Persecution of Hindus

Hindus have experienced religious persecution in the form of forceful conversions, documented massacres, demolition and desecrations of temples, as well as the destruction of universities and schools. In modern times, Hindus in the Muslim-majority regions of Kashmir, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and other countries have suffered persecution.

Medieval 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.[1] 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 dependents. The raids attacked the kingdoms ruled by Hindu and Buddhist kings, wealth plundered, tribute (kharaj) settled and hostages taken.[2] Numerous Hindu Jats were captured as prisoners of war by the Muslim army and moved to Iraq and elsewhere as slaves.[3]

Parts of India have historically been subject to Islamic rule from the period of Muhammad bin Qasim to the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire, as well as smaller kingdoms like the Bahmani Sultanate and Tipu Sultan's kingdom of Mysore. After the conquest of Sindh, Qasim chose the Hanafi school of Islamic law which that when under Muslim rule, polytheists such as Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains are to be regarded as dhimmis (from the Arab term) as well as "People of the Book" and are required to pay jizya for religious freedom. This decision proved crucial into the way which Muslim rulers ruled in India for the next 800 years.[6]

Historian K. S. Lal in his book Theory and Practice of Muslim State in India claims that between the years 1000 AD and 1500 AD, the population of the Indian subcontinent decreased from 200 to 170 million.[7] In Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India meanwhile he claimed that it fell from 200 million to 120 million by establishment of the Mughal empire because of killings, deportations, dissemination, wars, and famines.[7] He stated that his estimates were tentative and did not claim any finality.[8] [9][10] These population estimates, however, have been questioned by Simon Digby[11] and Irfan Habib.[12] Will Durant calls the Muslim conquest of India "probably the bloodiest story in history".[13] During this period, Buddhism declined rapidly while Hinduism faced military-led and Sultanates-sponsored religious violence.[13] 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.[14]

The destruction of temples and educational institutions, the killings of learned monks and the scattering of students, led to a widespread decline in Hindu education. With the fall of Hindu kings, science research and philosophy faced some setbacks due to a lack of funding, royal support, and an open environment. Despite unfavourable treatment under the Muslim rule, Brahmanical education continued and was also patronised by rulers like Akbar and others. Bukka Raya I, one of the founders of Vijaynagar Empire, had taken steps to rehabilitate Hindu religious and cultural institutions which suffered a serious setback under Muslim rule. Buddhists centres of learning decayed, leading to the rise to prominence of Brahmanical institutions.[15][16] Idols in numerous temples were unarmed, temples were desecrated.[17] Most of the great temples in North India were destroyed and no great temples were built under Muslim rulers except the Vrindavan temples under Akbar which lack ornamentation as imagery was generally prohibited.[18] The architecture of Hindu temples underwent change under the Muslim rulers and incorporated Islamic influences.[19]

While Sanskrit language and research on Vedantic philosophy faced a period of struggle, with Muslim rulers often targeting well-established and well-known educational institutions that were often suffering at the time, the traditional educational institutions in villages continued as before,[15][16] vernacular regional languages based on Sanskrit thrived. A lot of Vedantic literature got translated into these languages between 12th to 15th centuries.[20]

Mahmud of Ghazni

Somnath temple in ruins, 1869
Front view of the present Somnath Temple
The Somnath temple was first attacked by Muslim Turkic invader Mahmud of Ghazni and repeatedly demolished by successive Muslim invaders, each time being rebuilt by Hindu rulers.

