Iconic Taj Mahal Gate Vandalized by Radical Hindu Group; Rise in Religion-Based Hate Crime

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Indian govt admits rise in religion-based hate crime

JUN 13, 2018 — Members of a radical Hindu group vandalized gates of the iconic Taj Mahal on Sunday arguing that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was blocking entry to a 400-year-old Shiva temple.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists were seen carrying hammers and iron rods to target the western entrance to the UNESCO World Heritage site, a video footage that went viral on social media showed.

VHP aactivists chanted slogans against the authorities and were dissatisfied with the police’s explanation that an alternate path to the Siddheshwar Mahadev Temple was available. The activists removed a turnstile gate which was installed by the ASI, report Indian Express.

VHP members alleged that the gate entrance blocks the way to a 400-year old Shiva temple. Earlier this year, a team of VHP members had also tried to perform a ‘Shiv aarti ceremony’ inside the premises of the Taj Mahal in Agra, UP.

An FIR was registered against five VHP members and another 20-25 unidentified individuals for rioting, assault and use of criminal force against a public servant after the ASI filed a complaint with the police.

According to VHP’s Ravi Dubey, the group was forced to take this step because the ASI was removing all elements of Hindu culture in and around the monument.

VHP activists pose for a photo at the Taj Mahal

Indian govt admits rise in religion-based hate crime

Statistics show a surge in religion-based hate crimes in India since Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, according to the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) report in February.

The statistics, revealed on Feb. 6, confirm a long-standing allegation by rights groups that the situation is worsening.

In 2017, 111 persons were killed and at least 2,384 injured in 822 cases of sectarian violence, the highest figure in the past three years.

In 2016, 86 persons were killed and 2,321 injured in 703 incidents of religion-based violence.

India’s Parliament was told that the highest number of sectarian incidents was reported in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, which has 200 million people, some 40 million of them Muslims.

The state, where the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept to power in last year’s provincial elections, witnessed 195 incidents of religion-based violence in 2017, claiming 44 lives and injuring 452 people.

Rights groups and civil society have been accusing the BJP, which leads the federal coalition government, of fanning the flames of intolerance. They also allege the administration is supportive of Hindu groups’ violence against religious minorities like Muslims and Christians in its desire to make India a Hindu-only state.

Some BJP leaders’ active promotion of Hindu nationalism resulted in the spike in communal violence in India since it came to power in 2014, says a report by the Mumbai-based Center for Study of Society and Secularism.

A video clip that went viral on Feb. 7 shows a young man slapping a middle-aged Muslim man more than 25 times, asking him to say “Jai Shri Ram” (hail lord Ram).

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