The Rise of Religious Extremism in India

The right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party’s landslide victory in the 2014 elections has precipitated a revival of Hindutva, or Hindu nationalism, in the world’s largest democracy. In the aftermath of the elections, Hindu extremists have directed hostilities toward Indian Christians and Muslims, among other minorities. Though Hindu extremism is not new, this wave of resurgent nationalism and Prime Minister Narenda Modi's silence on the subject are alarming. This timeline tracks the development of Hindu nationalism in India since 1925 and highlights some of the most significant incidents of religious unrest in India.

1925-09-27 10:24:34

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

As a response to British rule and rioting between India's Hindus and Muslims, Keshav Baliram Hedgewar founds the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the world's largest voluntary non-governmental organization.

1946-08-16 01:05:44

The Partition Of India

India gains independence from British rule. Yet the resulting Indian Partition does nothing to ease tensions between Indian Hindus and Muslims.

1951-10-21 01:05:44

Bharatiya Jana Sangh Founded

The same year India holds its first democratic elections, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh political party is founded by Shyma Prasad Mukherjee.

1977-01-23 01:05:44

Janata Party Founded

Led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the BJS merges with three other political parties to form the Janata Party and takes control of the Indian government.

1980-04-06 01:05:44

Bharatiya Janata Party Founded

The Bharatiya Janata Party is officially founded.

1992-12-06 11:33:04

The Ayodhya Holy Site Crisis

Organizaions associated with the BJP tear down a mosque in Ayodhya that stands on land sacred to Hindus. The incident lives on as one of the largest contemporary incidents of religious violence in history.

1996-04-27 15:41:46

1996 General Elections

The BJP emerges as the largest single party in the Lok Sabha and are invited by India’s president to form a government. However, the new coalition can not obtain the majority required to rule in the 545-member lower house.

1998-02-16 09:06:06

BJP Forms Majority Government

The BJP and its allies form majority government with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as prime minister.

2002-02-27 17:16:54

Gujurat Riots

A repercussion of the religious violence in Ayodhya, the Gujurat riots were even bloodier and resulted in the deaths of about 1,000 people, mostly Muslims.

2004-04-20 00:00:00

BJP Loses Majority

In 2004 parliamentary elections, the coalition loses their majority to the Congress Party’s United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

2010-09-30 16:18:14

Fallout from Ayodhya and Gujurat

More repercussions from the riots in Ayodhya and Gujurat end up favoring Hindus.

2014-05-16 00:41:43

Landslide Victory for BJP

Narendra Modi is chosen to lead the BJP electoral campaign which produces a significant victory for the BJP. The party won 282 seats outright and the NDA partners won 54, a clear majority. Modi is named prime minister on May 26 and forms a government of senior BJP officials and leaders from other coalition parties soon after.

The Rise of Religious Extremism in India

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