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.[21][22][23] 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.[24] 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.[25]

The loot from Mathura is estimated at 3 million rupees and over 5,000 slaves.[25]

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 so called, "holy war" against the Hindus into India."[26] 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.[27] Hindu Shahi was an important kingdom in Northwest India at that time. According to some sources (like Ibn Batuta[28]) the name of the Hindu Kush mountains of the region means "Hindu killer"[29][30] because raiders would capture Hindu 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.[31][32][33]

Mahmud of Ghazni sacked the second Somnath Temple in 1026, looted it, and the famous Shiva lingam of the temple was destroyed .[34] 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.[35] By 1665, the temple, one of many, was once again ordered destroyed by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.[36]

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.[37]

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.[38]

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.[37]

Delhi Sultanate

Delhi Sultanate, which extended over 320 years (1206-1526 AD), began with raids and invasion by Muhammad of Ghor. Recurrent clashes between Hindus and Muslims appear in the historical record during the Delhi Sultanate.[39] 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.[14]

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.[40]

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.[41][42][43] This pattern of iconoclasm was common during his reign.[44]

Khalji dynasty (1290-1320 AD)

Religious violence in India continued during the reign of Jalaluddin Firoz Shah Khalji and Allauddin Khalji of Khalji dynasty.[45][46] 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.[47][48] The Khalji 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[49]

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.[50] 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."[50]

The Muslim army led by Malik Kafur 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.[51] In the booty from Warangal was the Koh-i-Noor diamond.[52]

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.[53][54]

Madurai Sultanate (1335–1378)

Moroccan traveler Ibn Batuta describes the cruel behavior of the Madurai sultan Ghiyas-ud-Din Muhammad Damghani, in his memoirs. His army routinely rounded local Hindu villagers and impaling and decapitated them, indiscriminately with women and children being included.[55][56] The Vijayanagar princess Gangadevi also describes the atrocities of the Madurai Sultanate towards women and children.[57]

Tughlaq Dynasty (1321-1394)

After Khalji 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.[53][58][59][60]

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.[61] Capture and enslavement was widespread; when Sultan Firuz Shah died, slaves in his service were killed en masse and piled up in a heap.[62] 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[61][63]

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.[61][64] 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[65]

Timur invasion of India (1398-1399)

The Turko-Mongol ruler Timur's attack on India was marked by systematic slaughter and other atrocities on a truly massive scale which were inflicted mainly on the subcontinent's Hindu population.[66] Leaving the Muslim populated areas aside, his army looted rest of the habits. The Hindu population was massacred or enslaved.[67] One hundred thousand Hindus prisoners were killed by his army before he attacked Delhi for fear of rebellion and many more were killed afterwards.[68][69][70]

After the sack of Bhatner fort during the Timurid conquests of India in 1398, Timur attacked and sacked the important cities like Sirsa, Fatehabad, Sunam, Kaithal and Panipat. When he reached near the town of Sarsuti from the fort of Firozah and Bhatner, the residents who were mostly non-Muslims fled and were chased by a detachment of Timur's troops, with thousands of them being killed as well as looted by the troops. From there he traveled to Fatehabad, whose residents fled and a large number of those remaining in the town were massacred. The Ahirs resisted him at Ahruni but were defeated, with thousands being killed and many were taken prisoners while the town was burnt to ashes. From there he traveled to Tohana. Sharaf ad-Din Ali Yazdi said the inhabitants of that town were robbers. They tried to resist but were defeated and fled. Timur's army pursued and killed 200 Jats, while taking many more as prisoners. He then sent a detachment to chase the fleeing Jats and killed 2,000 of them. Meanwhile, their wives and children were enslaved and their property plundered. From there he proceeded to Kaithal; the residents were massacred and plundered and all the villages along the way were destroyed. On the next day, he reached Assandh which was deserted. Afterward, he subdued Tughlaqpur's fort and the town of Salwan before besieging Loni's fort and ultimately marching on Delhi.[71][72]

According to Habib and Raychaudhuri, when "Timur invaded India in 1398-99, the collection of slaves formed [as] an important object for his army; 100,000 Hindu slaves had been seized by his soldiers and camp followers". All of them were killed to avoid a rebellion before the attack on Delhi.[70]

(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)[73]

Sikandar the Iconoclast (1399-1416)

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.[74] 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 the vast majority of Hindu and Buddhist temples within his reach in the Kashmir region (north and northwest India).[75][76] 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.[77][78] To escape the religious violence during his reign, many Hindus converted to Islam and many left Kashmir. Many were also killed.[77]

Sayyid dynasty (1414-1451)

After the massacres of Timur, the people and lands within Delhi Sultanate were left in a state of anarchy, chaos and pestilence.[79] The 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.[80] 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".[81] The cycle of violence between Hindus and Muslims, in numerous parts of India, continued throughout the Sayyid dynasty according to Yahya bin Ahmad.

