Persecution of Hindus

Persecution of Hindus refers to the religious persecution inflicted upon Hindus.

The persecution of Hindus was carried out through forceful conversions, massacres, demolitions and desecration of temples, destruction of universities and schools, and targeting monks and Brahmins in massacres. Although Hindus managed to maintain their majority in rest of the regions in India, this led to killings of millions of Hindus and a deep social impact on concurrent Hindu customs and rituals.

The most important Hindu power to emerge in the prolonged Islamic rule was the Maratha Empire founded by King Shivaji and expanded by his prime ministers Peshwas (1674 CE - 1818 CE).[1] The Marathas are responsible, to a large extent, for ending persecution of Hindus under Muslim rule[2] and are also considered to have implemented secular policies.

In modern times, Hindus in the Muslim-majority regions of Kashmir, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and other countries have suffered persecution.


Persecution by Muslim Rulers

Muslim conquest of the Indian subcontinent began during the early 8th century AD. According to a 1900 translation of Persian text Chachnamah by Mirza Kalichbeg Fredunbeg, the Umayyad governor of Damascus, Hajjaj responded to a plea by men and women attacked and imprisoned by a tribe off the coast of Debal (Karachi), who had gone there to purchase some Indian female slaves and rich goods.[3] Hajjaj mobilised 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 dependants. The raids attacked the kingdoms ruled by Hindu and Buddhist kings, wealth plundered, tribute (kharaj) settled and hostages taken.[4] Numerous Hindu Jats were captured as prisoners of war by the Muslim army and moved to Iraq and elsewhere as slaves.[5] Hajjaj advocated "spare no one" approach to the military campaign.[6]

Mahmud of Ghazni

Somanatha Temple Prabhas Patan, Gujarat, from the Archaeological Survey of India, taken by D.H. Sykes in c.1869

Mahmud of Ghazni, Sultan of the Ghaznavid empire, invaded the Indian subcontinent during the early 11th century. His campaigns across the Gangetic plains are often cited for their iconoclast plundering and destruction of temples. Mahmud's court historian Al-Utbi viewed Mahmud's expeditions as a jihad to propagate Islam and extirpate idolatry.[7][8][9] Mahmud may not have personally hated Hindus, but he was after the loot and welcomed the honours and accolades in the Islamic world obtained by desecrating Hindu temples and idols.[10] Of his campaign on Mathura, it is written:

Orders were given that all the temples should be burnt with naphthala and fire and levelled with the ground. The city was given up to plunder for twenty days. Among the spoil are said to have been five great idols of pure gold with eyes of rubies and adornments of other precious stones, together with a vast number of smaller silver images, which, when broken up, formed a load for more than a hundred camels.[11]

The loot from Mathura is estimated at 3 million rupees and over 5,000 slaves.[11]

According to military historian Victoria Schofield, Sabuktagin, the Turkish ruler of Ghazni and father of Mahmud, "set as his goal the expulsion of the Hindus from the Kabul valley and Gandhara (Khandar), as the vale of Peshawar was still called. His son and successor, the Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, continued his work, carrying the holy war against the Hindus into India."[12] Till the year 980 CE, this area of Gandhara was under Hindus until Sabuktagin from Ghazni invaded it and displaced its last Hindu Shahi king Jaya Pala.[13] Shahi was an important kingdom in Northwest India at that time. According to some sources (like Ibn Batuta[14]) the name of the Hindu Kush mountains of the region means "Hindu killer"[15][16] because raiders would capture Hindus slaves – all Indians were termed Hindu in Islamic literature – from the plains and take them away to West Asia, with large numbers of boys and girls dying from icy cold weather in these mountains.[17][18][19]

Mahmud of Ghazni sacked the second Somnath Temple in 1026, looted it, and the famous Shiva lingam of the temple was destroyed .[20] Following the defeat of the Rajput Confederacy, after deciding to retaliate for their combined resistance, Mahmud had then set out on regular expeditions against them, leaving the conquered kingdoms in the hands of Hindu vassals annexing only the Punjab region.[21] By 1665, the temple, one of many, was once again ordered destroyed by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.[22]

Mahmud utterly ruined the prosperity of the country, and performed there wonderful exploits, by which the Hindus became like atoms of dust scattered in all directions, and like a tale of old in the mouth of the people.[23]

Alberuni, a historian who accompanied Mahmud of Ghazni, described the conquests in North Western India by stating that Mahmud impoverished the region and that the civilisation of the scattered Hindus declined and retreated from the North West.[24]

This is the reason, too, why Hindu sciences have retired far away from those parts of the country conquered by us, and have fled to places which our hand cannot yet reach, to Kashmir, Benares, and other places.[23]

Delhi Sultanate

Delhi Sultanate, which extended over 320 years (1206-1526 AD), began with raids and invasion by Muhammad of Ghor. The Sultanate witnessed a period of extensive religious violence in various parts of India, at the hands of Sultan's army.[25] The perpetrators were Sunni Muslims, and the primary victims were Hindus, but not exclusively as Buddhists, Jains, Shia and Sufi Muslims were victims as well. Religious violence became state sponsored with the start of Delhi Sultanate and it continued through the Mughal Empire.[25][26]

