persecution of Hindus refers to the religious persecution inflicted upon Hindus. Hindus have been historically persecuted during Islamic rule of the Indian subcontinent and during the Goa Inquisition. In modern times, Hindus in the Muslim-majority regions of Kashmir, Pakistan and Bangladesh have also suffered persecution.

Contents

During Islamic rule of the Indian sub-continent

The Muslim conquest of the Indian subcontinent led to widespread carnage because Muslims regarded the Hindus as infidels and therefore slaughtered and converted millions of Hindus. Will Durant argued in his 1935 book "The Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage" (page 459):

The Mohammedan conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. The Islamic historians and scholars have recorded with great glee and pride the slaughters of Hindus, forced conversions, abduction of Hindu women and children to slave markets and the destruction of temples carried out by the warriors of Islam during 800 AD to 1700 AD. Millions of Hindus were converted to Islam by sword during this period.

There is no official estimate of the total death toll of Hindus at the hands of Muslims.

As Braudel put it: "The levies it had to pay were so crushing that one catastrophic harvest was enough to unleash famines and epidemics capable of killing a million people at a time. Appalling poverty was the constant counterpart of the conquerors' opulence."

The backward castes of Hinduism suffered worst. Monarchs (belonging to backward castes) such as Khusrau Bhangi Khan, Hemchandra and Garha-Katanga were knocked off their throne and executed. Backward caste saints like Namadeva[1] were arrested, while women like Kanhopatra were forced to commit suicide. Ghisadis have an “Urdu” title.[2]

Prof. K.S. Lal, suggests a calculation in his book Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India which estimates that between the years 1000 AD and 1500 AD the population of Hindus decreased by 80 million. Even those Hindus who converted to Islam were not immune from persecution, which was illustrated by the Muslim Caste System in India as established by Ziauddin al-Barani in the Fatawa-i Jahandari.[3] where they were regarded as "Ajlaf" caste and subjected to severe discrimination by the "Ashraf" castes.[4]

By Arabs

Muslim conquest of the Indian subcontinent began during the early 8th century, when the Umayyad governor of Damascus, Hajjaj responded to a casus belli provided by the kidnapping of Muslim women and treasures by pirates off the coast of Debal,[5] by mobilizing an expedition of 6,000 cavalry under Muhammad bin-Qasim in 712 CE. Records from the campaign recorded in the Chach Nama record temple demolitions, and mass executions of resisting Sindhi forces and the enslavement of their dependents. This action was particularly extensive in Debal, of which Qasim is reported to have been under orders to make an example of while freeing both the captured women and the prisoners of a previous failed expedition. Bin Qasim then enlisted the support of the local Jat, Meds and Bhutto tribes and began the process of subduing and conquering the countryside. The capture of towns was also usually accomplished by means of a treaty with a party from among his "enemy", who were then extended special privileges and material rewards.[6] However, his superior Hajjaj reportedly objected to his method by saying that it would make him look weak and advocated a more hardline military strategy:[7]

It appears from your letter that all the rules made by you for the comfort and convenience of your men are strictly in accordance with religious law. But the way of granting pardon prescribed by the law is different from the one adopted by you, for you go on giving pardon to everybody, high or low, without any discretion between a friend and a foe. The great God says in the Koran [47.4]: "0 True believers, when you encounter the unbelievers, strike off their heads." The above command of the Great God is a great command and must be respected and followed. You should not be so fond of showing mercy, as to nullify the virtue of the act. Henceforth grant pardon to no one of the enemy and spare none of them, or else all will consider you a weak-minded man.

In a subsequent communication, Hajjaj reiterated that all able-bodied men were to be killed, and that their underage sons and daughters were to be imprisoned and retained as hostages. Qasim obeyed, and on his arrival at the town of Brahminabad massacred between 6,000 and 16,000 of the defending forces.[8] The historian, Upendra Thakur records the persecution of Hindus and Buddhists:

