Religious Discourse in the Bombay Riots 1992-1993: The Language of Hindutva Politics in Maharashtra

Cromer, McKenzie, Religious Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Ochs, Peter, Religious Studies, University of Virginia

The riots in Bombay, Maharashtra, were some of the most vicious and traumatic responses to the destruction of the Babri Masjid in 1992. After the nationally televised destruction of the masjid, tensions between Hindu and Muslims came to a boiling point. Over 1,300 people were killed during the clashes throughout the city. While there are innumerable possible causes for a conflict this large, I argue that there is a consistent rhetorical environment in which these events take place. To this end, I illustrate how Hindu nationalist hindutva discourse transforms otherwise unremarkable aspects of everyday life into instruments of violence. Hindutva, or “Hindu-ness”, is a discourse predicated on forcing an essential and ahistorical Hindu identity formed in opposition to other religions. Proponents of hindutva rhetoric, including the Modi administration, have accelerated a metaphorical and literal divide between religious communities by weaponizing Hindu notions of service, Sanskritizing spoken language, and militarizing Hindu ritual and iconography to engender violence.

MA (Master of Arts)
Hindu Nationalism, Bombay Riots, Colonialism in India, Shiv Sena
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