Anti-Muslim violence in India has occurred periodically since the country’s partition in 1947, frequently in the form of mob attacks on Muslims by Hindus. Such attacks, often referred to as “communal riots” in India, are part of a pattern of sporadic sectarian violence between the Hindu and Muslim communities, which has been connected to a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment throughout the 20th century Most incidents have occurred in the northern and western states of India, whereas communalist sentiment in the south is less pronounced. Among the largest incidents were Bihar in 1946, Nellie in 1983 and Gujarat in 2002.
According to political scientists, organizations with roots in Hindu nationalism have played a large part in these incidents of anti-Muslim violence, and in generating anti-Muslim sentiment. In particular, organizations associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, such as the Bharatiya Janata Party, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal are all considered by scholars to have a central role in the violence. The BJP, and its predecessor the Jana Sangh, have used these communal riots and anti-Muslim propaganda as a part of a larger political strategy. These incidents of violence against Muslims have marred India’s post independence history with a spill-over effect on India’s cause in the Kashmir conflict.
Hindu right-wing politicians will often legitimize instances of mass violence against Muslims as a natural reaction to actions perpetrated by Muslims in the past and the present. However, these patterns of violence have been well-established since partition, with dozens of studies documenting instances of mass violence against minority groups. Over 10,000 people have been killed in Hindu-Muslim communal violence since 1950. According to official figures, there were 6,933 instances of communal violence between 1954 and 1982 and, between 1968 and 1980, there were 530 Hindus and 1,598 Muslims killed in a total of 3,949 instances of mass violence.
The following are the highlights of the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill, which the government said will be tabled during the winter session of parliament.
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