India has been independent for almost 68 years now and has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of development. However, during this period, the country has also been scarred frequently by incidents such as communal riots. Although India is known for being a land of diversity, where people belonging to different religions and communities live together, over six decades, thousands of people have fell prey to the cruel man slaughter in the name of religion in this country, which were primarily spurred by intolerant fragment of the society resulting in the minorities being victimized. These 10 of such horrifying communal riots to have ever occurred in India and their stories are sure to spend shivers up your spine.
1. Anti-Sikh Riots, 1984
These riots were triggered after the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was slayed by her two bodyguards who belonged to the Sikh religion. The murder resulted in bloodshed and chaos in many parts of Delhi and other parts of India. The target of this uprising was the people belonging to the Sikh community. Approximately 2800 people were killed as a result of these riots, of which 2100 people lost their lives in New Delhi alone. Many Human Rights organizations have been persuading the government to initiate strict action against the culprits and although many have been punished, reportedly a few accused have still not been tried by the judiciary system.
2. Calcutta Riots, 1946
Considered to be one of the bloodiest communal rifts to ever occur in India, this grave event, also referred to as ‘Great Calcutta Killings,’ occurred in 1946. It is believed that the riots were caused by the angst amongst the minorities residing in India who believed that they would be asked to leave the country after the British rule ends, since majority of the nation’s population was Hindu. The brutal massacre continued for a period of four days in the capital of West Bengal and approximately 10000 people lost their lives in the riot. Many Calcutta residents ended up becoming homeless in a matter of just 3 days.
3. Babri Masjid Riots, 1992
The ancient shrine of Babri Masjid, a worship place of the Muslims located in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, was demolished in December 1992 to pave way for a temple. This incident led to a huge uproar across the country in the form of clashes between people belonging to the Hindu and Muslim communities. Although many cities were hugely affected by the communal riots, one of the worst hit places was Mumbai (then known as Bombay). The riots started in December 1992 and continued till January 1993. More than 1000 people were killed in the massacre and hundreds were left homeless. One of the most horrifying incidents among the many that took place in Mumbai during the riots was the mass murder of Muslims who were confined to a room in the Goregaon area. The room was set on fire and all these people were burnt alive.
4. Muzaffarnagar, 2013
These riots which occurred in 2013, is considered to be one of the worst events in the history of Uttar Pradesh. The aftermath of this clash which started on August 21, 2013, killed 62 people, of which 20 were Hindus and 42 belonged to the Muslim sect. The lives of more than 50,000 people living in the district were disrupted by this incident. The riots even paved way for sexual violence such as gang rape. According to records, more than 13 cases of rape had occurred during this period.
5. Gujarat, 2002
Gujarat was still reeling from the shocks of the devastating earthquake of 2001, when the horrifying communal riots struck during early 2002. A train named ‘Sabarmati Express,’ which carried Hindu pilgrims, also known as ‘Karsevaks,’ returning from Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, was gutted in a fire. This resulted in a huge outcry in the form of communal violence. Thousands of people, including children and women were killed in this incident according to a survey. However, it is believed that many more people lost their lives during this incident and more than 200 people had gone missing from the state. Reportedly, many people who have been accused of carrying out the crimes have not yet been tried.
6. Bhagalpur, 1989
The Bhagalpur district of Bihar witnessed one of the bloodiest massacres of independent India in the year 1989. There were two incidents that provoked the riots but the root cause of this rift, which occurred between Hindus and Muslims, was the attack of a religious procession which occurred in the town. People belonging to the Hindu community carried bricks meant for the construction of a temple at Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh when they were attacked by the Muslim community. The news of two Hindus being murdered, one that spread like wildfire across the district added further fuel to the fire. Around 1000 people were brutally killed in this grave incident.
7. Kashmir Riots, 1986
This beautiful valley was already scarred by insurgent operations and then the violent communal clash of 1989 left the people more disturbed than ever. The riot was more of an attempt to evacuate the minority population of Hindus from the state. The epicenter of this rift was the Anantnag district in the state. Many pundits belonging to the Hindu community were displaced from their homes as a result of this inhuman act.
8. Moradabad Riots, 1980
During the months of August to November, in 1980, massive violent clashes erupted in the Moradabad district of Uttar Pradesh. The cause behind the conflict was a pig that was placed in front of a mosque by opposing communities. People belonging to the minority community brought this to the notice of the police officials located in the area. However, the cops refused to pay heed to these individuals, leading to an outbreak. The policemen fired a few rounds at people, which later took the form of a full-fledged communal riot. More than 400 people were brutally killed as a result of this furore.
9. Aligarh Riots, 2006
The cause behind this violent uproar, which occurred in the state of Uttar Pradesh, was a result of a misunderstanding between the Hindu and Muslim communities during the ‘Ram Navami’ celebrations of April, 2006. Around six people lost their lives due to this religious furore and several others were injured. A curfew was imposed soon after and Aligarh resumed to normalcy in a matter of a few days.
10. Bhiwandi, 1970
The 1970 Bhiwandi riots are considered to be one of the deadliest of its kind to occur in the state of Maharashtra, prior to the Babri Masjid massacre. The cause behind the massacre was a procession held to celebrate the birth anniversary of the legendary Maratha ruler, Shivaji. A violent clash broke out between individuals belonging to Hindu and Muslim communities during the procession, leading to the death of 250 people.