Politics and Religious Conflicts in India

The Golden Temple Operation also called Operation Blue star, was an Indian army operation ordered by Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi to root out Sikh separatists from the Golden Temple in Amritsar, a city in the North-western part of India. The operation took place between the 3rd and 6th of June 1984. The secessionist movement was called Khalistan movement, led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and aimed at creating a separate Sikh state called Khalistan, in the larger Punjab region of India. The group was accused of amassing weapons in the Sikh temple and starting a militia group.

The Indian army operation used heavy army machinery including army tanks, artillery, helicopters and armored vehicles in its offensive against the Sikh extremist group. This resulted in the death of about 492 civilians, the worst civilian death ever recorded in India and 83 soldiers with 220 injured. The offensive by the Indian army was a bad idea as it led to worldwide uproar and tension among the Sikh community. Approximately 4, 000 Sikh soldiers mutinied all across India in protest and small battles were wedged on the mutineers to bring them under control.

The action by the Indian government is seen as a political gimmick by the Prime Minister into her re-election, resulted in her assassination on 31st of October 1984 by her two Sikh bodyguards, creating sharp divisions in the country which resulted in anti-Sikh demonstrations. The army thereby withdrew its forces from the Golden Temple later in 1984 amid pressure from the Sikh community.

The use of the Golden temple as a safe haven for weapons training, armory storage and operation base for attacks on petty government officials, Hindus and Sikhs who disagreed with Bhindranwale, amounted to terrorism as Sikh community disagreed with the Sikh terrorist group on the use of the temple and religion to fight for their selfish political and criminal agenda.

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Politics has a major influence on religion not only in India but worldwide. This has been witnessed in the Sikh conflict as explained above among other conflicts including, The Babri-Masjid Conflict which resulted in confrontations between the Hindus and the Muslims. The Hindus claim that after conquering Rajputana kingdom of Mewar and the Hindu King of Chittodgad, Rana Sangrama Singh, a Muslim governor built the Babri Masjid after destroying a temple in the city of Ayodhya. The Muslims deny this assertion. The Indian government has fuelled the Ayodhya Debate and conflict as the Indian party dominates politics of India thereby supporting Hindus in their bid to destroy the mosque.

Gujarat conflict took place in 2002 where, a series of violence took place including Naroda Patiya massacre, Godhra train burning and incidental riots between Hindus and Muslims in the Indian state of Gujarat. The nature of the violence was politically controversial as each religious group was supported by partisan government officials for example; the Citizen Tribunal report concluded that state government and chief minister Narendra Modi complied in the violence where thousands of Muslims were killed.

Kashmir problem started in 1947 with the partition of the larger India. The conflict resulted between Pakistan and India on true ownership of the disputed land. This has in the resent years taken a religious turn from a political one as Secular and Religious Muslim ideologies clash. Pakistan insists that it has the right to absorb the rest of the Kashmir because of religion and India insists on its secularism. For a solution to be arrived at Muslims in India and Pakistan should believe in the “Two-nation” theory where Secular and Religious policies go hand on hand.

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