Muslims in India’s Tripura remain in fear after mosques targeted

Locals allege more than a dozen mosques were vandalized in the northeastern state in apparent retaliation to anti-Hindu violence in Bangladesh.

Tripura, India – Liton Miya is still in a state of shock. It was 10 pm on October 23 when the 35-year-old heard some villagers scream in panic. As he rushed out along with others, a wooden bier and some prayer mats in the courtyard of the local mosque were on fire. We found that the attackers had poured kerosene inside the mosque as well. But before any more damage could happen, the village had woken up and the attackers fled,” Miya said outside the small tin shack which serves as a mosque and traditional religious school in a quiet corner of Naraura village in Sipahijila district of Tripura state in northeastern India. Naraura is less than 50km (31 miles) from Comilla in neighboring Bangladesh, where a photo of the Quran placed on an idol of a Hindu deity during the Durga Puja festival triggered violence across the Muslim-majority country, killing six people, including two Hindu men.

In apparent retaliation to the deadly violence in Bangladesh, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council or VHP), and other local groups took out protest rallies in Tripura and allegedly attacked Muslims and their religious places, including mosques.

The VHP is affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological fountainhead of India’s Hindu supremacist groups which seeks to convert India into an ethnic Hindu state. Most top leaders of India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, started their political careers as RSS workers.

Tripura, a remote state dominated by Bengali-speaking Hindus, is currently governed by Modi’s BJP. Muslims form about nine percent of its 3.7 million population.

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