Posted on September 11, 2013

31 Killed in Indian Religious Violence

Shivam Vij, Christian Science Monitor, September 9, 2013

Hindu-Muslim violence 80 miles from Delhi in Muzaffarnagar in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, has left 31 dead and 40 more in the hospital raising fears of a return to widespread communal violence.

The riot is one of the biggest cases of Hindu-Muslim violence in India this year. India’s home minister said today that the country had seen 451 incidents of violence between religious groups so far this year, as compared with 410 incidents in all of 2012.

The increasing violence is reminiscent of the bloody riots in Gujarat state in 2002 that left more than 1,000 people dead, according to official estimates. Such large-scale Hindu-Muslim violence seemed to have ebbed since then–until this year.

“Many thought that with increasing prosperity violence between communities declines,” says historian and columnist Ramachandra Guha. “But India is a large and complex country and Pluralism is always a hard-won daily battle. While civil society has been active in its work for communal harmony, the consensus amongst the political class that we need communal harmony at all costs, seems to no longer be there.”

The death toll is expected to rise. The military and police have been deployed in the area and issued a curfew. And dozens of families were seen leaving the area on Sunday night, according to reports.

The recent violence began on Aug. 27, when three young men were killed after an altercation between Hindus and Muslims about a man of one community sexually harassing the woman of another. {snip}