Lodhi dynasty (1451-1526)

Religious violence and persecution continued during the reign of the two significant Lodhi dynasty rulers, Bahlul Khan Lodhi and Sikandar Lodhi. The Delhi Sultanate, whose reach had shrunk to northern and eastern India, witnessed the burning and killing of Hindus for their religion, in Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.[82] In 1499, a Brahmin of Bengal was arrested because he had attracted a large following among both Muslims and Hindus with the following teaching: "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.[83] The scholars advised that it is not, and that the Brahmin should be given the option to either embrace and convert to Islam, or be killed. Sikandar accepted the counsel and gave the Brahmin an ultimatum. The Hindu refused to change his view and was killed.[83]

Elsewhere in Uttar Pradesh, a historian of Lodhi dynasty times, described the state sponsored religious violence as follows,[84]

He [Lodi] was so zealous...[as a Musulman] that he utterly destroyed diverse places of [infidel] worship... he entirely ruined the shrines of Mathura, [and] the minefield of heathenism. Their stone images were given to the butchers to meat weights,[85] and all the Hindus in Mathura were strictly prohibited from shaving their heads and beards, and from 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[86]

Mughal Empire

Babur, Humayun, Suri dynasty (1526-1556)

According to the autobiographical historical record of Emperor Babur, Tuzak-i Babari, Babur's campaign in northwest India targeted Hindu and Sikh civilians as well as non-Sunni sects of Islam. Immense numbers of people were killed, with the Muslim camps being described as building "towers of skulls of the infidels" on hillocks.[87] 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.[88]

Under Sher Shah Suri

In 1545, Sher Shah Suri's army attacked the Hindu fort of Kalinjar ruled by Kirat Singh. During the attack, Per Tarikh-i-Sher Shahi Suri was burnt in an explosion and ordered his nobles to take the fort while he was still alive. His forces captured the fort by afternoon and per the account put "everyone in there to the sword".[89]

Akbar (1556-1605)

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.[90][91] 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[92]

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[93]

Aurangzeb (1658–1707)

The reign of Aurangzeb witnessed one of the strongest campaigns of religious violence in the Mughal Empire's history. Aurangzeb re-introduced jizya (tax) on non-Muslims,[94] led numerous campaigns of attacks against non-Muslims, forcibly converted Hindus to Islam and destroyed Hindu temples.[95][97][98] However, he also built many temples.[99] Scholars like Ram Puniyani states that Aurangzeb was not always fanatically anti-Hindu, and kept changing his policies depending on the needs of the situation. He banned the construction of new temples, but permitted the repair and maintenance of existing temples. He also made generous donations of jagirs to several temples to win the sympathies of his Hindu subjects. There are several firmans (orders) in his name, supporting temples and gurudwaras, including Mahakaleshwar temple of Ujjain, Balaji temple of Chitrakoot, Umananda Temple of Guwahati and the Shatrunjaya Jain temples.[100]

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".[101] 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.[102][103] Some temples were destroyed entirely; in other cases mosques were built on their foundations, sometimes using the same stones. Idols in temples were smashed, and the city of Mathura was temporarily renamed as Islamabad in local official documents.[101][104]

An estimated of 4.6 million people were killed under his reign.[105][106] White estimates that about 2.5 million of Aurangzeb's army were killed during the Mughal–Maratha Wars (100,000 annually during a quarter-century), while 2 million civilians in war-torn lands died due to drought, plague and famine.[107] It is also noted that most soldiers and civilians died because of the famine and plague than battles.[108]

