Research studies

Violence against Muslim Minorities in India (2013 -2023)


Prepared by the researcher :  Researcher : Reem Abdalkreem AlZawahrah  – Jordan -AlZarqa

Democratic Arab Center


This study aims to look at the escalating crisis of violence against Muslim minorities in India. This study raises a number of questions, one of them is investigating the status quo of Muslim minorities in India as well as the reasons behind the high incidence of violence that claimed hundreds of lives. Also, this study is dealing with a humanitarian  situation hat faces serious violations of main human rights, so its significance comes from that it views the issue of Muslim minorities in India from a fair perspective towards the persecuted categories. The study sheds light on the different reasons of the crisis such as religious and political reasons. The study used the historical method and the case study method in order to understand the roots of the crisis and to form a clear picture and understanding of the environment of the violence crisis for the sake of more accurate results and  sound rulings. The study concluded, through discussion, the need for raising global awareness about the Muslim minorities situation in India.”

Keywords: Muslim minorities, violence based on religious beliefs, Indian social classes, Indian religious classes,Hindu


India is one of the largest countries in the world in terms of multiple ethnicities, religions and different beliefs. Muslims in India make up only five 15% of India’s population and are thus considered a minority in relation to India’s total population(United Nations,2019).

Back in history, in the 19th century during the English occupation of India, the English colonial activity based on segregation and violence have fuelled racial differences, ethnicities, religious and linguistic diversity, making it a fertile environment for colonialism depending on India’s state of internal disintegration.

In 1947, the declaration of the partition of India and the Islamic republic of Pakistan into two independent states transformed the status of Muslims their , and it was the starting of the conflict between India and Pakistan on the region of Kashmir.

The situation f Muslim minorities in India became much complicated after extreme Hindu political parties came to authority in India, which used its position and power to crush Muslim minorities, the thing that can be easily proven by historical evidence.

The recent developments in the last ten years witnesses an escalation in the violence against Muslim minorities in India due to many rumours that spread on social media platforms about a higher growth in the Muslim population that could potentially lead the Hindus to become a minority in their country.

2-Research Problem:

Based on the previous introduction, therefore, the violence crisis continues till the present day despite the shocking number of attacks on Muslims’ lives in India and their properties as well as the violations of human rights and its implications. This research paper aims to find the reasons for the phenomenon’s persistence for many years, and its attack on Muslim minorities in particular.

3-Research Questions:

  • Primary Question

What is the status quo of Muslim minorities in India? What are the reasons behind the high incidence of violence that has claimed hundreds of lives and assaulted Muslims’ property and places of worship related to them in recent years?

  • Secondary Questions
  1. What is the role of the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947?
  2. Are Muslims subjected to violence in India regarding their religion or because they are minorities?
  3. To what extent are Muslims’ human rights violated in India?


This research paper is significant because it sheds light on one of the violent crises around the world, in India-in particular. It also discusses the underlying causes of the phenomenon of violence that has been increasing in recent year due to the implying of the religiosity in order to gain political benefits. This research paper tries to demonstrate the importance of the sound understanding of the dimensions of the crisis to clarify the role that the ultra-right governments and parties play to move. This research paper refers to the internal and social consequences that will occur on India as a country as a result of acts of violence against minorities, including Muslim minorities.The significance of this research paper lies on providing in-depth analysis of the international community and society organisations attitude inside India and outside endeavour to stop the bloodshed and to stand firmly against the flagrant violations of Muslim minorities’ human rights in India.


Two approaches are going to be adopted in this study: the historical approach and the case study approach.

  • The Historical Approach

The historical approach is important in the field of political science and international relations, and its significance lies in its power to make the researcher able to drop accidents that nowadays get past. It also contributes to the importance of a number of interactions that have taken place in recent time and the extent to which it affects historical events and the context of history. Recently, research methods have been developed, Thus, it has become possible to provide new information that has not been studied in the past.

Understanding the historical motives of violence against Muslims in India that is rooted in history gives more space to understand the current situation better and more comprehensively. In order to deal with the features of the case in all respects, there is an urgent need to read all the variables throughout history and their evolution and impact on the current situation. In addition to a very high likelihood of many reasons falling over time, there is a very high likelihood of emergence of new ones. The historical approach is therefore strongly present in India’s contemporary situation , the situation of minorities there and the nature of relations between it and the great groups.

  • The Case Study Approach

The importance of using this approach in international relations studies lies in the fact that it provides the opportunity of obtaining detailed information about the phenomenon, and by using this approach, more accurate conclusions can be reached.The case study approach will be employed in this study in order to form a better understanding of the crisis of violence in India.

