On August 5, a year after India’s only Muslim-majority state of Kashmir was stripped of its autonomy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation for the contentious Ram Temple in Ayodhya City. The site of a historic 16th century mosque destroyed by Hindu extremists in 1992 had sparked violent communal riots across India, where over 2,000 people were killed. While Modi’s ground-breaking ceremony galvanized militant nationalists’ project to radicalize Hindu India, what we don't know is how some former Hindu nationalists involved with the 1992 carnage have radically turned away from militant religiosity.
Over the last three decades, they have worked on restoring solidarity in India’s rural and urban spaces, helped build mosques across India, and set up atheist ashrams. While the COVID-19 pandemic has been used to vilify religious minorities across Asia, the former nationalists have worked toward changing the status quo in a better direction, and for a more inclusive society.
Priyadarshini Sen's project focuses on the former nationalists’ faith trajectories. She will explore how their rejection of religious polarization and prejudices have not only led to a reinvention of their own identities but also of the communities they serve. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, their works broke new ground in a world where militant nationalism is on the rise.