Tipu Sultan

Tipu Sultan persecuted the Hindus, Christians and Mappla Muslims,[109] and carried out forced conversions of Hindus and Christians.[110][111][112][113][111][114] According to C. K. Kareem, Tippu Sultan issued an edict for the destruction of Hindu temples in Kerala.[115] The portrayal of Tipu Sultan as a religious bigot has been also disputed by some sources suggesting that he in fact often embraced religious pluralism.[116][117][118][117][117][119]

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.[120] In Seringapatam, the young men were reported to be forcibly circumcised and incorporated into the Ahmedy Corps, and they formed eight Risalas or regiments.[120] 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.[121] 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.[120] In a letter to Runmust Khan, Tipu himself stated:[122]

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.[123]

In 1788, Tipu reportedly ordered his governor in Calicut Sher Khan to begin the process of converting Hindus to Islam.[124][125][126]

The archaeological survey of India has listed three temples which were destroyed during the reign of Tipu Sultan. These were the Harihareshwar Temple at Harihar which was converted into a mosque, the Varahswami Temple in Srirangapatnam and the Odakaraya Temple in Hospet.[127]

The following is a translation of an inscription on the stone found at Seringapatam, which was situated in a conspicuous place in the fort:[128]

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).

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.[124] 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.[117] 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.[125]


The Hindu minority in Kashmir has also been historically persecuted by Muslim rulers.[129] 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'".[129]

Several ancient temples in Kashmir that were considered architectural masterpiece of those times were demolished during this period.[130]


Richard Eaton states that the origin of the caste system of modern form in the Bengal region of India may be traceable to the period of 1200-1500. This is after the Turkic conquests. He 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 during the period 1200-1500". Before the Turkish conquest, the Sena dynasty kept order by distributing wealth and judging between the socially higher or lower in the context of the court and its rituals. However, with the collapse of the Hindu kingship that followed the Turkic conquest, these functions appear to have been displaced onto the society, with social order being maintained through enforced group endogamy, marriage regulation enforced through caste councils and specialists kept the genealogies.[131] The advent of Indo-Turkish rule resulted in the end with patronage for the Brahmins who had enjoyed it under the Sena government and many of them fled into the eastern hinterlands. Until 1415, they served few positions in the government and were disdained. However, this changed with Raja Ganesha's revolution and under the reign of his converted son Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah, resulting in many of them gaining employment in the government by the time of Alauddin Husain Shah.[131]

Deccan wars

Muhammad Shah I's draft on Vijayanagara Empire's treasury in 1365 incensed the king king Bukka Raya I, who insulted the envoy with the draft and besieged the fort of Mudgal held by no less than 800 Muslim troops. Many men, women and children were killed. The fortress fell and its garrison was massacred before any relief could reach it. Ferishta's claim of only one survivor narrating the incident to the Sulatn may be one-sided. Muhammad in response attacked Bukka's army and vowed to not sheathe his sword until he avenged the massacre by killing 100,000 Hindus. At Raichur Doab, Muhammad killed 70,000 Hindus. He pursued Bukka throughout his dominions and the slaughtered no less than 400,000 Hindus around Vijaynagara. Bukka sued for peace and even the Muslim officers were moved to beg on hopes the slaughter might cease. Muhammad replied that though he had killed four times the number of Hindus than his promise, he will not desist until the draft on treasury was honored. The envoys agreed to this, resulting in an end to the war. The Hindus shocked by the bloodshed called on both parties to avoid killing non-combatants in the future. Muhammad agreed and the agreement, though sometimes violated, was to some extent successful in stopping the atrocities during the long period of intermittent warfare between the two kingdoms.[132][133][134]

The Barid Shahi, surrounded by more powerful states, had invited the intervention of Vijayanagara in the affairs of the Muslim kingdoms. The arrogance of Sadasiva Raya had embarrassed and disgusted both his enemies as well as allies, in addition the excesses of his troops had horrified the Muslims. He demanded cessation of extenstive territory from Bijapur for his assistance to Ali as well as from Golconda as punishment for duplicitous actions of Ibrahim. It seemed apparent to them that the end of Muslim rule was at hand if his ambition was not curbed. The Hindu army was defeated at the Battle of Talikota and fled with their loss estimated at 100,000 men.[135] The city was hastily abandoned after its defeat.[136] Both Muslims and Hindus plundered and burnt the Vijayanagara city.[137] The victors occupied the city for six months and had it destroyed while plundering the country.[135]

