India is a land of peace. This is where men like Gautam Buddha, Mahavira, Gandhiji, and Jawaharlal Nehru have spoken about peace and harmony, which they believed would help the country progress in the long term. This is the land of diversity. This is where there are so many people of different kinds of religion, language, and culture living together. However, every now and then the country witnesses sustained periods of gruesome violence and abhorable disregard of human rights that question the very secular fabric of the country and its history of peaceful coexistence for eons. In a nutshell, riots perhaps are one of the hugest obstacles in the path of India’s national progress.
Calcutta Riots of 1946
The Calcutta Riots of 1946 are regarded as one of most devastating riots to have ever happened in India with approximately 10,000 deaths. This is also the reason they are referred to as the Great Calcutta Killings. The whole episode continued for four days and many people in the city lost their homes at that time. A goes history, the riots happened when Muhammad Ali Jinnah asked Muslims across the country to participate in direct action in order to press the claims for a separate state for Muslims.
Bhiwandi Riots of 1970
The Bhiwandi Riots of 1970 are regarded as the most dangerous of their kind to have happened in India before the Bombay Riots. The main reason of the riots was a procession taken out to commemorate the birthday of Shivaji. 250 people died in the riots.
Moradabad Riots of 1980
In 1980, the district of Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh was rocked by a series of religious clashes that lasted from August to November. The problems allegedly started when Hindus placed a pig before a mosque and Muslims, in turn, alerted the local police about the proceedings. 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. At least 400 people died brutally because of the riots.
Anti-Sikh Riots of 1984
The Anti-Sikh Riots of 1984 started after Indira Gandhi, the-then Prime Minister of India was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards. This led to a huge amount of chaos and bloodshed in Delhi as well as other parts of India and most of the violence was directed against the Sikhs. Almost 2800-3000 people died in the riots and nearly 2100 of these people died in Delhi itself. Ever since that incident several human rights organizations have been asking the government to take harsh action against the perpetrators of the riots. While a number of culprits have been meted out punishment, there are still some people whom the Indian judicial system is yet to try.
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.
Kashmir Riots of 1989
Ever since Independence, Kashmir has been plagued by consistent operations launched by the insurgents. However, things took an ugly turn with the riots of 1989 when the majority Muslims made every possible attempt to evacuate Hindus from Jammu and Kashmir. Anantnag in southern Kashmir was at the centre of all the controversy. A lot of Kashmiri pundits lost their homes as a result of the communal crime.
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.
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.
Aligarh Riots of 2006
The Aligarh Riots of 2006 took place on 5 April. It was Ram Navami. The riots happened because of an alleged misunderstanding between Hindus and Muslims. Almost 6 people died and many were injured. Soon after the incident, authorities imposed a curfew, helping the region become normal once again.
Muzaffarnagar Riots of 2013
These riots are one among the major blotches on the history of Uttar Pradesh, as well as India itself. The exact cause of these riots are not known, but with started with a clash between Hindus and Muslims on 21 August, 2013. It led to the death of 423 Muslims and 20 Hindus and disruption in the lives of more than 50,000 people of the district. The riots also contributed to a certain amount of sexual violence like gang rape. Thirteen such instances had occurred during the riots.