Anti-Hindu Riots in West Bengal Further Disturbing Violent Trend

Washington, DC (July 14, 2017) — Recent anti-Hindu riots in the Indian state of West Bengal are reflective of a worrying trend of violence in the state and the wider region, according to leaders at the Hindu American Foundation (HAF).

Earlier this month, Muslim mobs attacked the Hindu community in Basirhat, Baduria and other neighboring areas, after news circulated that a Hindu high school student posted an allegedly blasphemous Facebook post about Islam.

“This latest incident represents a growing trend of violence targeting the Hindu community in West Bengal,” said Jay Kansara, HAF Director of Government Relations. “The state government and law enforcement have failed to effectively control violence and protect the lives and property of the Hindu community. Should this failure continue, the central government must ensure the safety of all citizens.”

The riots lasted for several days and led to the vandalism and destruction of several dozen Hindu owned shops and homes, as well as the destruction of police vehicles and government property. Several Hindus were also injured and a 65-year old man, Kartik Ghosh, was stabbed to death by the rampaging mob while he was on his way home, according to media reports. The high school student accused of committing blasphemy was arrested for posting the blasphemous Facebook post.

The violence came shortly on the heels of similar anti-Hindu riots in Dhulagarh, West Bengal last December.

“These riots represent a disturbing pattern of mob violence in the region in response to blasphemy allegations,” said Samir Kalra, Esq. HAF Senior Director. “Blasphemy accusations have frequently been used as a pretext and justification to attack Hindus and other religious minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh.”

In May, Muslim mobs in Lasbela, Pakistan attacked a police station where a Hindu business owner was being held for allegedly sharing a blasphemous image on WhatsApp, demanding that police hand him over so they could “punish” him. And in October, 15 temples were ransacked and at least 150 people injured by a rioting mob in Brahmanbaria, Bangladesh after a Facebook post reportedly mocked an Islamic pilgrimage site.

HAF has documented several blasphemy related incidents in its most recent human rights report, Hindus in South Asia and the Diaspora: A Survey of Human Rights, 2017.