When Muhammad Kasim invaded Sind in 711 AD, Buddhism had no resistance to offer to their fire and steel. The rosary could not be a match for the sword and the terms Love and Peace had no meaning to them. They carried fire and sword wherever they went and obliterated all that came their way. Muhammad triumphantly marched into the country, conquering Debal, Sehwan, Nerun, Brahmanadabad, Alor and Multan one after the other in quick succession, and in less than a year and a half, the far-flung Hindu kingdom was crushed, the great civilization fell back and Sind entered the darkest period of its history. There was a fearful outbreak of religious bigotry in several places and temples were wantonly desecrated. At Debal, the Nairun and Aror temples were demolished and converted into mosques.[Resistors] were put to death and women made captives. The Jizya was exacted with special care.[Hindus] were required to feed Muslim travellers for three days and three nights.[9]

Other historians and archaeologists such as J E Lohuizen-de Leeuw, take the following stance regarding events preceding the sack of Debal:

In fact, we have clear evidence that the Arabs were very tolerant towards both Buddhists and Hindus during the rest of the campaign and throughout the time they ruled Sind...Of course that does not mean that no monuments were ever destroyed, for war always means a certain amount of damage to buildings but it does prove that there was no wanton and systematic destruction of each and every religious center of the Buddhists and Hindus in Sind.[10]

Mahmud of Ghazni

Mahmud of Ghazni was an Afghan Sultan who invaded the Indian subcontinent during the early 11th century. His campaigns across the gangetic plains are often cited for their iconoclastic plundering and destruction of temples such as those at Mathura and he looked upon their destruction as an act of "jihad".[11]

Pradyumna Prasad Karan further describes Mahmud's invasion as one in which he put "thousands of Hindus to the sword" and made a pastime of "raising pyramids of the skulls of the Hindus".[12][13] Holt et al. hold an opposing view, that he was "no mere robber or bloody thirsty tyrant" . Mahmud shed no blood "except in the exegencies of war",[14] and was tolerant in dealings with his own Hindu subjects, some of whom rose to high posts in his administration, such as his Hindu General Tilak[14]

Mahmud of Ghazni sacked the second Somnath Temple in 1026, and looted it of gems and precious stones and the famous Shiva lingam of the temple was destroyed .[15] Later the temple was demolished by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1706.[16]

Muhammad Ghori

Muhammad Ghori committed genocide against Hindus at Kol (modern Aligarh), Kalinjar and Varanasi, according to Hasan Nizami's Taj-ul-Maasir, 20,000 Hindu prisoners were slaughtered and their heads offered to crows.[17]

Timur the Lame's Campaign against India

Tīmūr bin Taraghay Barlas (Chagatai Turkic: تیمور - Tēmōr, "iron") (1336 – February 1405), known in the West as Tamerlane, was a 14th century warlord of Turco-Mongol descent,[18][19][20][21] conqueror of much of western and central Asia, and founder of the Timurid Empire and Timurid dynasty (1370–1405) in Central Asia, which survived in some form until 1857. Perhaps, he is more commonly known by his pejorative Persian name Timur-e Lang (Persian: تیمور لنگ) which translates to Timur the Lame, as he was lame after sustaining an injury to the leg in battle.

Informed about civil war in India, Timur began a trek starting in 1397 to invade the territory of the reigning Sultan Nasir-u Din Mehmud of the Tughlaq Dynasty in the north Indian city of Delhi.

Timur crossed the Indus River at Attock on September 24. The capture of towns and villages was often followed by the massacre of their inhabitants and the raping of their women, as well as pillaging to support his massive army. Timur wrote many times in his memoirs of his specific disdain for the 'idolatrous' Hindus, although he also waged war against Muslim Indians during his campaign.

Timur's invasion did not go unopposed and he did meet some resistance during his march to Delhi, most notably by the Sarv Khap coalition in northern India, and the Governor of Meerut. Although impressed and momentarily stalled by the valour of Ilyaas Awan, Timur was able to continue his relentless approach to Delhi, arriving in 1398 to combat the armies of Sultan Mehmud, already weakened by an internal battle for ascension within the royal family.

The Sultan's army was easily defeated on December 17, 1398. Timur entered Delhi and the city was sacked, destroyed, and left in ruins. Before the battle for Delhi, Timur executed more than 100,000 captives.

