Last week, the publishers of the Merriam-Webster dictionary announced that the Word of the Year for 2018 was “justice”. That doesn’t seem surprising. The quest for justice inspired many of the actors and events on which reported over the past year – starting right from January 1, 2018.

On New Year’s Day, lakhs of people gathered in Bhima Koregaon, a town outside Pune. They were there to commemorate the 200th anniversary of a battle in which British forces, with many Dalit soldiers in their ranks, had defeated the army of the casteist Peshwa-led Maratha Empire. To many Indians, the battle represents a small victory in the long war against caste injustice. But the participants in the commemoration were greeted with violence. reported on the attacks here and here.

Justice and the absence of it animate the most fundamental processes unfolding across the country. Over the past 12 months, we have reported extensively on agitations by farmers to secure a better deal (read here and here), on violations of rights in Kashmir and in the states of the North East, on the opposition to an Adani power plant in Jharkhand and on the exploitation of egg donors, among other things.

The urge to secure justice was the motive force of the #MeToo Movement that erupted in October.’s reports on the inadequacies of legal mechanisms intended to secure women’s rights and on the institutional failures that enabled sexual harassment can be read here. Other campaigns for gender justice have been playing out in Kerala, from where we have highlighted the debate around women devotees being allowed into the Sabarimala temple and also a Catholic nun’s struggles after she accused a bishop of raping her.

Chillingly, the desire to mete out instant justice was also a characteristic of 2018, as mobs across the country lynched people suspected of abducting children to harvest their organs. We reported on lynchings in places as far removed as Maharashtra’s Dhule and Assam’s Karbi Anglong. Cow vigilantes in North India were also driven by the same impulse. The most recent case occurred in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr, from where we reported on the slapdash police case against Muslim men accused of slaughtering cows, sparking riots that resulted in the murder of a police inspector. Read the reports here and here.

In December, it all came full circle. A video shot by’s Mridula Chari in Bhima Koregaon in January of a mob burning down an eatery became the basis for the police to identify and file a case against five of the suspected arsonists.

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