Historian K. S. Lal has estimated that, between the years 1000 AD and 1500 AD, the population of the Indian subcontinent decreased by 30 million.[27][28][29] 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.[30]

Mohammed Ghori (1173-1206 AD)

Mohammed Ghori raided north India and the Hindu pilgrimage site Varanasi at the end of the 12th century and he continued the destruction of Hindu temples and idols that had begun during the first attack in 1194.[31]

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

Historical records compiled by Muslim historian Maulana Hakim Saiyid Abdul Hai attest to the religious violence during Mamluk dynasty ruler Qutb-ud-din Aybak. The first mosque built in Delhi, the "Quwwat al-Islam" was built with demolished parts of 20 Hindu and Jain temples.[32][33][34] This pattern of iconoclasm was common during his reign.[35]

Khilji dynasty (1290-1320 AD)

Somnath Temple in Gujarat witnessed repeated destruction by Muslim armies in medieval India, followed by repeated reconstruction by Hindus.[36] Construction of new Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples, as well as the repairs of desecrated temples was forbidden during Delhi Sultanate.[37]

Religious violence in India continued during the reign of Jalaluddin Firoz Shah Khilji and Allauddin Khilji of Khilji dynasty.[38][39] Their army commanders such as Ulugh Khan, Nusrat Khan, Khusro Khan and Malik Kafur attacked, killed, looted and enslaved non-Muslim people from West, Central and South India.[40][41] The Khilji dynasty's court historian wrote (abridged),

The (Muslim) army left Delhi in November 1310. After crossing rivers, hills and many depths, the elephants were sent, in order that the inhabitants of Ma'bar might be made aware of the day of resurrection had arrived amongst them; and that all the burnt Hindus would be despatched by the sword to their brothers in hell, so that fire, the improper object of their worship, might mete out proper punishment to them.
Amir Khusrow, Táríkh-i 'Aláí[42]

Riots and mutinies by Hindus erupted in various parts of the Sultanate, ranging from modern Punjab to Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh to Uttar Pradesh. These riots were crushed with mass executions, where all men and even boys above the age of 8 were seized and killed.[43] Nusrat Khan, a general of Allauddin Khilji, retaliated against mutineers by seizing all women and children of the affected area and placing them in prison. In another act, he had the wives of suspects arrested, dishonored and publicly exposed to humiliation. The children were cut into pieces on the heads of their mothers, on the orders of Nusrat Khan.[43]

The campaign of violence, abasement and humiliation was not merely the works of Muslim army, the kazis, muftis and court officials of Allauddin recommended it on religious grounds.[44] Kazi Mughisuddin of Bayánah advised Allauddin to "keep Hindus in subjection, in abasement, as a religious duty, because they are the most inveterate enemies of the Prophet, and because the Prophet has commanded us to slay them, plunder them, and make them captive; saying - convert them to Islam or kill them, enslave them and spoil their wealth and property."[44]

The Muslim army led by Malik Kafur, another general of Allauddin Khilji, pursued two violent campaigns into south India, between 1309 and 1311, against three Hindu kingdoms of Deogiri (Maharashtra), Warangal (Telangana) and Madurai (Tamil Nadu). Thousands were slaughtered. Halebid temple was destroyed. The temples, cities and villages were plundered. The loot from south India was so large, that historians of that era state a thousand camels had to be deployed to carry it to Delhi.[45] In the booty from Warangal was the Koh-i-Noor diamond.[46]

In 1311, Malik Kafur entered the Srirangam temple, massacred the Brahmin priests of the temple who resisted the invasion for three days, plundered the temple treasury and the storehouse and desecrated and destroyed numerous religious icons.[47][48]

Tughlaq Dynasty (1321-1394 AD)

After Khilji dynasty, Tughlaq dynasty assumed power and religious violence continued in its reign. In 1323 Ulugh Khan began new invasions of the Hindu kingdoms of South India. At Srirangam, the invading army desecrated the shrine and killed 12,000 unarmed ascetics. The Vaishnava philosopher Sri Vedanta Desika, hid himself amongst the corpses together with the sole manuscript of the Srutaprakasika, the magnum opus of Sri Sudarsana Suri whose eyes were put out, and also the latter’s two sons.[47][49][50][51]

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.[52] Capture and enslavement was widespread; when Sultan Firuz Shah died, slaves in his service were killed en masse and piled up in a heap.[53] Victims of religious violence included 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. – Tarikh-i Firoz Shahi[52][54]

Under his rule, Hindus who were forced to pay the mandatory Jizya tax were recorded as infidels and their communities monitored. Hindus who erected a deity or built a temple and those who praticised their religion in public such as near a kund (water tank) were arrested, brought to the palace and executed.[52][55] Firuz Shah Tughlaq wrote in his autobiography,

