The Question of Religious Minorities in the South Asian Nation States

From its very formation SANSAD has been deeply concerned with the rights of religious minorities. Its origin was a response to the rise of Hindutva in India and the attacks on Muslims this force generated. It has been concerned with the massacre of the Sikhs in 1984 that brought to fore the question of minority rights in India and it continues to be concerned about the unfulfilled quest for justice in that matter. The impunity established in the 1984 massacre continues in the impunity in regard to the pogrom against Muslims in Gujarat and extends to the impunity legalized in the Armed Forces Special Powers Act that enables enormous violence in various parts of India.

But Pakistan too has been a scene of violence against minorities. Ahmediyas have been under attack for many years. Shias are under attack in many places. Hazaras have been killed in Baluchistan. Christians have been killed in large numbers and their churches have been under attack. There have been forcible conversions of Hindu women and large numbers of Hindus have been forced to migrate from Sindh and Baluchistan to India.

In Bangladesh also there have been attacks on Hindus and Buddhists.

Everywhere in South Asia majority religious communities are engaged in a battle for appropriating the state for their exclusive rule irrespective of constitutional professions. In this battle religion functions not as religion, either as doctrine or as practice, but as ideology in the service of economic, social, and political interests of particular religion-identified groups. Do we have an adequate understanding of the dynamics of this struggle to enable effective resistance? We can respond to the violence against minorities by various forms of protest. But is it possible to develop a strategy to address its fundamental dynamis or motive force?

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