European colonial rule

Portuguese Goa

During the Portuguese rule of Goa, thousands of Hindus were coerced into accepting Christianity by the passage of laws that made it difficult for them to practice their faith, harassed them under false pretences or petty complaints and gave favourable status to converts (indiacatos) and mestiços in terms of laws and jobs.[138] The Goa Inquisition, was established in 1560 by Portuguese missionaries in the Estado Português da Índia. The Goa Inquisition was directed against backsliding converts (that is, former Hindus and Muslims who had converted to Christianity), and it has been recorded that at least 57 Goans were executed over a period of three hundred years, starting in the year 1560.[139][140] [139][140] The inquisition was proposed by St. Francis Xavier.[141][142]

According to Teotónio de Souza the Hindus faced severe persecution with great fortitude under the Portuguese in Goa.[143] 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.[143]

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.

Mappila Riots (1836-1921)

Mappila Riots or Mappila Outbreaks refers to a series of riots by the Mappila (Moplah) Muslims of Malabar, South India in the 19th century and the early 20th century (c.1836–1921) against native Hindus and the state. The Malabar Rebellion of 1921 is often considered as the culmination of Mappila riots.[144] Mappilas committed several atrocities against the Hindus during the outbreak.[145][146] Annie Besant reported that Muslim Mappilas forcibly converted many Hindus and killed or drove away all Hindus who would not apostatise, totalling the driven people to one lakh (100,000).[147]

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.[148]

Direct Action Day

In 1946, the Cabinet Mission to India was planning the transfer of power from the British Raj to the Indian leadership. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the one time Congressman and Indian Nationalist, and now the leader of the Muslim League, had accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan of 16 June whereas the Congress rejected it outright. Fearing Hindu Domination in the Constituent Assembly, Jinnah denounced the British Cabinet Mission and decided to boycott the Constituent Assembly to try to put pressure on Congress and the British, by resorting to "Direct Action".

The Muslim League responded by planning and carrying out a hartal ("general strike") on 16 August 1946 (called Direct Action Day).[149] Upon the request of Suhrawardy, Muslim League Chief Minister of Bengal, the Governor of Bengal Frederick Burrows declared a public holiday that day.[149][150][151] 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.[152] On the afternoon of Direct Action Day Suhrawardy and another speaker Nazimuddin addressed a Muslim rally.[149] As soon as many of the listeners left the meeting they were reported to have started violently attacking the Hindus and looting their shops.[149][151] 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.[149] The Hindus, supported by Sikhs, in the city of Calcutta retaliated.[153][154] All these events are known as the Great Calcutta killings of 1946.[153]

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.[155][156] In Calcutta, within 72 hours, more than 4,000 people lost their lives and 100,000 residents in the city of Calcutta were left homeless.[151][157] Some sources claim that between 7000-10000 people were killed, including both Hindus and Muslims.[158] On 21 August Bengal was brought under the Viceroy's rule.[159] British troops entered the place, and the rioting was reduced by 22 August.[160] 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

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.[161][162] Rioting in the region began in the Ramganj police station area by a mob.[163] 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.[163] From 2 October, there were instances of stray killings.[164]

Relief operations took place and Gandhiji visited the place on a peace mission even as threats against the Hindus continued.[165] While claims varied, the official Muslim League Bengal Government estimates of those killed were placed at a conservative 200.[166] According to Suhrawardy 9,895 people were forcibly converted in Tippera alone.[167] Ghulam Sarwar Hossain, a religious leader who belonged to a local political party dominated by Muslims,[168] was the main organiser of the riot.[169] It was said that the local administration had planned the riot and that the police helped Ghulam Sarwar escape arrest.[169] A large number of victims were Namasudra (a Bengali Hindu lower caste).[170] 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.[171] Women were abducted and forced into marriage.[162][171] In retaliation Muslims were massacred in Bihar and in Garhmukteshwara in the United Provinces.[163] 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.[163] The official estimates of the dead at that time were 445.[163]