Some Hindus had erected a new idol-temple in the village of Kohana, and the idolaters used to assemble there and perform their idolatrous rites. These people were seized and brought before me. I ordered that the perverse conduct of this wickedness be publicly proclaimed and they should be put to death before the gate of the palace. I also ordered that the infidel books, the idols, and the vessels used in their worship should all be publicly burnt. The others were restrained by threats and punishments, as a warning to all men, that no zimmi could follow such wicked practices in a Musulman country.
– Firuz Shah Tughluq, Futuhat-i Firoz Shahi[56]

Timur's massacre of Delhi (1398 AD)

Main article: Timur

The Turko-Mongol ruler Timur's attack of India was marked by systematic slaughter and other atrocities on a truly massive scale inflicted mainly on the subcontinent's Hindu population.[57] Leaving the Muslim populated areas aside, his army looted rest of the habits. The Hindu population was massacred or enslaved.[58] One hundred thousand Hindus prisoners were killed before he attacked Delhi and many more were killed afterwards.[59][60]

According to Habib and Raychaudhuri, when "Timur invaded India in 1398-99, collection of slaves formed an important object for his army; 100,000 Hindu slaves had been seized by his soldiers and camp followers".[61]

(Timur's) soldiers grew more eager for plunder and destruction. On that Friday night there were about 15,000 men in the city who were engaged from early eve till morning in plundering and burning the houses. In many places the impure infidel gabrs (of Delhi) made resistance. (...) Every soldier obtained more than twenty persons as slaves, and some brought as many as fifty or a hundred men, women and children as slaves of the city. The other plunder and spoils were immense, gems and jewels of all sorts, rubies, diamonds, stuffs and fabrics, vases and vessels of gold and silver. (...) On the 19th of the month Old Delhi was thought of, for many Hindus had fled thither. Amir Shah Malik and Ali Sultan Tawachi, with 500 trusty men, proceeded against them, and falling upon them with the sword despatched them to hell.
– Sharafuddin Yazdi, Zafarnama (ظفرنامه)[62]

Sikandar the Iconoclast (1399-1416 AD)

After Timur left, different Muslim Sultans enforced their power in what used to be Delhi Sultanate. In Kashmir, Sultan Sikandar began expanding, and unleashed religious violence that earned him the name but-shikan or idol-breaker.[63] He earned this sobriquet because of the sheer scale of desecration and destruction of Hindu and Buddhist temples, shrines, ashrams, hermitages and other holy places in what is now known as Kashmir and its neighboring territories. He destroyed vast majority of Hindu and Buddhist temples in his reach in Kashmir region (north and northwest India).[64][65] Encouraged by Islamic theologian, Muhammad Hamadani, Sikandar Butshikan also destroyed ancient Hindu and Buddhist books and banned followers of dharmic religions from prayers, dance, music, consumption of wine and observation of their religious festivals.[66][67] To escape the religious violence during his reign, many Hindus converted to Islam and many left Kashmir. Many were also killed.[66]

Sayyid dynasty (1414-1451 AD)

After the massacres of Timur, the people and lands within Delhi Sultanate were left in a state of anarchy, chaos and pestilence.[68] Sayyid dynasty followed, but few historical records on religious violence, or anything else for that matter, have been found. Those found, including Tarikh-i Mubarak-Shahi describe continued religious violence. Over 1414 through 1423, according to the Muslim historian Yahya bin Ahmad, the Islamic commanders "chastised and plundered the infidels" of Ahar, Khur, Kampila, Gwalior, Seori, Chandawar, Etawa, Sirhind, Bail, Katehr and Rahtors.[69] The violence was not one sided. The Hindus retaliated by forming their own armed groups, and attacking forts seized by Muslims. In 1431, Jalandhar for example, was retaken by Hindus and all Muslims inside the fort were placed in prison. Yahya bin Ahmad, the historian remarked on the arrest of Muslims by Hindus, "the unclean ruthless infidels had no respect for the Musulman religion".[70] The cycle of violence between Hindus and Muslims, in numerous parts of India, continued throughout the Sayyid dynasty according to Yahya bin Ahmad.

Lodi dynasty (1451-1526 AD)

Religious violence and persecution continued during the reign of the two significant Lodi dynasty rulers, Bahlul Khan Lodi and Sikandar Lodi. Delhi Sultanate whose reach had shrunk to northern and eastern India, witnessed burning and killing of Hindus for their religion, in Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.[71] In 1499, a Brahmin of Bengal was arrested because he had attracted a large following among both Muslims and Hindus, with his teachings, "the Mohammedan and Hindu religions were both true, and were but different paths by which God might be approached." Sikandar, with his governor of Bihar Azam Humayun, asked Islamic scholars and sharia experts of their time whether such pluralism and peaceful messages were permissible within the Islamic Sultanate.[72] The scholars advised that it is not, and that the Brahmin should be given the option to either embrace and convert to Islam, or killed. Sikandar accepted the counsel and gave the Brahmin an ultimatum. The Hindu refused to change his view, and was killed.[72]

