Unfortunately India has had more than enough of its share of horrendous mass killing in its long spanning history.  For many of us, learning about them is a way of knowing the past mistakes and not committing those mistakes again. Now take a look at the following list that is in earliest to most recent order of events.

1. Jallianwala Bagh Massacre (1919)



Death – 5,600

On a day of curfew, a crowd of Baishakhi pilgrims and some protestors (demanding the release of two nationalist leaders) gathered together in the Jallianwala Bagh garden in Amritsar, Punjab. All of a sudden British Indian Army troop storm into the premise and to everyone’s disbelief opened fire on unarmed nonviolent folks. Under Reginald Dyer’s order for 10 long minutes bullets went flying into people’s flesh. This incident had stunned the world but many, who approved of the British Raj in India, hailed Dyer as a hero.


2. Moplah Rebellion (1922)



Death – 2,337 to 10,000

A clash occurred between the Mappila Muslims and the British authorities and Hindus that ultimately caused permanent migration of over 1,00,000 Hindus. Today many believe that instead of being a religious issue, the rebellion was more of an up-rise against British authorities and was quiet a significant event during the time.


3. Calcutta Riots (1946)



Death – 5,000 to 10,000

On the tensed morning of 16th August, the largest gathering of Muslims sat at the Maidan. A riot was expected as a number of them were armed with iron bars and bamboo sticks. When the disorder broke out a number of shops were looted, houses were set on fire and people were dragged out of building and slaughtered. The riot was communal in nature and is perhaps the darkest spot in the history of the City of Joy.


4. Bihar Massacre (30 October – 7 November 1946)



Death – 2,000 to 30,000

This large-scale massacre in Bihar actually made the Partition of India inevitable. Several serious instances of violence broke out at various places. Police stayed largely aloof as the devastation engulfed village after village until a fairly large area was covered with the wails of people who had lost their dear ones.


5. Partition Of India (1947)



Death – 10,00,000 on both sides

The partition that lead to the creation of Dominion of Pakistan (which later split into Pakistan and Bangladesh) and the Union of India (later known as Republic of India) saw one of the largest number of deaths in human history. And not just that, the partition was also the largest mass migrations the world had ever seen.


6. Hyderabad Massacre (1948)



Death – 27000 to 40,000

This is another shameful communal violence that only got worse when the Nizam encouraged the Razakar Islamic militia to reign terror over common people. The atrocities that the poor victims of this violence faced ranged from looting to sexual assault.


7. Gujarat Riots (1969)



Death – 660

Following the Partition, the Gujarat Riots of 1969 is the most bloody and destructive communal violence to have occurred. It involved large scale killing, looting and general destruction. Later the Commission of Enquiry had raised question regarding the police’s role in the riot.


8. Moradabad Riots (1980)



Death – officially 400; unofficially 2500

The riot took place in the city of Moradabad and although initially it was between the local Muslims and police, later it became communal. This lead to a series of murder, looting and arson. As many as 2500 lives were lost but the Government of India paid a compensation for only 400 deaths. Following the riot the city’s brassware industry recorded a sharp decline.


9. Nellie Massacre (1983)



Death – officially 2,191; unofficially 5,000

The Nellie Massacre occurred in Assam and was political by nature. Today it’s regarded as one of the worst pogroms since the World War II. Within a stretch of 6 hours 14 villages were engulfed into this violence. The massacre was carried out largely within the indigenous and lower castes communities.


10. 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots



Death – 8,000 -10,000

In a response to the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her bodyguards sporadic violence spread across the country. A number of newspaper houses and human right organisations believed that rather than being spontaneous, the violence was calculated and organised. In 2011, the Human Rights Watch had reported that the Indian Government is ‘yet to prosecute the people behind the mass killing’.


11. Bhagalpur Riot (1989)



Death – 1,247

The Bhagalpur riots stretched for two months covering the Bhagalpur city as well as 250 villages around it. Besides a thousand people losing their lives, the riot led to the displacement of 50,000 Muslims from their ancestral homes. The Bhagalpur is considered one of the most worst communal riots ever.


12. Bombay Riots (December 1992 – January 1993)



Death – 900

The Bombay riots had occurred as a reaction to 1992 Babri Masjid Demolition. The initial protests were peaceful but many suggest that it was the insensitive approach of the police while handling the mob lead to graver consequence. However some experts opine that the violence was pre-planned.


13. Gujarat Riots (2002)



Death – 1,044; Injured – 2,500; Missing – 233

Needless to say, one of the worst inter-communal violence India has ever seen. It continued for over 3 days and led to further outbreaks of massacre and violence in the next three months.  Officially termed as a communalist riot many believe that it was premeditated violence.


14. Mumbai Massacre (2008)



Death – 164; Injured – 308

One of the most terrifying terrorist attacks in the recent past – the 2008 Mumbai Attack was planned and carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba. Eight simultaneous attacks had occurred throughout the city which led to India’s National Security Guards (NSG) and other security groups coming in and bravely saving the day.


15. Assam Violence (2012)



Death – 77; Missing – 11

This aggression between the indigenous Bodos and Bengali-speaking Muslims has resulted in 400,000 people from 40 villages running for shelter in 270 relief camps.

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