Timur himself recorded the invasions in his memoirs, collectively known as Tuzk-i-Timuri.[22] In them, he vividly described the massacre at Delhi:

In a short space of time all the people in the [Delhi] fort were put to the sword, and in the course of one hour the heads of 10,000 infidels were cut off. The sword of Islam was washed in the blood of the infidels, and all the goods and effects, the treasure and the grain which for many a long year had been stored in the fort became the spoil of my soldiers. They set fire to the houses and reduced them to ashes, and they razed the buildings and the fort to the ground....All these infidel Hindus were slain, their women and children, and their property and goods became the spoil of the victors. I proclaimed throughout the camp that every man who had infidel prisoners should put them to death, and whoever neglected to do so should himself be executed and his property given to the informer. When this order became known to the ghazis of Islam, they drew their swords and put their prisoners to death.

One hundred thousand infidels, impious idolators, were on that day slain. Maulana Nasiruddin Umar, a counselor and man of learning, who, in all his life, had never killed a sparrow, now, in execution of my order, slew with his sword fifteen idolatrous Hindus, who were his captives....on the great day of battle these 100,000 prisoners could not be left with the baggage, and that it would be entirely opposed to the rules of war to set these idolaters and enemies of Islam at liberty...no other course remained but that of making them all food for the sword.[23]

According to Malfuzat-i-Timuri,[22] Timur targeted Hindus. In his own words, "Excepting the quarter of the saiyids, the 'ulama and the other Musalmans [sic], the whole city was sacked". In his descriptions of the Loni massacre he wrote, "..Next day I gave orders that the Musalman prisoners should be separated and saved."

During the ransacking of Delhi, almost all inhabitants not killed were captured and enslaved.

Timur left Delhi in approximately January 1399. In April he had returned to his own capital beyond the Oxus (Amu Darya). Immense quantities of spoils were taken from India. According to Ruy Gonzáles de Clavijo, 90 captured elephants were employed merely to carry precious stones looted from his conquest, so as to erect a mosque at Samarkand — what historians today believe is the enormous Bibi-Khanym Mosque. Ironically, the mosque was constructed too quickly and suffered greatly from disrepair within a few decades of its construction.

Qutb-ud-din Aibak

Historical records compiled by Muslim historian Maulana Hakim Saiyid Abdul Hai attest to the iconoclasm of Qutb-ud-din Aybak. The first mosque built in Delhi, the "Quwwat al-Islam" was built after the demolition of the Hindu temple built previously by Prithvi Raj and certain parts of the temple were left outside the mosque proper.[24] This pattern of iconoclasm was common during his reign, although an argument goes that such iconoclasm was motivated more by politics than by religion.[25]

Iltutmish

Another ruler of the sultanate, Shams-ud-din Iltutmish, conquered and subjugated the Hindu pilgrimage site Varanasi in the 11th century and he continued the destruction of Hindu temples and idols that had begun during the first attack in 1194.[26]

Firuz Shah Tughlaq

Firuz Shah Tughluq was the third ruler of the Tughlaq dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate. The "Tarikh-i-Firuz Shah" is a historical record written during his reign that attests to the systematic persecution of Hindus under his rule.[27] In particular, it records atrocities committed against Hindu Brahmin priests who refused to convert to Islam:

An order was accordingly given to the Brahman and was brought before Sultan. The true faith was declared to the Brahman and the right course pointed out. but he refused to accept it. A pile was risen on which the Kaffir with his hands and legs tied was thrown into and the wooden tablet on the top. The pile was lit at two places his head and his feet. The fire first reached him in the feet and drew from him a cry and then fire completely enveloped him. Behold Sultan for his strict adherence to law and rectitude.[27]

Under his rule, Hindus who were forced to pay the mandatory Jizya tax were recorded as infidels, their communities monitored and, if they violated Imperial ordinances and built temples, they were destroyed. In particular, an incident in the village of Gohana in Haryana was recorded in the "Insha-i-Mahry" (another historical record written by Amud Din Abdullah bin Mahru) where Hindus had erected a deity and were arrested, brought to the palace and executed en-masse.[27]

In 1230, the Hindu King of Orissa Anangabhima III consolidated his rule and proclaimed that an attack on Orissa constituted an attack on the king's god. A sign of Anangabhima's determination to protect Hindu culture is the fact that he named is new capital in Cuttack “Abhinava Varanasi.” His anxieties about further Muslim advances in Orissa proved to be well founded.