The study will investigate the status quo of Muslim minorities in India during the escalation of the violence crisis, which absolutely has the reasons behind the high incidence of violence that had claimed hundreds of lives and assaulted Muslims’ properties and their places of worship in recent years, so the case study approach will be employed in this study in order to form a better understanding of the status quo of the Muslim minorities and how does it develop cross time until it reached a sharp turn that needs a fair perspective that gives a better understanding and lightens the road towards peace and stability among Muslim minorities in India.

In addition, the use of this approach will give a more accurate perception of the present impacts and the potential ones of the gross violations of human rights on the subjected categories. Moreover, it discusses the strong intervention of political actors in India, to ignite sectarian rallies between Muslims and Hindus on the pretext of religious or national emotion. This gives them greater support than the great segment of India, which is Hinduism, and this thus brings broad popular and political gains, which in turn have been successful in the arrival of Hindu extremist parties to authority .

The study looks also into the reaction of international community on the escalating violence against Muslim minorities and its implications and whether there was a tangible decision that helped in soothing fears about more attacks and more oppression and persecution.

6-literature review

There have been many studies on the crisis of the violence against Muslim minorities in India , few studies have taken the reasons behind the crisis of violence against Muslim minorities in India . This literature review sheds the light on some of the important studies on the topic.

Alick et al. ,1906. (The history of India): This study could be criticised because it discusses all the aspects of the history of India before and while the British colonisation of the Indian subcontinent from a colonial perspective that observed all spheres of language,culture and demography and has implied them for the colonial benefits.

Sahgal, Neha, 2021.(Religion in India: Tolerance and segregation) : This study provides a new-looks objectively towards all the categories in the Indian people that are engaged in religious conflict with each other and studies the nature of the  relationship between the religious communities that tend to see themselves as very different from others.

Khan, Wahidudin,1987.(Indian Muslims:The need for a positive look): This book discusses the early beginning of violence crisis in India and lays emphasis on both parties and the need for a clear dialogue-language in order to unify as Indians in one nation for the sake of peace for Muslims and Hindu classes with respect. The book came to a conclusion that the colonization, partition and political orientations should not remain a reason for violence between the different religious sects in India. Moreover, Khan calls all  Indians whether they are Muslims, Hindus and Christians to encourage the common factors between them, their common history and national identity as it is the only way for the unity of the Indian people. The book also highlights the significance of ignoring the  religious and ethnic conflicts in strengthening the  national unity and rejecting and the difference.

7- Chapters breakdown:

  1. Chapter one: Introduction:

 Section A:Demographic breif:The population of Muslim minority in India

 Section B: Historical overview: The roots of the crisis

  1. Chapter two: The reasons behind the increase in violence

Section A: religious and ethno-sectarian reasons

Section B:political reasons

  • Chapter three: Conclusion:
  1. References:

Chapter one:Introduction

A: Demographic brief: The population of Muslims in India

The population of India has diverse races: 72% Arion Indians, 25% Dravians, 3% Mongolians and other ethnicities, as for religions, they are divided between: 80.5% Hindus, 13.4% Muslims, 2.3% Christians, 1.9% Sikhs, and the rest are other religions. (Aljazira,2014)

According to the 2011 census, Islam was the second largest religion in India with Muslims numbering 172 million, making up 14.2 per cent of the population. The Muslims population in India is the third largest in the world after Indonesia and Pakistan and another 149 million in Bangladesh. Thus, Muslims make up around 40 per cent of the population of this region. (Vahed,2016)

All the different official figures and statistics emanating from reliable institutions show that the vast majority in India are Hindus and that any other caste is a minority including Muslims, who should never cause Hindus in India to worry about the increasing number of Muslims there .In another hand, various sample surveys conducted in India during the past 30 years have indicated distinct fertility differentials among religious groups so  these studies have indicated that Muslims have higher fertility than Hindus and that Hindus have higher fertility than Christians. The matter that raises a case of how the minority whose fertility is higher than other groups can  remain as a  minority over many years, stressing this part is a sign of political and religious orientations in  India to spread rumours that raise concern about Muslim minorities and then condone the violence against them.

B: Historical overview: The roots of the crisis

The British Empire began to extend its ambitions towards the Indian Peninsula by the East India Company, which relied on tricks, treaties and agreements to control India  by giving it economic and social powers to renew the  Indian society.During the arrival of the missionary and correctional missions, reconfigurations and westernisation of Indian society began as an attempt to change their religion and many of their prevailing social patterns. The coming of the British and their civilization that was at that time prevalent in the Western World had different repercussions among the various communities that made up the Indian Subcontinent, notably, Hindus and Muslims. In fact, following the Battle of Plassey (S.R,1993), which marked the beginning of the process of the British conquest of the Subcontinent, the imposition of British rule took place piecemeal. The East India Company was a bridge for the crossing of British colonisation to the Indian subcontinent until the final suspension of its activity by the British Raj in 1857 when the beginning of the de facto British colonisation of India began in the mid-19th century, where the processes of melting the Indian social system and culture began and overthrowing the dominant caste system in India. The elimination of the  Indian social systems was part of the English colonial politics, through which they changed the Indian mentality and behavior within a century.

