Rising incidents of hate crimes point to the growing power of the lumpen -Radha Kumar
The national bar against hate crime has been lowered, but resolute corrective action is possible
Once again, the first weeks of the Narendra Modi administration have been marked by hate crimes — two Muslim men beaten by mobs in Jharkhand and Mumbai, demanding they shout ‘Jai Shri Ram’, one so mercilessly that he died. Another man, a tribal, lynched in Tripura on suspicion of being a cattle thief. Most recently, 24 men accused of being cattle smugglers, beaten and made to shout ‘Gau Mata ki Jai’, in Rajasthan.
This time, however, there is a rising tide of concern, both domestically and internationally. Domestically, there have been a number of editorials, OpEds and talk shows calling for action; internationally, India has begun to feature prominently on a growing list of countries marked by hate crime, including hate speech in electoral campaigns.
A rising graph
Studies of hate crimes in India show that they have steadily risen over the past five years. Amnesty International India documented 721 such incidents between 2015 and 2018. Last year alone, it tracked 218 hate crimes, 142 of which were against Dalits, 50 against Muslims, 40 against women, and eight each against Christians, Adivasis, and transgenders. The more common hate crimes, they found, were honour killings — that have sadly occurred for decades — and ‘cow-related violence’, that was rare earlier but has become more frequent over the past five years.
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