In the Mughal empire

The Mughal Empire was marked by periods of tolerance of non-Muslims, such as Hindus, Christians and Sikhs, as well as periods of violent oppression and persecution of those people.[28] The reign of Aurangzeb was particularly brutal. No aspect of Aurangzeb's reign is more cited - or more controversial - than the numerous desecrations and even the destruction of Hindu temples.[28] Aurangzeb banned Diwali, placed a jizya (tax) on non-Muslims and martyred the ninth Sikh guru Tegh Bahadur.[28]

During his reign, tens of thousands of temples were desecrated: their facades and interiors were defaced and their murtis (divine images) looted.[28] In many cases, temples were destroyed entirely; in numerous instances mosques were built on their foundations, sometimes using the same stones. Among the temples Aurangzeb destroyed were two that are most sacred to Hindus, in Varanasi and Mathura.[29] In both cases, he had large mosques built on the sites.[28]

The Kesava Deo temple in Mathura, marked the place that Hindus believe was the birth place of Shri Krishna.[29] In 1661 Aurangzeb ordered the demolition of the temple, and constructed the Katra Masjid mosque. Traces of the ancient Hindu temple can be seen from the back of the mosque. Aurangzeb also destroyed what was the most famous temple in Varanasi- the Vishwanath Temple.[29] The temple had changed its location over the years, but in 1585 Akbar had authorized its location at Gyan Vapi. Aurangzeb ordered its demolition in 1669 and constructed a mosque on the site, whose minarets stand 71 metres above the Ganges. Traces of the old temple can be seen behind the mosque. Centuries later, emotional debate about these wanton acts of cultural desecration continues. Aurangzeb also destroyed the Somnath temple in 1706.[29]

Hindu nationalists claim that Mughals destroyed the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, located at the birthplace of Rama, and built the Babri Masjid on the holy site, which has since been a source of tension between the Hindu and Muslim communities.

Writer Fernand Braudel wrote in A History of Civilizations (Penguin 1988/1963, p. 232-236), Islamic rule in India as a "colonial experiment" was "extremely violent", and "the Muslims could not rule the country except by systematic terror. Cruelty was the norm – burnings, summary executions, crucifixions or impalements, inventive tortures. Hindu temples were destroyed to make way for mosques. On occasion there were forced conversions. If ever there were an uprising, it was instantly and savagely repressed: houses were burned, the countryside was laid waste, men were slaughtered and women were taken as slaves."

Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan

The attitudes of Muslim ruler Tippu Sultan have been criticized as anti-Hindu. While some Marxist historians claim that he had an egalitarian attitude towards Hindus and was harsh towards them only when politically expedient,[30] In the first part of his reign in particular he appears to have been notably more aggressive and religiously doctrinaire than his father, Haidar Ali.[31] There are some historians[32] who claim that Tippu Sultan was a religious persecutor of Hindus.

C. K. Kareem also notes that Tippu Sultan issued an edict for the destruction of Hindu temples in Kerala.[33]

Historian Hayavadana C. Rao wrote about Tippu in his encyclopaedic work on the History of Mysore. He asserted that Tippu's "religious fanaticism and the excesses committed in the name of religion, both in Mysore and in the provinces, stand condemned for all time. His bigotry, indeed, was so great that it precluded all ideas of toleration". He further asserts that the acts of Tippu that were constructive towards Hindus were largely political and ostentatious rather than an indication of genuine tolerance.[34]

Hindu groups revile Tipu Sultan as a bigot who massacred Hindus.[35] He was known to carry out forced conversions of Hindus and Christians.[36]. According to Ramchandra Rao "Punganuri" Tipu converted 500 Hindus in Kodagu (Coorg).[37]

In Kashmir

The Hindu minority in Kashmir has also been historically persecuted by Muslim rulers.[38] While Hindus and Muslims lived in harmony for certain periods of time, several Muslim rulers of Kashmir were intolerant of other religions. Sultãn Sikandar Butshikan of Kashmir (AD 1389-1413) is often considered the worst of these. Historians have recorded many of his atrocities. The Tarikh-i-Firishta records that Sikandar persecuted the Hindus and issued orders proscribing the residency of any other than Muslims in Kashmir. He also ordered the breaking of all "golden and silver images". The Tarikh-i-Firishta further states: "Many of the Brahmins, rather than abandon their religion or their country, poisoned themselves; some emigrated from their native homes, while a few escaped the evil of banishment by becoming Mahomedans. After the emigration of the Bramins, Sikundur ordered all the temples in Kashmeer to be thrown down. Having broken all the images in Kashmeer, (Sikandar) acquired the title of ‘Destroyer of Idols’".[38] The 2000 Amarnath pilgrimage massacre was another incident where 30 Hindu pilgrims were killed on route to Amarnath temple[39].

