What’s Behind India’s Lynch Attacks: A Narrative

Written by CJP Team | Published on: October 17, 2017
Hate inspired violence against minorities has become increasingly common across India over the last few years and the audacity with which they are conducted suggests a complete absence of fear of consequences. These hate crimes range from lynching and mob violence to violence inflicted by vigilantes, sexual assault and even outright murder. Muslims and Dalits have borne the brunt of a large chunk of this violence. The trigger is either the suspected consumption of beef or even the whiff of an interfaith or inter-caste relationship.

Mob Lynching
Image: Hindustan Times

This prompted Citizens Against Hate, a Delhi based group dedicated to fostering cordial relations between people from diverse backgrounds, to conduct a detailed study of these acts of violence. The study titled Lynching Without End: Report of Fact Finding into Religiously Motivated Vigilante Violence in India, looks at the circumstances leading to the violence, tries to identify the perpetrators and their network as well as delves into the aftermath of each crime, examining the first response of law enforcement authorities, subsequent investigation and prosecution of the case.The report examines 24 recent cases of Vigilante violence spread predominantly across Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal. This covers the death of 34 people and the rape of two. Their findings are disturbing.
Increase in Violence against Muslims
The study found that victims of cow vigilantism are predominantly backward caste Muslims identifying as Qureishi, Meo, Gujjar and Ansari i.e people from communities traditionally engaged in animal husbandry, dairy farming and meat supply. Cases examined include Mohammed Akhlaq who was killed on suspicion of consuming beef, Alimuddin Ansari who was mercilessly beaten to death on a busy road in Ramgarh town in Jharkhand and Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer who was lynched by a mob in Alwar in Rajasthan on suspicion of being a cattle smuggler.

But Muslims have also been targeted for reasons not related to cow vigilantism. These include cases like that of 16 year old Junaid who was stabbed to death on a Delhi-Mathura train and Pune techie MohsinShaikh who was allegedly killed by members of a right wing extremist group for allegedly circulating derogatory pictures of Shivaji and Bal Thackeray on social media.

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