The violence which engulfed Mumbai was horrific but it is basically simply another chapter in the turmoil which has plagued India since it was freed from British rule. The moment of independence was marked by strife which resulted in the killing of hundreds of thousands as Muslims an Hindus clashed with one another. The clash over Kashmir has sparked additional conflict and deaths as both sides insist they have a claim to an area that historically was mainly Muslim. In 1992, a mob of Hindu extremists destroyed a Mughal era mosque which resulted in fighting that took over 2,000 lives. A year later, terrorists struck back by killing over 200 Hindus. In 2002, the state of Gujarat witnessed a massacre of over 1,000 Muslims by Hindu mobs.
India is the world’s largest and among the most successful democracies but it has not been able to shake loose from extremists from both Hindu and Muslim factions. Perhaps, it is time for Muslim and Hindu clerics to united in the struggle to restore peace to all areas of the country. Perhaps, it is time for both Indian and Pakistan school systems to work on peace education and religious tolerance programs.