The Kingdom of Champa

Before the conquest of Champa by the Vietnamese king Lê Thánh Tông in 1471, the dominant religion of the Cham people was Hinduism, and the culture was heavily influenced by that of India. Between the 11th and 18th centuries, the Vietnamese expanded southward in a process known as nam tiến (southward expansion).[40] In 1471 the kingdom of Champa suffered a massive defeat by the Vietnamese, in which 120,000 Cham people were either captured or killed, and the kingdom was reduced to a small enclave near Nha Trang, which survived until 1720.[41] With the kingdom of Champa mostly destroyed and the Cham people exiled or suppressed, Vietnamese colonization of what is now central Vietnam proceeded without substantial resistance.[42]

During European rule of the Indian subcontinent

The Goa Inquisition, was established in 1560 by Portuguese missionaries. It was aimed primarily at Hindus and wayward new converts and by the time it was suppressed in 1774, the inquisition had had thousands of Hindus tortured and executed by burning. The British East India Company engaged in a covert and well-financed campaign of evangelical conversions in the 19th century. While officially discouraging conversions, officers of the Company routinely converted Sepoys to Christianity, often by force. This was one of the factors that led to the First Indian War of Independence.[43]

During the era of Nizam state of Hyderabad

Hindus were severely repressed under the autocratic dictatorial rule of the Nizam nawabs in Hyderabad state. The Hindu majority were denied fundamental rights by the Nizams of Hyderabad state. Hindus were called gaddaar (traitor) by Muslims in the Nizam state of Hyderabad.[44]

Hindus were treated as second class citizens within Hyderabad state and they were severely discriminated against, despite the vast majority of the population being Hindu. The 1941 census estimated the population of Hyderabad to be 16.34 million. Over 85% of the populace were Hindus with Muslims accounting for about 12%. Hyderabad was also a multi-lingual state consisting of peoples speaking Telugu (48.2%), Marathi (26.4%), Kannada (12.3%) and Urdu (10.3%). Nonetheless, the number of Hindus in government positions was disproportionately small. Of 1765 officers, 1268 were Muslims, 421 were Hindus, and 121 were "Others" (presumably British Christians, Parsis and Sikhs). Of the officials drawing pay between Rs.600-1200 pm, 59 were Muslims, 38 were "Others", and a mere 5 were Hindus. The Nizam and his nobles, who were mostly Muslims, owned 40% of the total land in the kingdom.[citation needed]

Contemporary persecution

While the vast majority of Hindus live in Hindu-majority areas of India, Hindus in other parts of South Asia and in the diaspora have sometimes faced persecution.

In the Indian subcontinent

Before the partition, there was large scale violence against Hindus during the first Partition of Bengal. Thousands of Hindus were killed in Muslim dominated portions of Bengal (which geographically also included the present day states of Bihar and Orrisa). Close after that arrived Khilafat movement spear headed by Ali brothers in which Hindus of central India and the province of Bombay(which included the present day Gujrat and Maharashtra in it) were killed, maimed and massacred. The Moplaah rebellion in Kerala got encouragement due to Gandhi ji's suport to Khilafat movement. Again, the victims in the so called rebellion against the British government's inaction against Mustafa Kamal in far away Turkey were Hindu women, men and children who were raped, killed and orphaned in thousands.

Hindus, like 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.[45]

Republic of India

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Related events since 2001

Although the Indian government allows for freedom of religion, its constitution provides lesser rights and protection to Hindus vs. non-Hindus paving way for government confiscation of Hindu institutes and places of worship. More-over, Minority institutes also receive government patronage in form of Exemption from 2005 Amendment to the Article 15, 95% grant-in-aid, College Scholarship to pursue higher education.[46][47][48][49]

What makes matters worse is that ruling political parties often subscribe to ideologies which are inherently hostile or prejudiced towards Hinduism. Thus, Hindu temples and institutes live under constant threat of ideologically motivated government take-over and subsequent destruction. For instance, State of Tamil Nadu is ruled by Dravidian parties for over two decades. Dravidian ideology believes in discredited racial theory of Aryan Invasion. It is openly anti Shri Ram, anti Sanskrit and anti Brahmin. Ruling ideology has a history of publicly issuing threats and has carried out those threats in many instances.[50][51][52]. At some junctures, interpretation of the laws has also disadvantaged Hindus[53]

