Irfan Engineer and Neha Dabhade
The previous section elaborated on structural violence. This section will focus on physical violence and the prominent trends emerging from 2022.
According to the monitoring by CSSS of Mumbai editions of three newspapers- The Hindu, Indian Express and Times of India, India witnessed 41 communal riots in the year 2022. This is against the 20 communal riots witnessed in 2021 as per the monitoring of CSSS. This amounts to nearly double the incidents of communal riots as compared to the last year. However, the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) figures are usually higher since it has access to more comprehensive data. According to NCRB data, a total of 378 cases of communal riots were registered in 2021, 857 in 2020, 438 in 2019, 512 in 2018 and 723 in 2017 against 20 in 2021, 10 in 2020, 25 in 2019, 38 in 2018 and 43 in 2017 as per CSSS monitoring (Indian Express, 2022).
The 41 communal riots in 2022 claimed seven lives in comparison to one life in 2021. Of the seven dead, two were Muslims, one Hindu and four unidentified. 334 were reportedly injured.
In the 41 communal riots, according to CSSS monitoring from the above mentioned newspapers, a total of 1279 arrests were made. Out of 1279 arrested, 163 were Muslims, 7 were Hindus and 1109 were unidentified. Here, two aspects are noteworthy. Firstly, that the police tend to under-reports arrests. Thus, the number of 1279 may be on the lesser side and there might be substantially higher number of arrests. Another aspect is that three newspapers limit the scope of the data available. CSSS during the fact-finding missions to Khargone, Khambhat and Himmatnagar found from the ground and lawyers that the number of arrests during these riots were very high. For instance, in Khargone alone, the police arrested approximately 80 persons, most of them Muslims. In Himmatnagar and Khambhat, all together over 60 Muslims were arrested in addition to a few Hindus. In Uttar Pradesh, after the protests over the controversial comments of Nupur Sharma, according to the police data, 350 were arrested in a span of a few days. Communal riots took place in Prayagraj and Kanpur after the protests. Of the 350 people arrested, 92 are from Prayagraj, 84 from Saharanpur, 55 from Hathras, 41 from Ambedkarnagar, 40 from Moradabad, 20 from Firozabad, seven from Lakhimpur Kheri, six from Aligarh and five from Jalaun (New Indian Express, 2022). In most cases after communal riots, a large number of persons in the FIR are mentioned as unidentified which is used as an opportunity to arbitrarily detain and arrest large number of Muslims for “investigation”.
In these riots, the Muslims ironically also faced high damages with their properties being looted, vandalized, and torched. The administration in addition demolished large number of properties owned by the Muslims after some riots. In states like UP and MP, the administration pursued cases to recover damages from Muslims alone. Collectively, these actions as well as the above numbers of arrests indicate towards double victimization of Muslims during communal riots. They suffer heavy damages in targeted violence and then are also penalized and criminalized by the state for the same violence. This is also a pattern that is observed in the past years in communal riots and continued in 2022.
There was a palpable shift in the way communal riots unfolded in 2022 compared to the previous years. Prominent trends were the use of religious festivals and related “yatras” or processions to target the Muslims, use of bulldozers by state as “collective punishment” inflicted on the Muslim community and changing nature of state in communal riots.
- Change in the triggers- Religious festivals and the aggressive stand of the Hindu right wing organizations cause of most of the communal riots in 2022:
Out of the total 41 communal riots, 19 were related to religious festivals, pointing towards how religious festivals are used as masquerades to plan communal riots. Earlier, communal riots did take place on religious festivals but they were different in nature. The triggers were spontaneous though the institutionalized riot system (IRS) took over after it was triggered. Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer explains these triggers as macro and micro. Local factors including conflicts between communities having economic reasons were understood as micro factors. Macro factors are larger factors including political ideology and myths or stereotypes against communities. In 2022, local factors yielded minimum influence in fomenting communal riots. Majority of the communal riots can be attributed to the hegemony of the Hindu right wing organizations wanting to demonstrate their superiority and domination by organizing “shobha yatra”, ‘Hanuman Jayanti’ or ‘Ram Navami’ processions widely and political in nature- a distinction from the past.
In the past few years especially from 2020, the right wing organizations and BJP party members are organizing processions under the garb of religion and insisting on going into Muslim majority areas and raising inflammatory slogans targeting and humiliating the Muslim community. When the stone pelting ensued, the Muslims are targeted by the state by terming them as ‘rioters’ and ‘stone pelters’ and razed down their properties using bulldozers. In 2020, communal riots took place in Ujjain where the Bajrang Dal and other Hindu right wing organizations went to Begumbaug area of Ujjain and raised objectionable slogans. After the stone pelting ensued, the local administration razed down a two storey building belonging to a Muslim owner though the stones were pelted from a neighbouring house belonging to a Hindu owner. In 2021, communal rights took place in Dhar in Madhya Pradesh where Hindu right wing organizations organized ‘Shourya Yatra’ procession.
Ram Navami Processions:
12 incidents out of 19 were related to Ram Navami alone- three incidents in Himmatnagar, Khambhat and Gandhinagar in Gujarat, three incidents in Madhya Pradesh- one in Khargone city, one in Khargone rural and one in Sendhwa, three in Jharkhand- one in Koderma, one in Bokaro and one in Lohardaga. One incident took place in Mumbai in Maharashtra, one in Kolar in Karnataka and lastly in Howrah in West Bengal.
