Persecution of Hindus
|Freedom of religion|
Persecution of Hindus refers to the religious persecution inflicted upon Hindus. In modern times, Hindus in the Muslim-majority regions of Kashmir, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and others have also suffered persecution.
- 1 Medieval
- 1.1 Persecution by Muslim Rulers
- 1.2 During European rule of the Indian subcontinent
- 2 20th Century persecution
- 3 Contemporary persecution
- 3.1 Bhutan
- 3.2 India
- 3.3 Bangladesh
- 3.4 Pakistan
- 3.5 Afghanistan
- 3.6 Sri Lanka
- 3.7 Italy
- 3.8 Kazakhstan
- 3.9 Malaysia
- 3.10 Saudi Arabia
- 3.11 Fiji
- 3.12 Trinidad & Tobago
- 3.13 South Africa
- 3.14 United States
- 4 See also
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Persecution by Muslim Rulers
Muslim conquest of the Indian subcontinent began during the early 8th century AD, 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, by mobilising 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. 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. 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, saying "Henceforth grant pardon to no one of the enemy and spare none of them, or else all will consider you a weak-minded man."
Following these early instances of persecution, Bin Qasim is said to have been liberal in his religious policy. Nearly 60 percent of the Arab success in Sind was secured through treaty rather than conquest. Hindus and Buddhists were treated as dhimmi (protected people) and left free to practise their faith other than the obligation to pay jizya (tax on non-Muslims). Historian Mohammad Habib has said, "Alone among the many Muslim invaders of India Muhammad Qasim is a character of whom a conscientious Mussalman need not be ashamed." Bin Qasim's policies were followed by the later Arab governments and Sindh prospered through the new Islamic networks of trade and commerce.
Mahmud of Ghazni
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. 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. 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.
The loot from Mathura is estimated at 3 million rupees and over 5,000 slaves.
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." 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. Shahi was an important kingdom in Northwest India at that time. According to some sources (like Ibn Batuta) the name of the Hindu Kush mountains of the region means "Hindu kill"[dubious ] probably because raiders would capture Hindu slaves from the plains and take them away but they would die of cold in the mountains.
Mahmud of Ghazni sacked the second Somnath Temple in 1026, looted it, and the famous Shiva lingam of the temple was destroyed . 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. By 1665, the temple, one of many, was once again ordered destroyed by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
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.
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.
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.
Holt et al. hold an opposing view, that he was "no mere robber or bloody thirsty tyrant" . Mahmud shed no blood "except in the exigencies of war", 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
Timur's campaign against 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. He crossed the Indus River at Attock on 24 September. 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'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 17 December 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.
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, so as to erect a mosque at Samarkand, which 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.
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. Even a pious saint had gathered together fifteen slaves. Regrettably, all had to be slaughtered before the attack on Delhi for fear that they might rebel. But after the occupation of Delhi the inhabitants were brought out and distributed as slaves among Timur's nobles, the captives including several thousand artisans and professional people.
Firuz Shah Tughlaq
Firuz Shah Tughlaq 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. 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.
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.
In 1230, the Hindu King of Odisha Anangabhima III consolidated his rule and proclaimed that an attack on Odisha 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 Odisha proved to be well founded.
In the Mughal empire
The Kesava Deo temple in Mathura, marked the place that Hindus believe was the birthplace of Shri Krishna. 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. The temple had changed its location over the years, but in 1585 Akbar had authorised 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. In addition, during the reign of Aurangzeb, the Sikh guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, aided the Kashmiri Pandits in avoiding conversion to Islam and was arrested by Aurangzeb. When offered a choice between conversion to Islam and death, he chose to die rather than compromise his principles and was executed.
More recently, the Hindus have claimed 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. Following an archaeological survey, the Allahabad High Court ruled in 2010 that the Babri Masjid stood on the site of an earlier structure of a "non-Islamic character" and divided the 2,400 square feet (220 m2) disputed land between three parties: the Ramlalla (infant Ram) for the construction of a temple, Sunni Wakf Board for a mosque and the Nirmohi Akhara for Sita ki Rasoi and Ram Chabutara.
