[email protected]: 5 major riots that challenged India's secularism

New Delhi: India has an illustrious history of not taking an initiative in indulging in a war of more than 1,00,000 years. The concept geling well with a land where Mahatama Buddha, Lord Mahavira and Mahatma Gandhi were born. But same cannot be said about the riots in India. A land with multi-cultural, multi-ethnic population where various religions and faiths have flourished and a land which has welcomed and amalgated diversity in true spirits; there have been instances which have marred this pride of India every now and then. This is the land of diversity. This is where there are so many people of different kinds of religion, language, and culture living together. Here is the list of five major riots which have been like a blot on the clean slate.

1. Moradabad Riots of 1980

The Moradabad Riots kick-started when Hindus placed a pig before a mosque and Muslims, in turn, alerted the local police about the proceedings. At least 400 people died brutally because of the riots. In 1980, the district of Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh was rocked by a series of religious clashes that lasted from August to November. The clashes started when the cops did not listen to their complaints. It took the shape of a major riot when the policemen shot a few rounds at the common people.

2. 1984 Sikh riots:

The assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984 sparked riots that lasted 15 days. Several inquiry panels later, eight people were convicted. The politicians and police got away. The mayhem began at about 6 p.m. shortly after the death of Indira Gandhi was announced at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi. The news set the tone for a communal massacre that India hadn't quite witnessed since Independence. Chaos reigned on the streets and locality after locality in the capital echoed with the shrieks of the dying and burning people. A fortnight of carnage saw over 2,700 dead and many thousands injured.

3. Bhagalpur Riots of 1989

The Bhagalpur Riots of 1989 are regarded as one of the worst massacres in India. The main reason of the riots was an attack on Hindus and the subsequent killing of two Hindu men by a reportedly Muslim group. The group of Hindu pilgrims were attacked when they were in the process of carrying bricks, meant to be used for constructing the Ayodhya Temple. What followed was sheer carnage with more than 1000 people killed.

4. Bombay Riots of 1992-93

The Bombay Riots of 1992-93 started during December 1992 and continued till January 1993. The main catalyst in this case was the demolition of the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. There was significant uproar after the incident and it soon led to frequent clashes between Hindus and Muslims. Apart from Bombay, several other cities were affected in the riots as well with almost 900-1000 people dying on both sides with hundreds rendered homeless. In one of the gruesome incidents, Muslims reportedly hauled up at a room in Goregaon area were murdered en masse when the room was set on fire and people inside burnt alive.

5. Gujarat Riots of 2002

Gujarat Riots of 2002 are easily one of the most notable instances in the history of riots in India. Just before the riots happened, the state had been struck by a massive earthquake in 2001 and it was clearly recuperating from its aftershocks. It all started when the Sabarmati Express carrying Karsevaks – Hindu pilgrims – who were coming back from Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, was burnt. There was a huge uproar with allegations of communal violence and this started a three-day mass murder period where thousands of people – including women, and children were killed. It is also believed that almost 200 people went missing from the state afterwards. A lot of people who had taken part in the violence are still to be tried.

Compiled by News24Bureau based on information from multiple sources