Many organizations feel that Hindu label is a liability. It exposes them to ideologically inspired attacks, places them at a financial disadvantage and paves way for government confiscation. As a result, several entities like Rama-Krishna Mission, Arya Samaj, etc. have filed law-suits and done intense lobbying to declare them self a non-Hindu minority religion. For Instance, in west Bengal, Rama Krishna Mission whose colleges and schools were in danger of hostile take-over by Marxist government petitioned the courts to have their organization and movement declared a non-Hindu minority religion.[47][48][49][54]

Hindus from other countries hoping to come to India have also been treated unfavorably by the Indian government[55]

Recently the issue of Love Jihad created huge controversy in Southern India, although similar incidents were ignored in Northern India.

Jammu and Kashmir

Kashmiri militants have engaged in attacks on Hindu pilgrims in both Kashmir and neighboring Jammu. Kashmiri militants have attacked Hindus in the region, as well as moderate Muslims suspected of siding with India. Kashmiri Pandit Hindus, who have been residents of Kashmir for centuries, have been ethnically cleansed from Kashmir by Islamic militants.[56][57] In particular, the Wandhama Massacre in 1998 was an incident in which 24 Kashmiri Hindus were gunned down by Islamists disguised as Indian soldiers. Many Kashmiri Hindus have been killed and thousands of children orphaned over the course of the conflict in Kashmir.

Kerala

The Moplah Riots in 1921 where Muslims in Kerala, influenced by the Khilafat movement rioted in rebellion against British Raj and Hindu Jenmis, resulted in thousands of Hindu deaths and a number of forcible conversions. Parts of Kerala such as Ernad and Walluvanad were declared as Khilafat kingdoms by groups of Muslim mobs and flags of the Islamic Caliphate were flown.[58] Annie Besant stated in her book: "They Moplahs murdered and plundered abundantly, and killed or drove away all Hindus who would not apostatise. Somewhere about a lakh (100,000) of people were driven from their homes with nothing but their clothes they had on, stripped of everything...Malabar has taught us what Islamic rule still means, and we do not want to see another specimen of the Khilafat Raj in India."[59]

Northeast India

In Northeastern India, especially in Nagaland, Hindus are not able to celebrate Durga Puja and other essential festivals due to harassment and killing by Christian terrorist groups. In Tripura,[60] the NLFT, "National Liberation Front of Tripura", has targeted Swamis and temples for attacks. The Baptist Church of Tripura is alleged to have supplied the NLFT with arms and financial support and to have encouraged the murder of Hindus, particularly infants.[61]

In Assam, members of the primarily Christian Hmar ethnic group have placed bloodstained crosses in temples and forced Hindus to convert at gunpoint[62].

Punjab

The period of insurgency in Punjab around Operation Bluestar 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.[63]

Bangladesh

The HAF report documents the long history of anti-Hindu atrocities in Bangladesh, a topic that many Indians and Indian governments over the years have preferred not to acknowledge. Such atrocities, including targeted attacks against temples, open theft of Hindu property, and rape of young Hindu women and enticements to convert to Islam, have increased sharply in recent years after the Jamat-e-Islami joined the coalition government led by the Bangladesh National Party.

Bangladesh has had a troublesome history of persecution of Hindus as well. A US-based human rights organisation, Refugees International, has claimed that religious minorities, especially Hindus, still face discrimination in Bangladesh.[64] The government of Bangladesh, a nationalist party openly calls for ‘Talibanisation’ of the state.[65][66][67] 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 is real, the country is not on the brink of being Talibanized.[65] In 1971 at the time of the liberation of Bangladesh from East Pakistan, the Hindu population accounted for 15% of the total population. Thirty years on, it is now estimated at just 10.5%.[68] The ‘Vested Property Act’ previously named the ‘Enemy Property Act’ has seen up to 40% of Hindu land snatched away forcibly. Since this government has come into power, of all the rape crimes registered in Bangladesh, 98% have been registered by Hindu women. Hindu temples in Bangladesh have also been vandalised.[69][70] The United States Congressional Caucus on India has condemned these atrocities.[71]

