Hindu extremism in India

This item appears on page 15 of the December 2015 issue.

An Australian tourist in the city of Bangalore in southwestern India claimed that a group of Hindu political activists, members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), confronted him on Oct. 20 over a Hindu tattoo on his leg, threatening to skin his leg to remove the tattoo. The tourist was later taken into police protection, where he says he was forced to write a letter of apology.

In late September and early October 2015, three Muslims in Uttar Pradesh state, in the north, were killed in separate incidents by Hindu mobs due to rumors that they were eating beef. 

In the northern Capital Territory of Delhi on Oct. 27, police raided the cafeteria in a guest house owned by the Indian state of Kerala after a Hindu group associated with the BJP complained that beef was being served there. The dishes actually contained only buffalo. Following the incident, officials in Kerala made a complaint against police.

The cow is sacred to Hindus, and eating beef is considered taboo, although it is not against the law in India. Butchering cows is illegal in some states and in Delhi but not nationwide. 

Some Indian politicians and political analysts have accused the BJP of being a Hindu nationalist organization and encouraging violence against minorities. After the Muslim deaths, at least one member of the BJP publicly called for beef eaters to be executed.