Hyderabad state

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) refused to accede to India, despite being a Hindu majority state. 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.[172]


Hindus constitute 2 percent of Pakistan's population.[173][174][175] Hinduism is the second largest religion in Pakistan after Islam, according to the 1998 Census.[176] As of 2010, Pakistan had the fifth largest Hindu population in the world and PEW predicts that by 2050 Pakistan will have the fourth largest Hindu population in the world.[177]

There has been historical decline of Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism in the areas of what is now called Pakistan. This happened for a variety of reasons even as these religions have continued to flourish beyond the eastern frontiers of Pakistan. The region became predominantly Muslim during the rule of the Delhi Sultanate and later Mughal Empire due to the forced conversions in what is now called Pakistan and the rest of South Asia. The predominantly Muslim population supported Muslim League and Pakistan Movement. After the independence of Pakistan in 1947 approximately 4.7 million Hindus and Sikhs moved to India while 6.5 million Muslims settled in Pakistan.[178]

In the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition Pakistani Hindus faced riots. Mobs attacked five Hindu temples in Karachi and set fire to 25 temples in towns across the province of Sindh. Shops owned by Hindus were also attacked in Sukkur. Hindu homes and temples were also attacked in Quetta.[179]

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."[180]

United States government cables noted that Hindus were specific targets of the Pakistani army.[181][182] 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.[183] More than 60% of the Bengali refugees who fled to India were Hindus.[184][185] 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[186][187]

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.[188]

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."[189] 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.[190] 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.[191][192] 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.[193]

In the Kashmir region, approximately 300 Kashmiri Pandits were killed between September 1989 to 1990 in various incidents.[194] In early 1990, local Urdu newspapers Aftab and Al Safa called upon Kashmiris to wage jihad against India and ordered the expulsion of all Hindus choosing to remain in Kashmir.[194] In the following days masked men ran in the streets with AK-47 shooting to kill Hindus who would not leave.[194] Notices were placed on the houses of all Hindus, telling them to leave within 24 hours or die.[194]

As of 2005, it is estimated that between 250,000 and 300,000 pandits have migrated outside Kashmir since the 1990s[195][196] due to persecution by Islamic fundamentalists in the largest case of ethnic cleansing since the partition of India.[197] The proportion of Kashmiri Pandits in the Kashmir valley has declined from about 15% in 1947 to, by some estimates, less than 0.1% since the insurgency in Kashmir took on a religious and sectarian flavor.[198]

Many Kashmiri Pandits have been killed by Islamist militants in incidents such as the Wandhama massacre and the 2000 Amarnath pilgrimage massacre.[199][200][201][202][203] The incidents of massacring and forced eviction have been termed ethnic cleansing by some observers.[194]

Elsewhere in India

There have been a number of more recent attacks on Hindu temples and Hindus by Muslim militants in India. Prominent among them are the 1998 Chamba massacre, the 2002 fidayeen attacks on Raghunath temple, the 2002 Akshardham Temple attack allegedly perpetrated by Islamic terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba,[204] and the 2006 Varanasi bombings (supposedly perpetrated by Lashkar-e-Toiba), resulting in many deaths and injuries.

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".[205][206][207]

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.[208][209]

In Assam, members of the primarily Christian Hmar ethnic group have placed bloodstained-crosses in temples and forced Hindus to convert at gunpoint.[210]

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.[211]

On 2 May 2003, eight Hindus were killed by a Muslim mob at Marad beach 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.[212] The commission affirmed "a clear communal conspiracy, with Muslim fundamentalist and terrorist organisations involved".[212] The courts sentenced 62 Muslims to life imprisonment for committing the massacre in 2009.[213]


There have been several instances where Hindu refugees from Bangladesh have stated that they were the victims of torture and intimidation.[214][215][216] A US-based human rights organisation, Refugees International, has claimed that religious minorities, especially Hindus, still face discrimination in Bangladesh.[217]