Elsewhere in Uttar Pradesh, a historian of Lodi dynasty times, described the state sponsored religious violence as follows,[73]

He (Lodi) was so zealous of a Musulman that he utterly destroyed diverse places of worship of the infidels. He entirely ruined the shrines of Mathura, the minefield of heathenism. Their stone images were given to the butchers to use them as meat weights,[74] and all the Hindus in Mathura were strictly prohibited from shaving their heads and beards, and performing ablutions. He stopped the idolatrous rites of the infidels there. Every city thus conformed as he desired to the customs of Islam. – Táríkh-i Dáúdí[75]

Mughal Empire

Babur, Humayun, Suri dynasty (1526-1556)

According to autobiographical historical record of Emperor Babur, Tuzak-i Babari, Babur's campaign in northwest India targeted Hindu and Sikh pagans as well as apostates (non-Sunni sects of Islam), and immense number of infidels were killed, with Muslim camps building "towers of skulls of the infidels" on hillocks.[76] Baburnama, similarly records massacre of Hindu villages and towns by Babur's Muslim army, in addition to numerous deaths of both Hindu and Muslim soldiers in the battlefields.[77]

In 1545, Sher Shah's Mughal army attacked the Hindu fort of Kalinjar, captured it, killing every Hindu infidel inside that fort.[78]

Akbar (1556-1605 AD)

Akbar is known for his religious tolerance. However, in early years of his reign, religious violence included the massacre of Hindus of Garha in 1560 AD, under the command of Mughal Viceroy Asaf Khan.[79][80] Other campaigns targeted Chitor and Rantambhor. Maulana Ahmad, the historian of that era, wrote of the battle at Chitor fort,

They (Hindus) committed jauhar (...). In the night, the (Muslim) assailants forced their way into the fortress in several places, and fell to slaughtering and plundering. At early dawn the Emperor went in mounted on an elephant, attended by his nobles and chiefs on foot. The order was given for a general massacre of the infidels as a punishment. The number exceeded 8,000 (Abu-l Fazl states there were 40,000 peasants with 8,000 Rajputs forming the garrison). Those who escaped the sword, men and women, were made prisoners and their property came into the hands of the Musulmans.
– Maulana Ahmad, Tarikh-i Alfi[81]

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

The fortress of Bhun, which is an idol temple of Mahámáí, was taken by valor of the (Muslim) assailants. A party of Rajputs, who had resolved to die, fought till they were all cut down. A number of Brahmins, who for many years had served the temple, never gave one thought to flight, and were killed. Nearly 200 black cows belonging to the Hindus, during the struggle, had crowded together for shelter in the temple. Some savage Turks, while the arrows and bullets were falling like rain, killed these cows one by one. They then took off their boots and filled them with the blood, and cast it upon the roof and walls of the temple.
– Nizamuddin Ahmad, Tabakat-i Akbari[82]

Jahangir (1605-1627 AD)

Nur-ud-din Mohammad Salim (Jahangir) was the fourth Mughal Emperor under whose reign religious violence was targeted at Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. A companion of Jahangir, and Muslim historian, described the religious violence as,[83] Temple idols were destroyed and by the order of the Emperor, to disgrace the infidels.[83]

Aurangzeb (1658–1707)

The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb's reign saw a scale of religious violence in India that lists as 23rd in 100 deadliest episodes of atrocities in human history.[84]

The reign of Aurangzeb witnessed one of the strongest campaign of religious violence in Mughal Empire's history, with an estimated 4.6 million people killed.[84] Aurangzeb banned Diwali, re-introduced jizya (tax) on non-Muslims,[85] led numerous campaigns of attacks against non-Muslims, destroyed Hindu temples.[86]

Aurangzeb issued orders in 1669, to all his governors of provinces to "destroy with a willing hand the schools and temples of the infidels, and that they were strictly enjoined to put an entire stop to the teaching and practice of idolatrous forms of worship".[87] These orders and his own initiative in implementing them led to the destruction of numerous temples, contributing to the list of temples destroyed during Islamic rule of India.[88][89] Some temples were destroyed entirely; in other cases mosques were built on their foundations, sometimes using the same stones. Idols were smashed, and the city of Mathura was temporarily renamed as Islamabad in local official documents.[87][90]

Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan

According to colonial era British historians, Tipu Sultan persecuted the Hindus and Christians.[91][92][93] C. K. Kareem also notes that Tippu Sultan issued an edict for the destruction of Hindu temples in Kerala.[94] Hindu groups revile Tipu Sultan as a bigot who massacred Hindus.[95] He was known to carry out forced conversions of Hindus and Christians.[92]

Tipu got Runmust Khan, the Nawab of Kurool, to launch a surprise attack upon the Kodava Hindus (also called Coorgs or Coorgis) who were besieged by the invading Muslim army. 500 were killed and over 40,000 Kodavas fled to the woods and concealed themselves in the mountains.[96] Thousands of Kodava Hindus were seized along with the Raja and held captive at Seringapatam (Srirangapatna). They were also subjected to forcible conversions to Islam, death, and torture.[97]

