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Hindu-Muslim Relations in India
The strife between Hindus and Muslims date back to the 16th century. After the Mughals took over India, there was relative peace for some time between the Hindus and Muslims. This harmony between these two groups broke down, with the harsh Muslim rule at the end of the 17th century. Under the strict Mughal leader Aurangzeb, Taxes were imposed on all Hindus, after they had previously been abolished, Hindu temples were destroyed, and Hindus were forced to convert to Islam. By the 18th century the Mughal Dynasty had fallen apart, leaving the Indian subcontinent open and defenseless.
Consequently the British moved in, yet as the British were gaining control, both Hindus and Muslims came together and fought against British rule. Tensions grew higher as both Hindus and Muslims were refused high-ranking jobs in the government and the military. By the end of the 19th century the Indian National Congress, had been formed. The Indian National Congress was comprised of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, yet it was dominated by Hindus because of the huge numbers of them. People backed by the Indian National Congress began to make demands for equal rights and freedom from colonial rule. During the 1920’s Hindus and Muslims banded together in a non-violence resistance lead by the head of the Indian National Congress, Mohandas K. Gandhi. In order the stop the resistance the British transferred some political power and more equal representation to the Indian National Congress. In the 1930’s Muslim leaders lead by M.A. Jinnah, felt that the Indian National Congress, which was dominated by Hindus, was making all the choices for British ruled India and were basically excluding any Muslim leaders from the decision making process. The Muslim leaders felt that in order to protect the heritage of Islam, they must have their own state to rule over. In 1940 the All-India Muslim League under Jinnah declared its want for its own state called Pakistan, meaning "land of the pure." Both sides started to become uneasy thus deteriorating the relations between the two. On August 16, 1946 in the demand for separate Muslim state, the Muslim League called for "Direct Action” a day where thousands of Muslims and Hindus clashed violently. As a growing unrest started to sweep the country, the British felt that it was their time to leave. On midnight, August 14, 1947 Pakistan celebrated its independence, the very next day India celebrated its.
Despite the independence of Pakistan, this did not solve or put a damper on the conflict between Hindus and Muslims, the old problems still remained. Some may see the conflict just as a dispute between two different religions ideals. Although the conflict is much more complex than just a difference in values. Violence is the only kind of relationship that these two religions have known of for some time now. This violence has been perpetuated over the last few decades by various incidents. One of the more recent incidents was the destruction of the Babri Masjid mosque in Ayodhya, in North-central India. Fanatical Hindu groups claim that the site that the mosque was the birthplace of Ram, an incarnation of one of the Hindu Gods. In 1992 a mob of Hindu zealots destroyed the 18th century building. This touched off riots across the country that has killed thousands in the past years.
In recent years Muslims have been at the hands on the Hindu controlled Indian government. Wherever one looks, the obvious signs of the government’s non-partisan can be seen. Possibly the most visible pro-Hindu policy by the government is the official name change of Bombay to Mumbai, a Hindu goddess. The political party currently in power is the Bharatiya Janata Party. This party has formed a coalition with a out-spoken anti Muslim party. The Maharashtra state government dissolved the State Minorities Commission a public body set up to help maintain the rights of minorities.
The Indian government policy has this far been ruled by the feelings of partisan Hindu nationalism, a reserved stance on the problem, oppression of Muslims, and a basic lack of energy put to rectifying the problem. The Indian government has only aggravated the problem and made the future look even bleaker.
Hindus and Muslims have lived together on the same land for more than a thousand years. The future does not look bright for this conflict, tensions are on the rise, people not being educated to what is really happening, and most of all, people not understanding each other. Breaking a long history of violence is hard to do, but it can be done.