One of the major political parties in Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, openly calls for 'Talibanisation' of the state.[218][219][220] 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 won't happen, the country is not on the brink of being Talibanized.[218] 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.[221]

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".[222] 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.[222]

On 6 February 2010, Sonargaon temple in Narayanganj district of Bangladesh was destroyed by Islamic fanatics. Five people were seriously injured during the attack.[223] Temples were also attacked and destroyed in 2011[224]

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.[225]

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.[226] [227] 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.[228][229] 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.[225] According to community leaders, more than 50 Hindu temples and 1,500 Hindu homes were destroyed in 20 districts.[230]


Hindu women have also been known to be victims of kidnapping and forced conversion to Islam.[231] An official of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said in 2010 that around 20 to 25 Hindu girls are abducted every month and forcibly converted to Islam.[232] Many Hindus are continuing to flee Pakistan even now due to persecution.[233] 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.[234]

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.[235] In January 2017, a Hindu temple was demolished in Pakistan's Haripur district.[236]

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.[237] Forced conversion, rape, and forced marriages of Hindu women in Pakistan have recently become very controversial in Pakistan.[238][239]

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.[240] In January 2014, a policeman standing guard outside a Hindu temple at Peshawar was gunned down.[241] The 25 March 2014 Express Tribune citing an All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement (PHRM) survey said that 95% of all Hindu temples in Pakistan have been converted since 1990.[242] Pakistanis attack Hindu temples if anything happens to any mosque in neighbouring India.[243]

Although Hindus were frequently soft targets in Pakistan,[244][245] 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.[246][247] This has been observed in the past whenever the conflicts between the two nations escalated[248] 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.[249]

In July 2010, around 60 members of the minority Hindu community in Karachi were attacked and evicted from their homes following an incident of a Hindu youth drinking water from a tap near an Islamic mosque.[250][251] In January 2014, a policeman standing guard outside a Hindu temple at Peshawar was gunned down.[252] Pakistan's Supreme Court has sought a report from the government on its efforts to ensure access for the minority Hindu community to temples - the Karachi bench of the apex court was hearing applications against the alleged denial of access to the members of the minority community.[253][254][255]

In 2005, 32 Hindus were killed by firing from the government side near Nawab Akbar Bugti's residence during bloody clashes between Bugti tribesmen and paramilitary forces in Balochistan. The firing left the Hindu residential locality near Bugti's residence badly hit.[256]

The rise of Taliban insurgency in Pakistan has been an influential and increasing factor in the persecution of and discrimination against religious minorities in Pakistan, such as Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, and other minorities. 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.[246] 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.[250][257] In January 2014, in an attack on a temple, the guard was gunned down.[241]

Some Hindus in Pakistan feel that they are treated as second-class citizens and many have continued to migrate to India.[258][259] According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan data, just around 1,000 Hindu families fled to India in 2013.[260] In May 2014, a member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, revealed in the National Assembly of Pakistan that around 5,000 Hindus are migrating from Pakistan to India every year.[261]


Under the Taliban regime, Sumptuary laws were passed in 2001 which forced Hindus to wear yellow badges in public in order to identify themselves as such. This was similar to Adolf Hitler's treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany during World War II.[262][263] 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.[264] In addition, Hindus were forced to wear yellow distinguishing marks, however, after some protests Taliban abandoned this policy.[265]

The decree was condemned by the Indian and United States governments as a violation of religious freedom.[266] Widespread protests against the Taliban regime broke out in Bhopal, India. In the United States, the chairman of the Anti-Defamation League Abraham Foxman compared the decree to the practices of Nazi Germany, where Jews were required to wear labels which identified them as such.[267] 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.[268] In the United States, congressmen and several lawmakers.[268] wore yellow badges on the floor of the Senate during the debate as a demonstration of their solidarity with the Hindu minority in Afghanistan.[269]

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.[269] Since the 1990s many Afghan Hindus have fled the country, seeking asylum in countries such as Germany.[270]

