ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Changing Morphology of a Typical Riot

Will the right lessons be learnt from the recent communal riots in Bareilly and Hyderabad?

Communal violence has become so endemic to the polity of India that it has ceased to attract much attention outside its immediate area of impact, or unless it crosses very high levels of fatality and barbarity. Thus, the recent communal violence in Hyderabad and in Bareilly a month ago has remained on the sidelines of national attention. Fortunately, there was no death in the violence in Bareilly, while in Hyderabad only three people were killed. Yet, the scale, planning and causes behind the riots indicate a certain change in the morpho logy of the typical riot, a change which needs to be identified and understood if we want to keep religious sectarianism and violence in check.

In both cities, the present round of violence was preceded by mobilisations and speeches, primarily by Hindu fundamentalist groups. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its affiliates seem to have focused on the Rohilkhand region of Uttar Pradesh for some time, trying to “unite” the Hindus against the threats posed by “jihadis” and “anti-nationals”, which is Hindutva code for Muslims. Similarly, the violence in Hyderabad was preceded by visits from Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders calling for Hindu declaration of strength against what they called “Muslim assertion” in the claims for reservations and the recent electoral successes of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen. There is evidence from both cities that much of this violence was well planned and organised.

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