In this ninety-ninth archive story by Kristian Bertel, we learn about the religious riots and violence against Hindus and Muslims in India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
The history of modern India has many incidents of communal violence and during the 1947 partition there was religious violence between Muslim-Hindu, Muslim-Sikhs and Muslim-Jains on a gigantic scale. Hundreds of religious riots have been recorded since then, in every decade of independent India. In these riots, the victims have included many Muslims and Hindus.
The history of modern India has many incidents of communal violence and during the 1947 partition there was religious violence between Muslim-Hindu, Muslim-Sikhs and Muslim-Jains on a gigantic scale. Hundreds of religious riots have been recorded since then, in every decade of independent India. In these riots, the victims have included many Muslims and Hindus.

Religious riots in India

There have been several instances of religious riots and violence against Muslims since the Partition of India in 1947, frequently in the form of violent attacks on Muslims by Hindu mobs that form a pattern of sporadic sectarian violence between the Hindu and Muslim communities. Over 10,000 people have been killed in Hindu-Muslim communal violence since 1950 in 6,933 instances of communal violence between 1954 and 1982.

Causes of this violence against Muslims
The causes of this violence against Muslims are varied. The roots are thought to lie in India's history – resentment toward the Islamic conquest of India during the Middle Ages, policies established by the country's British colonizers and the violent partition of India into an Islamic state of Pakistan and India with a Muslim minority. Many scholars believe that incidents of anti-Muslim violence are politically motivated and a part of the electoral strategy of mainstream political parties who are associated with Hindu nationalism like the Bharatiya Janata Party. Other scholars believe that the violence is not widespread but that it is restricted to certain urban areas because of local socio-political conditions. These patterns of violence have been well-established since partition, with dozens of studies documenting instances of mass violence against minority groups. Over 10,000 people have been killed in Hindu-Muslim communal violence since 1950. The roots of this violence lie in India's history, stemming from lingering resentment toward the Islamic domination of India during the Middle Ages, policies established by the country's British colonizers, the violent partition of India into a Muslim Pakistan, and India with a large but minority Muslim population. Hindu nationalists use the historical subjugation of India by Muslims as an excuse for violence and they feel that, since the Partition, Indian Muslims are allied to Pakistan and are possible terrorists and, therefore, the Hindus must take revenge for these past wrongs and reassert their pride. The higher fertility rate among Muslims has been a recurring theme in the Hindu Right's rhetoric and they claim that the higher birth rate among Muslims is part of a plan to turn the Hindus into a minority within their own country.

Lower caste has more power in India
Another reason given for these outbreaks of violence is the upward mobility of the lower castes caused by the expansion of the economy and the violence has become a substitute for class tensions. Nationalists, rather than deal with the claims from the lower class, instead view Muslims and Christians as not "fully Indian" due to their religion and portray those who carry out these attacks as "heroes" that defended the majority from "anti-nationals". Muslims are viewed as suspect and their loyalty to the state is questioned because of the ill-will still prevalent after the violence during partition.

"Religious violence in India includes acts of violence by followers of one religious group against followers and institutions of another religious group, often in the form of rioting and religious violence in India has generally involved Hindus and Muslims"

Despite the secular and religiously tolerant constitution of India, broad religious representation in various aspects of society including the government, the active role played by autonomous bodies such as National Human Rights Commission of India and National Commission for Minorities and the ground-level work being done by non-governmental organisations, sporadic and sometimes serious acts of religious violence tend to occur as the root causes of religious violence often run deep in history, religious activities and politics of India. Large-scale religious violence and riots have periodically occurred in India since its independence from British colonial rule. The aftermath of the Partition of India in 1947 to create a separate Islamic state of Pakistan for Muslims, saw large scale sectarian strife and bloodshed throughout the nation. Since then, India has witnessed sporadic large-scale violence sparked by underlying tensions between sections of the Hindu and Muslim communities. These conflicts also stem from the ideologies of hardline right-wing groups versus Islamic Fundamentalists and prevalent in certain sections of the population. Since independence, India has always maintained a constitutional commitment to secularism.

Delhi riots in 2020
The violence is the latest in a long line of communal clashes that date to the British partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, when the country was split into secular, Hindu-majority India and the Islamic state of Pakistan and recently the riots in New Delhi began over a disputed new citizenship law, which led to clashes in which hundreds were injured and houses, shops, mosques, schools and vehicles were set on fire. Tensions between Hindu hard-liners and Muslims protesting the Hindu-first policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government had been building for months when the violence exploded. Hindus and Muslims fought each other with for instance swords, metal rods and axes, leaving the streets where the rioting occurred resembling a war zone and the wholesale market has traders who buy in bulk from the inspiring markets like Chandni Chowk, Sadar Bazar, Grain Mandi and Gandhinagar that have already seen a decline in customers. Many shops and showrooms that lined the roads of Mustafabad and Shiv Vihar, which have seen among the worst of the violence in the riots, have been ravaged. For these small businessmen, more worrying than the immediate losses are the economic scars that are yet to come.

Read also:  Muslims in India

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of an Indian man in Delhi. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.