Writer Fernand Braudel wrote in A History of Civilizations, 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
There are historians who state 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. Hindu groups revile Tipu Sultan as a bigot who massacred Hindus. He was known to carry out forced conversions of Hindus and Christians.
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. 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.[full citation needed]
In Seringapatam, the young men who were forcibly circumcised were incorporated into the Ahmedy Corps, and they formed eight Risalas or regiments. 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. In a letter to Runmust Khan, Tipu himself stated:[full citation needed]
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, and in July of that year, 200 Brahmins were forcibly converted and made to eat beef. Mohibbul Hasan, Prof. Sheikh Ali, and other historians cast great doubt on the scale of the deportations and forced conversions in Coorg in particular, and Hasan says that the British versions of what happened were intended to malign Tipu Sultan, and to be used as propaganda against him. He argues that little reliance can be placed in Muslim accounts such as Kirmani's Nishan-e Haidari; in their anxiety to represent the Sultan as a champion of Islam, they had a tendency to exaggerate and distort the facts: Kirmani claims that 70,000 Coorgis were converted, when forty years later the entire population of Coorg was still less than that number. According to Ramchandra Rao Punganuri the true number of converts was about 500.
Tipu sent a letter on 19 January 1790 to the Governor of Bekal, Budruz Zuman Khan. It says:
Don't you know I have achieved a great victory recently in Malabar and over four lakh Hindus were converted to Islam? I am determined to march against that cursed Raman Nair (Rajah of Travancore) very soon. Since I am overjoyed at the prospect of converting him and his subjects to Islam, I have happily abandoned the idea of going back to Srirangapatanam now.
The following is a translation of an inscription on the stone found at Seringapatam, which was situated in a conspicuous place in the fort:
Oh Almighty God! dispose the whole body of infidels! Scatter their tribe, cause their feet to stagger! Overthrow their councils, change their state, destroy their very root! Cause death to be near them, cut off from them the means of sustenance! Shorten their days! Be their bodies the constant object of their cares (i.e., infest them with diseases), deprive their eyes of sight, make black their faces (i.e., bring shame).
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, 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 and probably presented the Ranganatha temple at Srirangapatana with seven silver cups and a silver camphor burner. 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.
The Hindu minority in Kashmir has also been historically persecuted by Muslim rulers. 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’".
During European rule of the Indian subcontinent
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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.
According to Teotónio de Souza the Hindus faced severe persecution with great fortitude under the Portuguese in Goa. 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.
In 1620, an order was passed to prohibit the Hindus from performing their marriage rituals. Charles Dellon experienced first hand the cruelty of the Inquisition's agents. He published a book in 1687 describing his experiences in Goa. L'Inquisition de Goa (The Inquisition of Goa).
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.[not in citation given]
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.
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). Upon the request of Suhrawardy, Muslim League Chief Minister of Bengal, the Governor of Bengal Frederick Burrows declared a public holiday that day. 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. On the afternoon of Direct Action Day Suhrawardy and another speaker Nazimuddin addressed a Muslim rally. As soon as many of the listeners left the meeting they were reported to have started violently attacking the Hindus and looting their shops. 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. The Hindus, supported by Sikhs, in the city of Calcutta retaliated. All these events are known as the Great Calcutta killings of 1946.
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. Calcutta, within 72 hours, more than 4,000 people lost their lives and 100,000 residents in the city of Calcutta were left homeless. Some sources claim that between 7000-10000 people were killed, including both Hindus and Muslims. On 21 August Bengal was brought under the Viceroy's rule. British troops entered the place, and the rioting was reduced by 22 August. 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.
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. Rioting in the region began in the Ramganj police station area by a mob. 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. From 2 October, there were instances of stray killings.
