Between Conflict and Coexistence: A Case Study of Hindu-Muslim Relations in Rural North-Western India
The Partition of India upset the status quo causing riots, casualties and a colossal wave of migration that sent thousands of Muslims to their new homeland, Pakistan. Despite the mass violence and displacement, around 35 million Muslims eventually stayed in India. The tensed Hindu–Muslim relations in the aftermath of the Partition intensified a long-standing rivalry between the two groups and led to a feeling of insecurity among Muslims. Strained relations among Hindus and Muslims, which stay at the forefront of social concerns in contemporary India, remain a major cause of worry and call for an in-depth analysis. The article focuses on how the Hindu-Muslim relations developed throughout the modern history, especially during the times of the Indian Independence Movement. The goal of my research is to elucidate historical, social and political contexts of Hindu– Muslim relations in India and to shed a new light on this multifaceted issue. After presenting a historical perspective on Hindu-Muslim relations, the article provides a case study on both communities’ attitudes towards each other. Based on two months of fieldwork conducted in Northern villages of India in January and February 2018, I investigate the multiple stereotypes about Muslims prevailing among Hindu rural community. I address a question whether the character of this uneasy relation is closer to coexistence or a hidden conflict.