Sri Lanka

Most of the LTTE's leaders were captured and gunned down at point blank range in May, 2009, after which a genocide of Sri Lankan Tamils in the Northern Province, Sri Lanka has started.[271][272][273] Even a book, The Tamil Genocide by Sri Lanka has been written on this genocide. Tamils Against Genocide hired US attorney Bruce Fein[274] 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.[275]


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.[276]

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.[277]


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."[278]

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.[279]


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.[280] On 21 April 2006, the Malaimel Sri Selva Kaliamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur was reduced to rubble after the city hall sent in bulldozers.[281]

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.[282] 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.[283] 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.[283] According to a lawyer for the Hindu Rights Action Task Force, a Hindu temple is demolished in Malaysia once every three weeks.[284]

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.[285]

Laws in the country, especially those concerning religious identity, are generally slanted towards compulsion into converting to Islam.[286]

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.[287]


Hindus in Fiji constitute approximately 38% of the country's 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.[288] 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[288][289] 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.[290] Hindus have made many contributions to Trinidad's 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, the cremation ordinance, and other discriminatory laws.[290] 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".[290] 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.[290] 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.[290] Hindus have been also been subjected to persistent proselytisation by Christian missionaries.[291] 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.[291]

United States

Hindus constitute 0.7% of the total population of the United States.[292] They are also the most affluent religious group.[293][294] Hindus in the US enjoy both de jure and de facto legal equality. However, a series of attacks were committed against people of 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.[295] 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.[296]

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.[297]

In October 1987, a group of youths attacked Navroze Mody, an Indian man of Parsi (Persian) origin, who was mistaken for a Hindu, after he had left the Gold Coast Cafe with his friend who fell into a coma. Mody died four days later. The four convicted of the attack were Luis Acevedo, Ralph Gonzalez and Luis Padilla - who were convicted of aggravated assault; and William Acevedo - who was convicted of simple assault. The attack was with fists and feet and with an unknown object that was described as either a baseball bat or a brick, and occurred after members of the group, which was estimated as being between ten and twelve youths, had surrounded Mr. Mody and taunted him for his baldness as either "Kojak" or "baldie". Mody's father, Jamshid Mody, later brought charges against the city and police force of Hoboken, New Jersey, claiming that "the Hoboken police's indifference to acts of violence perpetrated against Asian Indians violated Navroze Mody's equal protection rights" under the Fourteenth Amendment.[298] Mody lost the case; the court ruled that the attack had not been proven a hate crime, nor had there been proven any malfeasance by the police or prosecutors of the city.[298]

A few days after the attack on Mody, another Indian was beaten into a coma; this time on a busy street corner in Jersey City Heights. The victim, Kaushal Saran, was found unconscious 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.[299] 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.[300]

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.[301]


In 2013 a Hindu Temple in Surrey had 3 windows smashed. A baseball bat found there after the attack had Sikh markings.[302]

See also


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  85. Ahmad Yadgar, Wakiat-i Mushtaki and other texts say that this use of stone idol parts to weigh food, and particularly meat, served as a daily reminder, while humiliating the religious sentiments of Hindus, who held all killing of animal life to be wrong as they practiced vegetarianism.
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    In contrast to Avari, the historian Abraham Eraly estimates Aurangzeb era destruction to be significantly higher; "in 1670, all temples around Ujjain were destroyed"; and later, "300 temples were destroyed in and around Chitor, Udaipur and Jaipur" among other Hindu temples destroyed elsewhere in campaigns through 1705.[96] The persecution during the Islamic period targeted non-Hindus as well. Avari writes, "Aurangzeb's religious policy caused friction between him and the ninth Sikh guru, Tegh Bahadur. In both Punjab and Kashmir the Sikh leader was roused to action by Aurangzeb's excessively zealous Islamic policies. Seized and taken to Delhi, he was called upon by Aurangzeb to embrace Islam and, on refusal, was tortured for five days and then beheaded in November 1675. Two of the ten Sikh gurus thus died as martyrs at the hands of the Mughals. (Avari (2013), page 155)
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