On Monday, November 15, a group of right-wing Hindus set fire to Salman Khurshid’s house in Satkhol Village, near the Nainital district in the Uttarakhand state. In October, Khurshid, the former Foreign Minister of India, published a book where he compares extremist Hindutva groups to Islamist groups like ISIS and Boko Haram.
Jagdish Chandra, chief of police said, 20 hardline Hindus gathered outside Khurshid’s house. “They shouted slogans, threw stones, broke several windows, ransacked, and set fire to a door,” Chandra said. The group also burned an effigy of Khurshid and threatened the daughter-in-law of the house’s caretaker.
The 68-year old former Foreign Minister’s book, Sunrise over Ayodhya: Nationhood in Our Times, was published on October 25, 2021. The book centers around the Ayodhya judgment, when India’s Supreme Court unanimously granted rights for constructing a Ram Temple in place of a demolished mosque.
As a Muslim politician in a Hindu-majority India, Khurshid is a member of the opposition Indian National Congress party. Khurshid espouses centrist views and promotes moderate and inclusive political platforms.
In an Indian Express editorial, Kurshid provided insight regarding his book, saying he“sought to support and endorse the Ayodhya judgment.” “despite many of my legal colleagues having doubted its legal correctness,” he added. Kurshid also emphasized that his goal is to “promote religious harmony between Hindus and Muslims,” using the Ayodhya judgment as a means to “find closure on the unpleasant past and look forward to a shared future.”
But Hindus with extreme views insist that his book is a political ploy. Detractors left opposing commentaries on online review boards, calling the book propaganda published before the Uttar Pradesh elections to undermine the Bharatiya Janata Party.
In a tweet, Khurshid responded to the attack in his house, saying, “shame is too ineffective a word,” to describe the perpetrators. “Am I still wrong to say this cannot be Hinduism?” Khurshid added.
— Salman Khurshid (@salman7khurshid) November 15, 2021
Days after the attack, four suspects linked to the attack were arrested on Thursday, November 18. Nilesh Anand Bharne, the deputy inspector general, said they recovered a 32 caliber pistol and magazines from one of the suspects.
Khurshid, responding to the motives of the attack on his house, said, “I have not called these guys terrorists; I have just said they are similar in distorting religion.” Hindutva has “pushed aside Sanatan Dharma and Hinduism,” he added.