In Seringapatam, the young men who were forcibly circumcised were incorporated into the Ahmedy Corps, and they formed eight Risalas or regiments.[96] The actual number of Kodavas that were captured in the operation is unclear. The British administrator Mark Wilks gives it as 70,000, Historian Lewis Rice arrives at the figure of 85,000, while Mir Kirmani's score for the Coorg campaign is 80,000 men, women and child prisoners.[96] In a letter to Runmust Khan, Tipu himself stated:[98]

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

In 1788, Tipu ordered his governor in Calicut Sher Khan to begin the process of converting Hindus to Islam.[99][100][101]

He also corresponded with the Sringeri Shankaracharya – expressing grief and indignation at a raid by Maratha bandit horsemen (called Pindari), which killed many and plundered the monastery of its valuable possessions,[102] patronised the Melkote temple (which has gold and silver vessels with inscriptions indicating that they were presented under the Sultan), for which a Kannada decree was issued that the Shrivaishnava (Hindu sectary) invocatory verses there should be recited in the traditional form. Tipu Sultan also presented four silver cups to the Lakshmikanta Temple at Kalale[103] and probably presented the Ranganatha temple at Srirangapatana with seven silver cups and a silver camphor burner.[104] Some historians have argued that these acts happened after the Third Mysore war, where he had to negotiate on the terms of surrender. They claim that these acts were motivated by a political desire to get the support of his Hindu subjects.

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.[105]


The Hindu minority in Kashmir has also been historically persecuted by Muslim rulers.[106] 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 Kashmir to be thrown down. Having broken all the images in Kashmeer, (Sikandar) acquired the title of ‘Destroyer of Idols’".[106]

Impact of Islamic conquest on Hindu religion

Medieval invasions on India led to killings of millions of Hindu men and women[27][29] and left a deep impact on social aspects and religions customs of Hindu population.

Until end of first millennium Hindu philosophy and traditions enjoyed a significant amount of flexibility and adaptability.[107] Research and representation of sex (viz. Kama Sutra and Khajuraho) was not a taboo. Debates of different religious and philosophical aspects were organized and cherished. Hindu sciences and research in Yoga, Ayurveda, Spiritual research, Mathematics[108] and Philosophy achieved great heights in this golden age.[109][110]

The invasions, wars, conversions, massacres and destruction of temples and universities led to social insecurity and political instability. With fall of Hindu kings, research of sciences and philosophy faced some setback due to lack of funding, royal support and open environment.[111][112] Many rituals and customs were restricted as a natural reaction of self defense and survival. The religious sects lost facility of debates and exchange of ideas.

Idols in numerous temples were unarmed, temples were desecrated.[113] Several ancient temples that were considered architectural masterpiece of those times were demolished.[114][115] This altered the architecture of the temples in the north and central India. The temples built in this era are found to be smaller, simpler, low cost and at times have adopted some Islamic architectural shapes as well.[116][117]

It is speculated that the flexible varna system that existed in India for centuries, slowly converted into the modern caste system by 15th century. The medieval era Islamic Sultanates in India utilized social stratification to rule and collect tax revenue from non-Muslims. Richard Eaton[118] states that, "Looking at Bengal's Hindu society as a whole, it seems likely that the caste system - far from being the ancient and unchanging essence of Indian civilization as supposed by generations of Orientalists - emerged into something resembling its modern form only in the period 1200-1500".

While Sanskrit language and research on Vedantic philosophy faced a period of struggle,[111][112] vernacular regional languages based on Sanskrit thrived. A lot of Vedantic literature got translated into these languages between 12th to 15th centuries.[119] The new customs that took place of age old rituals were mostly specific to local regions, languages and caste thereby dividing the Hindu community.

Impact on social status of women

The insecurity of women life gave birth to a few cruel traditions in these centuries, which were thought as necessary in those times and discontinued in 18th century, such as johaar in Rajputs in Western India (Burning oneself before husband leaves for war), sati in Eastern India (Burning oneself when husband dies), kesha-wapan[120] in Brahmins of central India (deliberately making oneself look ugly by removing hair after husband's death and not to attract anyone's attention).

During European rule of the Indian subcontinent


Main article: Goa Inquisition
St. Francis Xavier who requested the Inquisition in 1545

The Goa Inquisition, was established in 1560 by Portuguese missionaries in Portuguese India. Aimed primarily at New Christian converts who were thought to have returned to their original Hindu or Islamic faith, it is recorded to have executed 57 apostates until its abolition in 1774.[121]

According to Teotónio de Souza the Hindus faced severe persecution with great fortitude under the Portuguese in Goa.[122] 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 was bad for its victims and led to the downfall of the Portuguese Empire in the East.[122]

In 1620, an order was passed to prohibit the Hindus from performing their marriage rituals.[123] Charles Dellon experienced first hand the cruelty of the Inquisition's agents.[124] He published a book in 1687 describing his experiences in Goa. Relation de l'Inquisition de Goa (The Inquisition of Goa).[124]

British Colonial India

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 Indian Rebellion of 1857.[125]

20th Century 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.

