The government might not have officially released the religious data of Census 2011, but in a presentation before an international delegation in the United States it said that over 180 million Muslims were living in India, constituting 14.88 per cent of the total population. It also asserted that despite a large Muslim population in India, there was hardly any case of the community members joining violent pan-Islamic groups.
Representing India at the White House hosted Summit to Counter Violent Extremism last week, Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) chief RN Ravi told a delegation, where representatives from 60 countries were present, that “the usual alienation of minorities is not valid in the Indian context. Going by the usual definition of minority, their population is over 260 million i.e over 21 per cent of India’s population. There are over 180 million Muslims in India.”
“Terrorism that India faces has their source often outside the country,” he pointed out.
The data given by the government at an international platform assumes significance after US President Barack Obama, during his India visit, said: “India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along the lines of religious faith, as long as it is not splintered along any lines, and it is unified as one nation.”
Due to various political considerations, the religious data of Census 2011 were never released by the UPA government. When the NDA government came to power, they decided to release the religious data, which still has not been done. The Indian Express reported on January 24 that Hindus comprised 78.35 per cent of the total population of 121.05 crore, compared with 80.45 per cent of the total population in 2001. In absolute terms, Muslim population increased 24.4 per cent to 17.18 crore from 13.8 crore during 2001-11. Muslims were 13.4 per cent of the total population in 2001.
Ravi also told the delegation: “The recently held elections in Jammu and Kashmir – a Muslim majority state of the Indian Union – in which over 65 per cent electorate peacefully cast their votes is a testimony of its success story.”
He further said, “India’s response to violent extremism is calibrated in a way that prevents disproportionate use of force by the state.”
On the other hand, one of the civil society representatives from Pakistan told the delegation: “At least 26 terrorist organisations operating in Pakistan like Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Taliban, Haqqani network had people in leadership roles who came from madrasa background. The government had to go into the root cause of this and reform madrasa education.”