India: 'Hindu nationalist mob' attacks Muslim students during Ramadan prayers

India: 'Hindu nationalist mob' attacks Muslim students during Ramadan prayers
Fifteen Muslim students were attacked by a mob shouting Hindu nationalist slogans while praying on university grounds.
2 min read
18 March, 2024
Anti-Muslim violence has risen across India since Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014 (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)

Five international students were injured at India's Gujarat University this weekend after a Hindu nationalist mob attacked the group as they prayed at their on-campus hostel, after breaking their Ramadan.

The group of around 15 students were offering prayers on Saturday evening when a crowd entered and demanded they leave the hostel and pray at a mosque. 

The students said there is no mosque on the university campus in Ahmedabad, so they had no choice but to pray in the hostel. 

"They argued over the issue, assaulting them and hurling stones," GS Malik, the police commissioner of Ahmedabad city, told reporters at a press conference on Sunday

The mob also ransacked the students' rooms and pelted them with stones.

Students said as many as 250 people brandishing sticks and knives took part in the assault.

Videos shared online show the mob ransacking dormitory rooms and destroying students' motorcycles parked outside the dormitory, shouting Hindu religious slogans such as "Jai Shri Ram" ('Hail Lord Ram'). 

India's foreign ministry said local authorities would take "strict action" against perpetrators and five people have been arrested in connection with the attacks.

"We cannot survive like this," one African student who recorded the scene said in one of the videos.

"We came to India to study and now we’re being attacked just because it’s time for Ramadan and Muslims were praying."

The students came from Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and several African countries. 

Muslims across India have reported increased physical and verbal attacks by Hindu mobs since Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist, became prime minister of India in 2014.

Before his election, Modi was chief minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014, and was accused of inciting communal violence between Muslims and Hindus.

During his tenure a massacre took place in 2002 in which over 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed by rioters.

India has recorded many instances of anti-Muslim hate since the beginning of 2024.

Hindu mobs carrying saffron flags have harassed Muslims by dancing in front of a mosque in south-central India’s Telangana state and vandalised Muslim shops and buildings in Delhi.

In Bihar in northeast India, participants in a rally celebrating the inauguration of a Ram temple set a Muslim graveyard on fire.