Communalism (South Asia)
Communalism is used in South Asia to denote attempts to construct religious or ethnic identity, incite strife between people identified as different communities, and to stimulate communal violence between those groups. It derives from history, differences in beliefs, and tensions between the communities.
The term communalism was constructed by the British colonial authorities as it wrestled to manage violence between religious, ethnic and disparate groups in its colonies, particularly Africa and South Asia, in early 20th century.
Communalism is a significant social issue in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Communalism is a term used in South Asia to represent ideologies centred on particular communities, especially religious communities. The term came into use in early 20th century during the British colonial rule, where the rulers saw India divided into several communities and attempted to placate separate "communal" interests. The Hindu Mahasabha and the All-India Muslim League represented such communal interests, whereas Indian National Congress represented an overarching "nationalist" vision. In the run up to independence in 1947, communalism and nationalism came to be competing ideologies and led to the division of British India into the Republics of India and Pakistan. The bloody Partition violence gave a clear sense to every one what communalism leads to, and it has since been frowned upon in India.
Incidents of communal violence
Examples of communalist violence, with strong motivations based on religious identity include:
- the 1809–1811 Hindu-Muslim Lat Bhairo riots
- the 1921 Moplah Rebellion
- the 1931 Hindu-Muslim Benares riot
- the 1931 Cawnpore Riots
- Manzilgah and Sukkur (Sind) Riots, 15th Feb. 1940
- the 1946 Calcutta riots death toll estimated at 6,000.
- the 1947 "population exchanges" at the partition of India, resulting in an estimated 500,000 deaths.
- the 1971 Bangladesh genocide, 3 million victims, 8 million Hindus displaced.
- Hindu areas in Bangladeshi cities suffered particularly heavy blows. Time magazine reported on 2 August 1971, "The Hindus, who account for three-fourths of the refugees and a majority of the dead, have borne the brunt of the Pakistani military hatred."
- the 1984 anti-Sikh riots following the assassination of Indira Gandhi.
- the 1992 Bombay Riots in Bombay more than 200,000 people (both Hindus and Muslims) fled the city or their homes during the time of the riots, 900–3000 people died.
- 1992 December 2- Babri masjid demolition by Sangparivar and subsequent communal violence in various parts of India
- the 1998 Wandhama massacre, 25 Hindu victims.
- the 1999 Graham Staines murder.
- the 2000 Chittisinghpura massacre, 35 Sikhs killed.
- the 2002 Godhra Train Burning, 58 Hindus killed.
- the 2002 Gujarat violence,790 Muslims and 254 Hindus killed.
- the 2002 Kaluchak massacre, 31 Hindus killed.
- the 2002 Marad massacre, 14 Hindu deaths – Indian Union Muslim League conspired and executed the massacre.
- the 2006 Kherlanji massacre, lynching of four Dalits.
- the 2008 Indore Riots, 7 people killed, 6 of whom were Muslims
- the 2007–2009 religious violence in Orissa, Christians mostly targeted, Hindu houses burnt.
- the 2010 Deganga riots, Hindus targeted, Hindu businesses, houses and other property destroyed.
- the 2012 Assam violence, between Bodo Hindus and Bengali Muslim settlers
Incidents of "communal violence" cannot clearly be separated by incidents of terrorism. "Communal violence" tends to refer to mob killings, while terrorism describes concerted attacks by small groups of militants (see definition of terrorism). See also Terrorism in India#Chronology of major incidents.
- Its roots lie in the British colonial policy of taking “communities” as the relevant units in recruitment or in the allotment of seats in representative assemblies. Originally, the term had no pejorative connotation, but Indian nationalists in the freedom movement objected to these “communal” policies which allegedly aimed at keeping the Indian population divided. Indeed, the biggest worry of the freedom movement was the “communalist” collaboration of the Muslim League with the colonial administration: in exchange for “communal” electorates and recruitment quota, the party claiming to represent the Indian Muslims agreed to stay aloof from the anti-British agitation. Today, “communalism” is one of those labels allotted exclusively to people who reject it; it is a term of abuse. Even people who advocate communal recruitment quota (a demand recently revived by an array of Muslim organizations) are now self-described “secularists” and signatories to every new “National Manifesto (...) Against Communalism. (...) Jamaat-i-Islami (whose Pakistani wing has campaigned for decades, and with success, for the desecularization of the state) attacks “communalism” in the name of “secularism”. I cannot recall a single issue of the Islamist papers Radiance and Muslim India which failed to brandish “secularism” and denounce “communalism”.
(...) which lists Muslim grievances (...). These include: being blamed by Congress minsters for starting riots, being insulted by the singing of the “idolatrous” anthem Vande Mataram”, “Hail Mother(land)”, the non-recognition of Urdu as all-Indian link language, Gandhi's talk against cow-slaughter, and (...) Though the Muslim League was the very incarnation of communalism (foisting communal electorates, communal weightage in representation and communal job quota on India, its attacks on Congress, Mahatma Gandhi and even Jawaharlal Nehru were remarkably similar to the post-independence “secularist” critique of “Hindu communalism”. (Elst 2001, Decolonizing the Hindu Mind, p. 15-20)
- Caste system
- Persecution of Hindus
- Ayodhya debate
- Terrorism in India
- Indian nationalism
- Pakistani nationalism
- NCERT controversy
- Religion in India
- Persecution of Muslims
- Islamic Terrorism
- Language conflicts in India
- Hate group
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