Muslims were, indeed, reduced to poverty and destitution as a result of British rule. As the East India Company took control over the Subcontinent, it approached Hindus for co-operation, and the latter proved to be, from the very start, staunch supporters and reliable partners of the new rulers. (Khan,1978)

British rule in India encouraged conflicts, divisive currents and sectarian division, in fulfilment of his policy in the country, where India was a hotbed of diverse sects. “The English claimed to have created the political unity of India by the federal government, although it believes in territorial unity, it has become a burden on the people and for the interest of colonialism,” Nehru says. (Nehru,2015).

This means that Nehru believes that this unity suffered from the people and its strength when he wanted and sought independence. British colonisation in India followed a policy of racial discrimination, there is a controlling few limited to important administrative functions and with privileges in rights, judiciary, clubs, parks, public places, railways, education, taxes, etc. This category is of the British-White element (Philipe,1963). After decades of British colonisation, especially intellectuals, it became clear in the minds of the Indians, on the foundations of democracy and they became looking forward to the time when their country became independent of British dependence. Electoral institutions represented by the Indian Congress in 1885 emerged, with its presidency to be exchanged between a Muslim and a Hindu. The signs of disagreement began to appear on the scene in the way to go in the quest for independence. In the last years of the rule of the English on the Indian Peninsula, disagreements between Muslim and Hindu leaders began to intensify, especially when the Congress Party worked in cooperation with the English to give India a Hindu character which angered Muslims there to preserve their rights in their country. As a result, the Islamic League announced its explicit demands for the formation of a unified Islamic state for Muslims in India. At the same time, the costs of Britain’s control over security were very expensive after its disagreement with Gandhi and his declaration of civil disobedience against her, which made the English march towards declaring independence faster. Britain declared India’s independence in July 1947, followed by the declaration of Pakistan’s emergence in August 1947(Stephans,1964).

After the independence of India, the whole country was caught in the grip of a severe anti-Muslim wave. The extreme step of assassinating of Mahatma Gandhi was meant, inter alia, to leave the Muslims ‘defenseless’, but unwittingly,had ‘the opposite effect by showing the country dangerous and undisciplined extreme anti-muslims could be. (Fischer,1950).

This anti-Muslim movement was first launched by extremists in 1986, and from this point it continued to escalate in an atmosphere that became more and more emotionally charged.

Rabble-rousing, which had been the order of the day, reached its climax on December 6, 1992, when over 100,000 Hindu extremists spurred on by the leaders of Baharatya Janata Party and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, entered Ayodhya, where they stoned the 465-year-old Babri Masjid, razing it to the ground in the matter of hours (Khan,1987).

Chapter two:The reasons behind the increase of the crisis

A:Religious and ethno-sectarian reasons

The presence of the first Muslims on the Indian Subcontinent can be traced back to the early Arab merchants from the Arabian Peninsula, who conducted trade with Indians on the south-western coast of the Subcontinent, particularly on the Malabar Coast. As a result of this contact, some Muslim trading communities were established, and these communities were to play a significant role in peacefully converting many native people, who were overwhelmingly of Hindu faith, to Islam later on. This means that the islamic presence in India is firmly rooted within the Islamic conquest. On the other hand, Hinduism is one of the original religions in India, and the oldest and most converted among Indians. Ancient and contemporary history has witnessed multiple conflicts between Muslims and Hindus over time, but sectarian conflicts have intensified throughout India bloodily after the partition of India and Pakistan. Since then, violence has erupted due to underlying tensions between members of the Hindu and Islamic religions, including the Kajrat state riots in 1969, the 1970 Bhiwandi riots, the Nellie massacre in 1983, and the Bhagalpur violence in 1989 where these conflicts stem in part from the ideology of Hindu nationalism and Islamic extremism  which has been deeply imbued with the colonial policies of the English that cast a shadow over the status quo in India.