Partition of India

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.[126]

Direct Action Day

In 1946, the Cabinet Mission to India was planning the transfer of power from the British Raj to the Indian leadership. At that time, Jinnah's Muslim League as well as its British patrons, suddenly announced their "decision" to carve out of India a separate and "independent" dominion, with a population to be overwhelmingly Muslim and an explicitly Islamic "national" character, by conjuring up "fear of Hindu domination" among their base as a pretext.

India was conceived of (and continues to remain) a democratic secular republic and so Jinnah's real intentions were transparent- the Indian National Congress rejected their proposal. The Muslim League responded by planning and carrying out a hartal ("general strike") on 16 August 1946 (called Direct Action Day).[127] Upon the request of Suhrawardy, Muslim League Chief Minister of Bengal, the Governor of Bengal Frederick Burrows declared a public holiday that day.[127][128][129] The Congress and the Hindu Mahasabha in Bengal protested to this; they didn't want to be seen as supporting the hartal. They urged the Hindus to instead keep their shops open and to continue their business as usual on that hartal day.[130] On the afternoon of Direct Action Day Suhrawardy and another speaker Nazimuddin addressed a Muslim rally.[127] As soon as many of the listeners left the meeting they were reported to have started violently attacking the Hindus and looting their shops.[127][129] Later Suhrawardy reportedly tried to get British officials to bring the army in but nothing happened until steps towards an army intervention began in the afternoon of 17 August.[127] The Hindus, supported by Sikhs, in the city of Calcutta retaliated.[131][132] All these events are known as the Great Calcutta killings of 1946.[131]

On 17 August the President of a Textile Workers' Union led a hooligan and his mob (all Muslims) into the compound of a Birla owned Kesoram Cotton Mill. The Mill was looted while the workers, including 300 Odia speakers, (their religion is disputed) were massacred.[133][134] Calcutta, within 72 hours, more than 4,000 people lost their lives and 100,000 residents in the city of Calcutta were left homeless.[129][135] Some sources claim that between 7000-10000 people were killed, including both Hindus and Muslims.[136] On 21 August Bengal was brought under the Viceroy's rule.[137] British troops entered the place, and the rioting was reduced by 22 August.[138] This sparked off several riots between Muslims and Hindus in Noakhali, Bihar and Punjab that year. There also occurred communal violence in Delhi, Bombay, Punjab and the Northwest Frontier Province.

Noakhali Riots

Main article: 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.[139][140] Rioting in the region began in the Ramganj police station area by a mob.[141] 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.[141] From 2 October, there were instances of stray killings.[142]

Relief operations took place and Gandhiji visited the place on a peace mission even as threats against the Hindus continued.[143] While claims varied, the official Muslim League Bengal Government estimates of those killed were placed at a conservative 200.[144] According to Suhrawardy 9,895 people were forcibly converted in Tippera alone.[145] Ghulam Sarwar Hossain, a religious leader who belonged to a local political party dominated by Muslims,[146] was the main organiser of the riot.[147] It was said that the local administration had planned the riot and that the police helped Ghulam Sarwar escape arrest.[147] A large number of victims were Namasudra (a Bengali Hindu lower caste).[148] 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.[149] Women were abducted and forced into marriage.[140][149] In retaliation Muslims were massacred in Bihar and in Garhmukteshwara in the United Provinces.[141] 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.[141] The official estimates of the dead at that time were 445.[141]

Hyderabad state

Hindus were severely repressed under the autocratic dictatorial rule of the Nizam and his "nawabs" in Hyderabad state. The Hindu majority were denied fundamental rights by the Nizams of Hyderabad State. Hindus were called gaddaar ("revolutionary", but in a pejorative sense, "traitor") by Muslims in the Nizam state of Hyderabad.[150] Many Hindus were murdered, looted and thrown to jail. Construction of temples were declared illegal and Hindu scriptures like the Bhagavad Gita and Ramayana were banned.[151]

Hindus were treated as second-class citizens within Hyderabad State and were severely discriminated against despite comprising a vast majority of the State's population. 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.[152]

In 1947, the Nizam, under pressure from pro-Pakistan Razakars (who then, after having perpetrated a campaign of terror and violence against Hindu civilians, either promptly surrendered to Indian soldiers or fled to Pakistan) to refuse to accede to India. For the "independence" of their so-called "Islamic state" of Hyderabad and in an attempt to resist Indian integration, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, then the State's dominant political party, persecuted Hindus and their 150,000 cadre strong militant wing, the Razakars, under the leadership of Qasim Rizwi, killed a number of Hindus.[153]


Main article: Hinduism in Pakistan

Hindus constitute 1.7 percent of Pakistan's population.[154][155] 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.[156] In July 2010, around 60 members of the minority Hindus in Karachi were attacked and ethnically cleansed following an incident when a Hindu youth drank from a water tap near an Islamic mosque.[157][158] The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan came out with a report in 2010 stating that at least 25 Hindu girls are abducted in Pakistan every month.[159] In January 2014, in an attack on a temple, the guard was gunned down.[160]

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."[161]

United States government cables noted that Hindus were specific targets of the Pakistani army.[162][163] There was widespread killing of Hindu males, and rapes of women. Documented incidents in which Hindus were massacred in large numbers include the Chuknagar massacre, the Jathibhanga massacre, and the Shankharipara massacre.[164] More than 60% of the Bengali refugees who fled to India were Hindus.[165][166] 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[167][168]

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.[169]

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."[170] 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).