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 destruction 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".The previous reports of the Hindu American Foundation were acknowledged and confirmed by this non-partisan report.[72]

On November 2, 2006, USCIRF criticized 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.[72]

On the February 6, 2010, Sonargaon temple in Narayanganj district of Bangladesh was destroyed by Islamic fanatics. Five people were seriously injured during the attack.[73]

Pakistan

There are a number of instances of persecution of Hindus in Pakistan. In 1951, Hindus constituted 22 percentage of the Pakistani population;[74][75] by 1998 the share of Hindus were down to around 1.7 percentage[76]. This huge drop is due to wide forcible conversion and murder of those who resisted it, a situation that is recorded to have continued till date. Minority members of the Pakistan National Assembly have alleged that Hindus were being hounded and humiliated to force them to leave Pakistan.[77]

1971 Bangladesh atrocities

During the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities there were widespread killings and acts of ethnic cleansing of civilians in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan under Pakistani occupation), and widespread violations of human rights were carried out by the Pakistan Army, which was supported by political and religious militias during the Bangladesh Liberation War. In Bangladesh, the atrocities are identified as a genocide. Many of the victims were Hindus, and the total death toll was in the millions.[78][79]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."[80]

Forced Conversions

Hindu women have also been known to be victims of kidnapping and forced conversion to Islam.[81] 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.[82]

On October 18, 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.[83]

Temple Destruction

Several Hindu temples have been destroyed in Pakistan. A notable incident was the destruction of the Ramna Kali Mandir in former East Pakistan. The temple was bulldozed by the Pakistan Army on March 27, 1971.The Dhakeshwari Temple was severely damaged during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, and over half of the temple's buildings were destroyed. In a major disrespect of the religion, the main worship hall was taken over by the Pakistan Army and used as an ammunitions storage area. Several of the temple custodians were tortured and killed by the Army though most, including the Head Priest, fled first to their ancestral villages and then to India and therefore escaped death.

In 2006, the last Hindu temple in Lahore was destroyed to pave the way for construction of a multi-storied commercial building. The temple was demolished after officials of the Evacuee Property Trust Board concealed facts from the board chairman about the nature of the 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.[84]

Several political parties in Pakistan have objected to this move, such as the Pakistan People's party and the Pakistani Muslim League-N.[85][86] The move has also evoked strong condemnation in India from minority bodies and political parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress Party, as well as Muslim advocacy political parties such as the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat.[87] A firm of lawyers representing the Hindu minority has approached the Lahore High Court seeking a directive to the builders to stop the construction of the commercial plaza and reconstruct the temple at the site. The petitioners maintain that the demolition violates section 295 of the Pakistan Penal Code prohibiting the demolition of places of worship.[88]

2005 unrest in Nowshera

On June 29, 2005, following the arrest of an illiterate Christian janitor on allegations of allegedly burning Qur'an pages, a mob of between 300 and 500 Muslims destroyed a Hindu temple and houses belonging to Christian and Hindu families in Nowshera. Under the terms of a deal negotiated between Islamic religious leaders and the Hindu/Christian communities, Pakistani police later released all previously arrested perpetrators without charge.[83]

Discrimination due to the rise of Taliban

Although Hindus were frequently soft targets in Pakistan [89][90], 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.[91][92] This has been observed in the past whenever the conflicts between the two nations escalated[93] 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 lures, as well as the cooperation of zealots within local authorities to perpetrate religious cleansing.[94]

In other countries

Afghanistan

During the Taliban regime, Sumptuary laws were passed in 2001 which forced Hindus to wear yellow badges in public to identify themselves as such. This has been compared to Adolf Hitler's treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany during World War II.[95][96] 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.[97] In addition, Hindus were forced to mark their places of residence identifying them as Hindu homes.

