Congress has ruled in India for most of its history. We’ve made progress and faced failures during our short history. We’ve seen some good times and some horrible times. Riots and ethnic violence are such horrible events that we should be ashamed of. While the Gujarat riots of 2002, one of the worst riots in Indian history were under BJP rule, a lot of the other riots have happened under Congress. Is it just a statistical anomaly, because Congress has been in power the longest, or does it have something to do with the way Congress has ruled? It’s for you to decide as you read about the top 7 riots under the Congress rule.
7. Assam Riots of 2012
In July 2012, riots broke out in Assam, where the local Hindu and Christian tribal people have always been opposed to the large waves of Muslim immigrants who come in from Bangladesh. The riots were meant to drive off these Muslims as they are considered a threat to the locals who are rapidly turning into a minority. 36 people were killed and 150,000 were displaced from their homes. The Congress led coalition government has been blamed for not restricting Bangladeshi refugees from entering and settling in Assam.
6. Kashmir Riots, 1990 to Present Day
The state of Jammu & Kashmir is the only state in India to have its own flag and technically it remains an autonomous state which is still waiting for the plebiscite that never happened. Since 1990, the situation in Indian controlled Kashmir has deteriorated further. It all began with the riots against the Kashmiri Pandits. Since then the Indian Armed Forces have been accused of using torture and inhuman practices to get information and maintain control. Many times since then, riots have broken out in Kashmir where the youth and the paramilitary forces have clashed. For most of this period, the Congress has been in power in the center and in coalition with National Conference at the state level. The government has denied any cases of human rights violation but independent observers have claimed that the violence is encouraged by the government.
5. Bombay Riots, 1992-93
The Bombay riots started because of the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. The first phase of the riots was the retaliation by the Muslims against the Hindus who celebrated the demolition. The second phase was the revenge taken by Hindus led by the Shiv Sena on the Muslims. The riots led to the Bombay blasts of 1993. There isn’t any direct correlation of Congress with the riots except that they were in power at the center. In fact the Babri Masjid demolitions were blamed upon RSS and BJP leaders.
4. Gujarat Riots of 1969
The riots that took place in Gujarat in 1969 were the first of many riots between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat. Officially 660 people were killed while unofficial figures are of around 2000 deaths. Many more were injured and a lot of property was destroyed and looted. This was the worst riot in India since the partition riots at the time of independence. The riots were politically motivated and RSS and Bharatiya Jan Sangh were accused of participating and organizing the riots. The Chief Minister of the Congress led state was Hitendra Desai who was supporting Congress (O) led my Morarji Desai instead of Congress (I) of Indira Gandhi. The police was accused of not taking action because Congress didn’t want to displease RSS. And the RSS accused Congress of adopting a policy to destroy Hinduism in the name of secularism which led to the riots.
3. 1989 Bhagalpur Riots
The Bhagalpur riots of October 1989, took place in Bihar in the district of Bhagalpur. 1000 people were killed and more than 50,000 were displaced from their homes. This was even worse than the 1969 Gujarat riots in terms of communal violence and number of casualties. The role of the police and that of SP KS Dwivedi hints towards politically motivated reasons behind the riots. CM Satyendra Narayan Sinha, stepped down after the riots and blamed his colleagues of instigating the riots and also criticized Rajiv Gandhi’s decision to stop the transfer of KS Dwivedi.
2. Operation Blue Star
Operation Blue Star wasn’t a technical riot but it deserves a mention in this list because of the alleged human rights violation by Congress. The military was used during this operation to seek out Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and other Sikh separatists who were demanding Khalistan. The operation has been condemned because of various factors such as the timing of the attack on a religious day for the Sikhs and a media blackout in Punjab. It was justified as a last resort action but that is arguable as well.
1. 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots
As a result of Operation Blue Star, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards and that led to the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. These riots were very horrific and an estimated 8000 people died as a result. In a WikiLeaks document released in 2011, it was stated that the United States knew about the part of the Indian government and the Congress party in these riots. These riots were supported by the government as a revenge for Indira Gandhi’s assassination and amount to nothing short of a massacre or mass genocide.