Contemporary persecution

Jammu and Kashmir

The Kashmiri Pandit population living in the Muslim majority region of Jammu and Kashmir has often come under threat from Islamic militants in recent years, 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.[171] 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.[172][173] 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.[174]


In Godhra train burning, which happened on 27 February 2002, 59 people, including 25 women and 15 children Hindu pilgrims were the victims. In 2011, Judicial court convicted 31 people saying the incident was a “pre-planned conspiracy".[175][176][177]

Northeast India

Further information: Christian_terrorism § India

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.[178][179]

In Assam, members of the primarily Christian Hmar ethnic group have placed bloodstained-crosses in temples and forced Hindus to convert at gunpoint.[180]


Main article: Punjab insurgency

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.[181]


On 2 May 2003, eight Hindus were killed by a Muslim mob at Marad beack 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.[182] The commission affirmed "a clear communal conspiracy, with Muslim fundamentalist and terrorist organisations involved".[182] The courts sentenced 62 Muslims to life imprisonment for committing the massacre in 2009.[183]


There have been several instances where Hindu refugees from Bangladesh have stated that they were the victims of torture and intimidation.[184][185][186] A US-based human rights organisation, Refugees International, has claimed that religious minorities, especially Hindus, still face discrimination in Bangladesh.[187]

One of the major political parties in Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, openly calls for 'Talibanisation' of the state.[188][189][190] 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.[188] 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.[191]

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".[192] 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.[192]

On 6 February 2010, Sonargaon temple in Narayanganj district of Bangladesh was destroyed by Islamic fanatics. Five people were seriously injured during the attack.[193] Temples were also attacked and destroyed in 2011[194]

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.[195]

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.[196][197] 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.[198][199] 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.[195] According to community leaders, more than 50 Hindu temples and 1,500 Hindu homes were destroyed in 20 districts.[200]


Pakistan Studies curriculum issues

According to the Sustainable Development Policy Institute report 'Associated with the insistence on the Ideology of Pakistan has been an essential component of hate against India and the Hindus. For the upholders of the Ideology of Pakistan, the existence of Pakistan is defined only in relation to Hindus, and hence the Hindus have to be painted as negatively as possible'[201] A 2005 report by the National Commission for Justice and Peace a non-profit organisation in Pakistan, found that Pakistan Studies textbooks in Pakistan have been used to articulate the hatred that Pakistani policy-makers have attempted to inculcate towards the Hindus. 'Vituperative animosities legitimise military and autocratic rule, nurturing a siege mentality. Pakistan Studies textbooks are an active site to represent India as a hostile neighbour' the report stated. 'The story of Pakistan’s past is intentionally written to be distinct from, and often in direct contrast with, interpretations of history found in India. From the government-issued textbooks, students are taught that Hindus are backward and superstitious.' Further the report stated 'Textbooks reflect intentional obfuscation. Today’s students, citizens of Pakistan and its future leaders are the victims of these partial truths'.[202][203][204][205]

An editorial in Pakistan's oldest newspaper Dawn commenting on a report in The Guardian on Pakistani Textbooks noted 'By propagating concepts such as jihad, the inferiority of non-Muslims, India’s ingrained enmity with Pakistan, etc., the textbook board publications used by all government schools promote a mindset that is bigoted and obscurantist. Since there are more children studying in these schools than in madrassahs the damage done is greater. '[206][207] According to the historian Professor Mubarak Ali, textbook reform in Pakistan began with the introduction of Pakistan Studies and Islamic studies by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1971 into the national curriculum as a compulsory subject. Former military dictator Gen Zia-ul-Haq under a general drive towards Islamization, started the process of historical revisionism in earnest and exploited this initiative. 'The Pakistani establishment taught their children right from the beginning that this state was built on the basis of religion – that's why they don't have tolerance for other religions and want to wipe-out all of them.'.[207][208] Another editorial in Dawn talks about the ideology of thought control in Pakistan and mentions that post these changes, "History was rewritten to redefine Pakistani as an Islamic society, and no research on ancient India, the medieval period or the colonial era. Our history was linked with the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates, thus alienating it from ancient Indian history."[209]

According to Pervez Hoodbhoy, a physics professor at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, the "Islamizing" of Pakistan's schools began in 1976 when an act of parliament required all government and private schools (except those teaching the British O-levels from Grade 9) to follow a curriculum that includes learning outcomes for the federally approved Grade 5 social studies class such as: 'Acknowledge and identify forces that may be working against Pakistan,' 'Make speeches on Jihad,' 'Collect pictures of policemen, soldiers, and national guards,' and 'India's evil designs against Pakistan.'[210]

