The discussion on Hindu-Muslim conflict in India has revolved around religious or ethno-nationalist explanations. Employing the Gujarat riots of 2002 as a case study, I argue that dominant (Hindu) nationalism is linked to the ideas of “race” and has its roots in Brahminical notions of Aryanism and colonial racism. The categories of “foreign, hypermasculine, terrorist Other” widely prevalent in the characterisation of the Muslim Other, are not necessarily produced due to religious differences. Instead, social and cultural cleavages propagated by Hindu nationalists have their origins in race theory that accommodates purity, lineage, classification and hierarchy as part of the democratic discourses that pervade the modern nation-state. It focuses on how the state and non-state actors create discursive silences and normalise violence against minority communities by embodying emotions of fear, hate and anger among its participants to protect Hindu nationalism.