B:political reasons

The Indian government introduced a new law in July 2016 providing for citizenship for religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Under this law there will be an exception in granting citizenship to members of six religious minorities other than Muslims – Hinduism, Sikhs, Buddhism, Jane, Parisian and Christianity)BBC NEWS ,2020).This step is contrary to Article 14 of the secular Indian Constitution, which recognises equality for all Indian residents regardless of their religion, which means that the adoption of this law is a radical turning point in Indian laws, but Islamist and secular groups protested and viewed the bill as a call for religious discrimination and a flagrant violation of secularism principles in the Indian constitution. These protests led to a wave of engagement that has been hit by many and Indian authorities have imposed a state of emergency, banned large gatherings in parts of the capital New Delhi, disrupted the internet, and used force to stop marches and sit-ins. In 2019, mass protests erupted in India over the announcement of the new amended citizenship law, as well as the Indian government’s approval of the construction of a Hindu temple on the ruins of a mosque. The protests expressed the concern and concerns of Muslim minorities under Hindu nationalist parties and their continued policy of increasingly marginalising Muslim minorities. Other protests took place in India in 2020 that gradually turned into sectarian violence, with Hindus in favour of the resolution and Muslims opposing it appearing to attack each other. The confrontations developed into Hindus burning the homes of Muslims, attacking them by beating them, vandalising shops and violating the sanctity of mosques, leaving behind great vandalism and forcing five thousand Muslim families to leave their homes, which also resulted in the death of 47 people. In 2021, the rap of 20,000 Muslims was widely displaced in the Assam area and their residential neighbourhoods were removed on the pretext that they were established on state-owned land. Indian forces also shot at Muslim farmers who protested the expulsions and displacements. The arrival of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party to power in India can be discussed as one of the main components of persecution and systematic marginalisation against Muslim minorities in India. It is a right-wing party, and its policies have historically reflected a Hindu nationalist stance.

Over the past months, many human rights bodies and research centres have continued to record acts of violence against Muslims, accompanied by a public hate speech by a number of leaders of the ruling party. Waves of hatred against Muslims have escalated since the BJP came to power and won a landslide election victory in 2014. Things deteriorated markedly in 2019, with the Indian Parliament passing amendments to the Citizenship Act 1955 with the exception of Muslims in particular from the Immigration and Citizenship Act. The amendment is a legal consecration of a general hate climate, reinforced by the rhetoric of ruling right-wing party leaders toward the Muslim minority. Violations include the authorities’ adoption of laws and policies that “target or reflect on Muslims more negatively than others.” Added to this is the failure of the state in India to protect Muslims from attacks targeting them, some of which amount to murder and torture.

Hindus tend to see their religious identity and Indian national identity closely intertwined: Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Hindus say it is very important to be a Hindu to be a “real” Indian.Most Hindus (59%) also associate Indian identity with the ability to speak Hindi – one of dozens of widely spoken languages in India. These two dimensions of national identity – the ability to speak Hindi and being a Hindu – are closely related. Among Hindus who say it is very important to be a Hindu to be truly Indian, 80% also say that it is very important to speak Hindi until you are truly Indian.The BJP’s appeal is greater among Hindus who associate their religious identity and the Hindi language with being “really Indians”. In the 2019 national election, 60% of Hindu voters who believe it is very important to be Hindu and speak Hindi to be truly Indian cast their ballots in favour of the BJP, compared to a third of Hindu voters who do not feel strong towards both. Aspects of national identity,Overall, among those who voted in the 2019 election, three out of ten Hindus held all three positions: saying it’s very important to be a Hindu to be truly Indian; saying the same about speaking Hindi; and casting their votes for the BJP. (Sahgal, Neha, 2021)

Chapter three:conclusion

Islam is not a new religion in India, a truth that is entrenched and there is no remaining element of controversy that could harm its public acceptance. In effect, the spread of Islam in India had begun to happen quite gradually, but two factors in India’s history have had a slowing effect on this natural process. One is the ‘two nation theory’ and the other is the Muslims’ policy of protestation. As such ‘two nations theory’ proved a major obstacle to a proper understanding of Islam. It stands to reason that when an atmosphere is created in which people think of Muslims and non-Muslims as belonging to two separate and distinct nations, the non-Muslims are bound to feel disinclined towards Muslims.

This study reached the two  conclusions:

 first , the increasing cases of violence against Muslim minorities in India resulted from the  misunderstanding of the true and correct origins of the phenomenon of violence against Muslim minorities in India and the roots of ethnic attacks that led to the current situation in India and that the sound grasp of the crisis is definitely an important factor in reducing the tension between the religious communities in India .

Second ,this study concluded the extreme right Hindu parties that  came to authority in India and its role in implementing citizenship lawn with proposed amendments that  will accept immigrants from three neighbouring countries: Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan; Provided that they are Hindus, Christians and Sikhs, excluding Muslims.


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       Available on:

  • Stephens, Ian, Pakistan,1967, London
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  • Vahed, Goolam, 2016, Indentured Muslims in the Diaspora: Islam and Muslims in south Asia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
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