Hindu terrorists are not often the first thing to come to mind when considering India, but the rise of Hindu terrorism in the last few decades has been gradually changing that. Saffron terror, as the movement has been dubbed, has seen a steady increase as Hindu nationalists wage brutal, repeated attacks on non-Hindu minority sects of India, namely Muslims and Christians.
The excessively violent attacks, aided by government cooperation and complicity, range from live burnings, to dismemberment, to the bombings of mosques, trains, and government buildings. Who are these terrorist groups committing such acts, and what drives them to do it? It turns out their motives are as much political as they are religious, at least in a state where the ruling government has adopted an openly nationalist ideology. Read on to discover the facts and history behind the dark world of Hindu extremists.
Hindu Nationalists Have Burned, Bombed, And Dismembered Victims
The Hindu Nationalists are known for their brutal, violent attacks on non-Hindus, be it Christians, Muslims, or otherwise. However, while it may seem like these are primitive, mindless mob attacks, they are in fact carefully planned efforts by Hindu extremists.
Along with the bombing of mosques and government buildings, the groups have been known to burn and dismember people alive, one of the more publicized events being in 1999, most likely because it involved a Western missionary.
Graham Staines was an Australian missionary who had worked with leprosy patients for nearly 30 years, when he and his two young sons were burned alive in Orissa. In other incidents involving sieges on Muslim and Christian-centric communities, authorities stood aside as Hindu nationalists dismembered and killed minorities.
A Single Nationalist Group Has Been Responsible For The Most Destructive Bombings
An increasingly violent nationalist group, Abhinav Barat has been deemed responsible for numerous fatal bombings across India over the last decade.
The first prominent bombing occurred in 2006, when Abhinav Barat members detonated two explosive devices next to a Muslim mosque in Malegaon, India. 31 people were killed, and nearly 100 injured in the explosions, many of whom were small children. The bombing was at first wrongly blamed on Islamic terrorists, of which nine were sent to jail. However, years later, it came to light that it was indeed members of Abhinav Barat who had committed the atrocity.
Just a year later, in 2007, the group was held responsible for an equally violent bombing on a train unfortunately named "The Friendship Express" that runs between India and Pakistan. In these Samjhauta Express Bombings, more than 65 people died, and many more were injured. Reports say that most of the bodies were, "charred beyond recognition."
These are the two most destructive bombings carried out by the group, but there are numerous others Abhinav Barat are believed to be responsible for.
India's Central Government, Openly Supports Nationalist Ideologies
It's no secret that India's government, the Bharatiya Janata (BJP), intermingles with the doings of the nationalist groups (such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS) held responsible for the various bombings and murders that have raged through the country the last fifteen years or so. The party's official ideology as of 1989 is called, Hindutva, which roughly translates to, "Hindu-ness." The ideology seeks to define Indian culture in terms of Hindu values, or, as it's boldly announced on the BJP website, "Hindutva: The Great Nationalist Ideology."
There have been countless rumors of BJP party officials paying off members of the violent RSS group, as well as incidents in which BJP members simply stand by while atrocities are occurring. For example, in the violent outbreaks in Gujarat in February of 2002, Muslim victims were burned alive and even dismembered while police and BJP officials averted their eyes, or - even worse - joined in. Reportedly, the nationalist mobs that attacked the Muslim victims had obtained lists of Muslim homes and businesses, which was information that could have only come from the government.
This government compliance is one of the reasons the nationalists have been so successful in their crusade against non-Hindus in India. On many levels, the BJP aids the continued siege of terrorists, even going as far to alter school textbooks and lessons in order to emphasize Hinduism.
The Gujarat Riots Killed Thousands In A Battle Between Muslims And Hindus
A devastating and controversial event in India's history of Hindu terrorism were the Gujarat Riots of 2002. In a battle between Muslims and Hindus, the riots were reportedly sparked when a train carrying mostly Hindu pilgrims caught fire under peculiar circumstances, and 59 people died, mostly Hindus. An investigation found 31 Muslims guilty of the crime, and thus began the riots between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat.
Three days of brutal violence erupted, ending in upwards of 2,000 casualties, with an estimated 790 Muslims dead, and 254 Hindus. The Chief Minister of Gujarat at the time, Narendra Modi, was then accused of allowing and inciting the riots. Additionally, police and goverment officials were accused of releasing information about Muslim-owned businesses to Hindu nationalists in order to fuel the fire of the riots.