Forced conversions

Hindu women have also been known to be victims of kidnapping and forced conversion to Islam.[211] An official of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said in 2010 that around 20 to 25 Hindu girls are abducted every month and converted to Islam forcibly.[212] 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.[213]

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.[214]

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.[215] Forced conversion, rape, and forced marriages of Hindu women in Pakistan have recently become very controversial in Pakistan.[216][217]

Temple Destruction

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.[218] In January 2014, a policeman standing guard outside a Hindu temple at Peshawar was gunned down.[160]

Discrimination due to the rise of Taliban

Although Hindus were frequently soft targets in Pakistan,[219][220] 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.[156][221] This has been observed in the past whenever the conflicts between the two nations escalated[222] 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.[223]


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 similar to Adolf Hitler's treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany during World War II.[224][225] 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.[226] 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.[227] 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.[228] 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.[229] In the United States, congressmen and several lawmakers.[229] wore yellow badges on the floor of the Senate during the debate as a demonstration of their solidarity with the Hindu minority in Afghanistan.[230]

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.[230] Since the 1990s many Afghan Hindus have fled the country, seeking asylum in countries such as Germany.[231]

Sri Lanka

Most of the LTTE leaders were captured and gunned down at blank range in May, 2009, after which a genocide of Sri Lankan Tamils in the Northern Province, Sri Lanka has started.[232][233][234] Even a book, The Tamil Genocide by Sri Lanka has been written on this genocide. Tamils Against Genocide hired US attorney Bruce Fein[235] to file human rights violation charges against two Sri Lankan officials associated with the civil war in Sri Lanka which has reportedly claimed the lives of thousands of civilians.[236]


In Italy, Hinduism was previously not recognised 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.[237]

However, on 14 December 2012, Hinduism, along with Buddhism, was recognised and given freedom as a religion not conflicting with the Italian Law, as per Article 8 of the Italian constitution. The move has been hailed as a new milestone for religious freedom and equality between religions.[238]


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."[239]

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.[240]


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.[241] On 21 April 2006, the Malaimel Sri Selva Kaliamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur was reduced to rubble after the city hall sent in bulldozers.[242]

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.[243] 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.[244] 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.[244] According to a lawyer for the Hindu Rights Action Task Force, a Hindu temple is demolished in Malaysia once every three weeks.[245]

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.[246]

Laws in the country, especially those concerning religious identity, are generally slanted towards compulsion into converting to Islam.[247]

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.[248]


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 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.[249] 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.

The Methodist church of Fiji repeatedly calls for the creation of a Christian State since a coup d'état in 1987[249][250] 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 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.

Trinidad & Tobago

During the initial decades of Indian indenture, Indian cultural forms were met with either contempt or indifference by the Christian majority.[251] 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.[251] 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".[251] 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.[251] 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.[251] Hindus have been also been subjected to persistent proselytisation by Christian missionaries.[252] 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.[252]

South Africa

South Africa is home to a small Hindu minority. In 2006, Yusuf Deedat, the son of an Islamic cleric named Ahmed Deedat circulated a DVD that denounced South African Hindus. The elder Deedat, former head of the Arab-funded organization known as "Islamic Propagation Centre International" (IPCI), had previously circulated an anti-Hindu video in the 1980s where he said that Indian Muslims were 'fortunate' that their Hindu forefathers 'saw the light' and converted to Islam when Muslim rulers dominated some areas of India. His video was widely criticised. While Hindus in South Africa have largely ignored the new anti-Hindu DVD circulated by the younger Deedat, he has been severely criticised by local Muslims, including other members of the IPCI.The IPCI said in a statement that Yusuf Deedat did not represent the organisation in any way. The younger Deedat, undeterred by the opposition from his own brethren, continues to circulate the material.He has placed advertisements in newspapers inviting anyone to collect a free copy from his residence to see for themselves "what the controversy is about".[253]

United States

See also: Dotbusters

Hindu immigrants constitute approximately 0.5% of the total population of the United States. They are also the second most affluent religious group after the Jews. Hindus in the US enjoy both de jure and de facto legal equality. However, a series of attacks were made on people Indian origin by a street gang called the "Dotbusters" in New Jersey in 1987, the dot signifying the Bindi dot sticker worn on the forehead by Indian women.[254] The lackadaisical attitude of the local 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. On 2 January 2012, a Hindu worship center in New York City was firebombed.[255]

The Dotbusters was a hate group in Jersey City, New Jersey, that attacked and threatened South Asians in the fall of 1987. The name originated from the fact that traditional Hindu women and girls wear a bindi on their forehead.[256]

In December 1987, Kaushal Saran, was found beaten to a coma 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.[257] 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.[258]

The Dotbusters were primarily based in New York and New Jersey and committed most of their crimes in Jersey City. A number of perpetrators have been brought to trial for these assaults. 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.[259]

See also


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