Relief operations took place and Gandhiji visited the place on a peace mission even as threats against the Hindus continued. While claims varied, the official Muslim League Bengal Government estimates of those killed were placed at a conservative 200. According to Suhrawardy 9,895 people were forcibly converted in Tippera alone. Ghulam Sarwar Hossain, a religious leader who belonged to a local political party dominated by Muslims, was the main organiser of the riot. It was said that the local administration had planned the riot and that the police helped Ghulam Sarwar escape arrest. A large number of victims were Namasudra (a Bengali Hindu Lower caste). 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. Women were abducted and forced into marriage. In retaliation Muslims were massacred in Bihar and in Garhmukteshwara in the United Provinces. 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. The official estimates of the dead at that time were 445.
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.[unreliable source?] 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.
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.[not in citation given]
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.
There were 8.8 million Hindus in Pakistan in 1951. In 1951, Hindus constituted 22% of the Pakistani population (including present-day Bangladesh); Today, the Hindu minority amounts to 1.7 percent of Pakistan's population. 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. 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. 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. In January 2014, in an attack on a temple, the guard was gunned down.
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."
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." 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).
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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, though many practice Buddhism, traditional animism and Christianity  In March 2008, this population began a multiyear resettlement to third countries including the US, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Australia. At present, the United States is working towards resettling more than 60,000 of these refugees in the US as third country settlement programme.
There have been instances in India where Hindu temples have been damaged by miscreants. The leaders of some political parties have spoken out against what they see as superstitious or barbarous practices followed by certain groups of Hindus.
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. 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. 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.
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".
In Northeastern India, especially in Nagaland, Hindus are not able to celebrate Durga Puja and other religious festivals due to harassment and killing by Christian terrorist groups. In Tripura, the NLFT(National Liberation Front of Tripura), has targeted Swamis and temples for attacks. They are known to have forcefully converted Hindus to Christianity.
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.
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. The commission affirmed "a clear communal conspiracy, with Muslim fundamentalist and terrorist organisations involved". The courts sentenced 62 Muslims to life imprisonment for committing the massacre in 2009.
There have been several instances where Hindu refugees from Bangladesh have stated that they were the victims of torture and intimidation. A US-based human rights organisation, Refugees International, has claimed that religious minorities, especially Hindus, still face discrimination in Bangladesh.
One of the major political parties in Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, openly calls for 'Talibanisation' of the state. 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. 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.
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". 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.
On 6 February 2010, Sonargaon temple in Narayanganj district of Bangladesh was destroyed by Islamic fanatics. Five people were seriously injured during the attack. Temples were also attacked and destroyed in 2011
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.
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. 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. 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. According to community leaders, more than 50 Hindu temples and 1,500 Hindu homes were destroyed in 20 districts.
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' 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'.
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. ' 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.'. 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."
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.'
Hindu women have also been known to be victims of kidnapping and forced conversion to Islam. 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. 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.
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.
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. Forced conversion, rape, and forced marriages of Hindu women in Pakistan have recently become very controversial in Pakistan.
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. In January 2014, a policeman standing guard outside a Hindu temple at Peshawar was gunned down.
Discrimination due to the rise of Taliban
Although Hindus were frequently soft targets in Pakistan, 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. This has been observed in the past whenever the conflicts between the two nations escalated 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.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. In the United States, congressmen and several lawmakers. wore yellow badges on the floor of the Senate during the debate as a demonstration of their solidarity with the Hindu minority in Afghanistan.
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. Since the 1990s many Afghan Hindus have fled the country, seeking asylum in countries such as Germany.
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. Even a book, The Tamil Genocide by Sri Lanka has been written on this genocide. Tamils Against Genocide hired US attorney Bruce Fein 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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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. On 21 April 2006, the Malaimel Sri Selva Kaliamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur was reduced to rubble after the city hall sent in bulldozers.
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. 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. 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. According to a lawyer for the Hindu Rights Action Task Force, a Hindu temple is demolished in Malaysia once every three weeks.
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.
Laws in the country, especially those concerning religious identity, are generally slanted towards compulsion into converting to Islam.
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. 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 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 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 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. 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. 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". 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. 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. Hindus have been also been subjected to persistent proselytisation by Christian missionaries. 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.
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".
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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Religious persecution.|
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