Hate crimes motivated by religious bias shot up to a decade-high of 93 in 2018, according to a multi-organisation project led by FactChecker.in.
In 2018, 30 people were killed in such attacks – the most since 2009, when the project began tracking hate crimes – and at least 305 were injured. Eighteen victims were Muslim, 10 were Hindu and two were Christian. While there were almost as many deaths in 2017 (29), there were twice as many non-fatal injuries this year.
Since 2009, 100 persons – including 65 Muslims, 27 Hindus and four Christians – have been killed in such attacks.
Most attacks in 2018 – 27 – occurred in Uttar Pradesh, where a Bharatiya Janata Party government led by Adityanath is in power, followed by Bihar, where 10 such attacks were reported. A coalition of the BJP and Janata Dal (United) runs the government in Bihar.
Rajasthan – under a BJP government at the time – Gujarat, led by the BJP, and Karnataka, where a coalition government of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) is in power, followed with seven incidents each. These attacks resulted in four deaths each in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, and three deaths each in Karnataka and BJP-run Jharkhand.
Minorities were at the receiving end in 75% of the attacks in 2018 in which the religion of the victims was known, according to Factchecker.in. Sixty percent of the victims were Muslim while 14% were Christian.
Of the 63 attacks in 2018 in which the religion of alleged perpetrators was known, the data showed that 45 attacks, or 71%, were allegedly carried out by Hindus while Muslims were the suspected attackers in 17 incidents (27%).
Since 2009, Muslims have been the victims in 66% of such attacks. Christians, who account for 2% of the population, were victims in 17% cases, while Hindus, who account for 80% of the population, were victims in 16% of the incidents.
One in four incidents of hate crime sparked by religious bias in 2018 was a communal clash, FactChecker.in reported. Interfaith relationships were the pretext of attack in 17% of the cases, and 15% of the attacks were justified by the perpetrators as means to protect cows.
FactChecker.in runs the Hate Crime Watch project in collaboration with Aman Biradari, a people’s campaign for secularism and justice and compassion, and public-interest journalism and non-profit organisation NewsClick.in.
“Hate Crime Watch does not aspire to be an exhaustive record of all hate crimes in the country,” the website said. “We are merely hoping to document the rising incidence, and any related patterns that emerge, so that the state takes notice and begins documenting such crimes.”