The decree was condemned by the Indian and United States governments as a violation of religious freedom.[98] Widespread protests against the Taliban regime broke out in Bhopal,India. In the United States, chairman of the Anti-Defamation League Abraham Foxman compared the decree to the practices of Nazi Germany, where Jews were required to wear labels identifying them as such.[99] 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.[100] In the United States, congressmen and several lawmakers.[100] wore yellow badges on the floor of the Senate during the debate as a demonstration of their solidarity with the Hindu minority in Afghanistan.[101]

Indian analyst Rahul Banerjee said that this was not the first time that Hindus have been singled out for state-sponsored oppression in Afghanistan. Violence against Hindus has caused a rapid depletion in the Hindu population over the years.[101] Since the 1990s many Afghan Hindus have fled the country, seeking asylum in countries such as Germany.[102]

Bhutan

In 1991-92, Bhutan expelled roughly 100,000 ethnic Nepalis (Lhotshampa), most of whom have been living in seven refugee camps in eastern Nepal ever since. The Lhotshampa are generally classified as Hindus.[103] In March 2008, this population began a multiyear resettlement to third countries including the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Australia.[104] At present, the United States is working towards resettling more than 60,000 of these refugees in the US as third country settlement programme.[105]

Italy

In Italy, Hinduism is not recognized as a religion, and during Durga Puja celebrations, the Italian police shut down a previously approved Durga Puja celebration in Rome. The affront was seen by some as a statement against alleged persecution of Christians in India[106].

Kazakhstan

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

On November 20, 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."[107]

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.[108]

Malaysia

Approximately nine percent of the population of Malaysia are Tamil Indians, of whom nearly 90 percent are practicing 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.[109] On April 21, 2006, the Malaimel Sri Selva Kaliamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur was reduced to rubble after the city hall sent in bulldozers.[110]

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.[111] On May 11, 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.[112] 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.[112] According to a lawyer for the Hindu Rights Action Task Force, a Hindu temple is demolished in Malaysia once every three weeks.[113].

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[114].

Laws in the country, especially those concerning religious identity, are generally slanted towards compulsion into converting to Islam[115]

Saudi Arabia

On March 24, 2005, Saudi authorities destroyed religious items found in a raid on a makeshift Hindu shrine found in an apartment in Riyadh.[116]

Fiji

Hindus in Fiji constitute approximately 38% of the 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.[117] 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 labeled the “outside others,” especially in the aftermath of the May 2000 coup, have been victimized by Fijian fundamentalist and nationalists who wish to create a theocratic Christian state in Fiji. This intolerance of 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 neighboring Australia and New Zealand. organized 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[118].

The Methodist church of Fiji repeatedly calls for the creation of a Christian State since a coup d'etat in 1987[117][119] and has stated that those who are not Christian should be "tolerated as long as they obey Christian law".

The Methodist Church of Fiji specifically objects to the constitutional protection of minority religious communities such as Hindus and Muslims. State favoritism 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[120].

Trinidad

During the initial decades of Indian indenture, Indian cultural forms were met with either contempt or indifference by the Christian majority.[121] Hindus have made many contributions to Trinidad 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, cremation ordinance, and others.[121] After Trinidad's independence from colonial rule, Hindus were marginalized 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".[121] 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.[121] 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.[121] Hindus have been also been subjected to persistent proselytization by Christian missionaries[122]. 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[122].

United States of America

Hindu immigrants, constitute approximately 0.5% of the total population. They are also the second most affluent religious group after the Jews. Hindus in USA enjoy both de jure and de facto legal equality. However, it is widely acknowledged that the Hindu community in USA became more politically active after a series of attacks by a street gang called the "Dotbusters" in the New Jersey area in the year 1987.[123].The lackadaisical attitude of the Police, prompted the South Asian community to arrange small groups all across the state to fight back against the street gang. The perpetrators, have been put to trial.

The Christian organization Operation Save America organized protests against the reading of a Hindu prayer in the US Senate.[124].The organization later confirmed that Ante Pavkovic, Kathy Pavkovic, and Kristen Sugar were arrested from the chambers "as that chamber was violated by a false Hindu God." Right wing Historian David Barton justified the protests on the grounds that the prayers were "polytheistic" and contrary to the beliefs of the Founding Fathers of America.[125]

See also

Other religions:

Notes

  1. ^ P. 88 The Rosary and the Lamp By Baburao Patel
  2. ^ The Castes and Tribes of H.E.H. the Nizam's Dominions
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  9. ^ Sindhi Culture by U.T. Thakkur, Univ. of Bombay Publications, 1959
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  13. ^ Barron, Milton (1967). Minorities in a Changing World. Knopf p54. 
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  16. ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somnath
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  53. ^ National Song, National Anthem and more – II News Today - January 19, 2010
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