In Khambhat, Gujarat, riots broke out in Shakarpur area on 10th April when the procession organized by Hindu right wing organizations was in front of a mosque. Argument took place between some members of the procession and Muslim members of the area. Stone pelting ensued. The mob vandalized the houses mostly belonging to Muslims. One 65 year old Hindu man lost his life after being hit by a stone. The local administration too demolished small stalls and other properties belonging to Muslims. The explanation provided for the demolition was that the properties were “illegal” and used as a façade to pelt stones on the processions.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal organized procession on Ram Navami in Himmatnagar. The procession entered Ashraf Nagar, a Muslim-dominated area. When Muslims watched the passing procession from their terraces, slurs were reportedly exchanged and the Hindus accused the Muslims of mocking their festivities. This snowballed into a violent face-off. Subsequently, incidents of burning vehicles, stone pelting and vandalism of homes and businesses were widely reported (Aswani, 2022).
Communal riots broke out in Khargone, Madhya Pradesh on 10th April, when Ram Navami procession was organized by Hindu rightwing groups under the name of ‘Gauraksha Samiti’. The procession was given permission only till 5pm but it never left the area outside talab chowk mosque where the members of the procession had gathered by 5pm. Some members of procession raised objectionable slogans and displayed tableaus from the controversial film The Kashmir Files, with the slogan ‘Jago Hindu jago (Wake up, Hindus). Stone pelting took place subsequently. As per the police, over 26 houses, 12 vehicles, five shops, a godown and several religious places were either vandalized or were set on fire. One 23 year old Ibris Khan was killed in the stone pelting. The local administration demolished the properties belonging mostly to the Muslims claiming them to be illegal (Kakvi, The Wire, 2022).
Communal riots broke out in Sendhwa in Barwani district of Madhya Pradesh after a few people allegedly threw stones at a Ram Navami procession, resulting in a clash in which two-wheelers were set on fire. On the basis of a complaint from a man whose bike was burnt, the police booked Shahbaaz Sheikh, Fakru Mansuri and Rauf Sheikh, all residents of Jogwara, for rioting and arson. Six cases were registered and 84 rioters arrested. The district administration and police demolished Shahbaaz’s house in Jogwara area (Hindustan Times, 2022).
Communal riots took place during the Ram navami Procession in Hirahi village in Lohardaga at around 5.30 pm on 10th April claiming one life and leaving four others injured. The clashes broke out after a group started pelting stones at the crowd during the Ramnavami procession in the area. More than a dozen motorcycles and a pickup van were set on fire following which; two houses were also set ablaze at Bhogta Garden Mela. Sub-Divisional Officer Arvind Kumar Lal claimed “there are sleeper cells that have emerged recently who are trying to disrupt the harmony of the place.” As many as 14 FIRs were registered and eight persons arrested (New Indian Express, 2022). In Koderma district’s Kolgarma village, Hindus participating in a similar Ram Navami procession entered a Muslim neighbourhood, ransacked a mosque and assaulted local residents, including women. In Bokaro, it was alleged that some youngsters were on their way to join a Ram Navami procession on a bike when they got into a fight with a group and were attacked with stones by them.
In Howrah, West Bengal, processions on Ram Navami were organized by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Durga Vahini. The members of the procession delivered provocative speeches and stone pelting ensued in Howrah’s Shibpur. Local police resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the crowd, but as the situation got worse, the Rapid Action Force had to be called in to bring the situation under control (Dutta, 2022).
On 8th April, communal riots took place in Mulbagal area in Kolar district of Karnataka. Stones were pelted on Ram Navami ‘shobha yatra’. Five people were detained and prohibitory orders enforced. Windshields of at least two cars got damaged in the incident, besides minor injuries to some youths. A two-wheeler was also set ablaze (Hindustan Times, 2022).
On 10th April, communal riot took place in Mankhurd, Mumbai on Ram Navami. Two people suffered minor injuries and 20 to 25 vehicles were vandalised after minor flare up between two communities. The Mankhurd police have registered a FIR against 25 members of both groups of hurting religious sentiments and arrested seven people.
Other religious festivals
In Khaggu Sarai area of Sambhal in Uttar Pradesh, some people threw colour on a mosque during a Holi procession on 18th March. Subsequently stone pelting ensued. The police arrived and ensured safe passage for the procession. The mosque was cleaned by local people and police and the police claimed that there was peace in the area (The Print, 2022). In another incident on Holi in Uttar Pradesh, communal riot broke out in Shamli when two groups clashed while playing holi. Several people were injured, including six who were hospitalized in serious condition, in the clash in which lathis, iron rods and brick bats were used. 26 persons were arrested (New Indian Express, 2022).
Communal riots took place in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh during a procession of Hanuman Jayanti on 16th April. In a clash that took place near a religious place, stone pelting ensued injuring 10 people. According to the police, devotional songs were being played during the procession while crossing a religious place. Police told procession leaders to stop playing the songs as prayers were going on nearby. The procession organisers complied, but as soon as they crossed over, the songs resumed, which irked members of another group who started hurling stones at the procession (Indian Express, 2022). In Jahangirpuri in Delhi, Bajrang Dal had organized a ‘shobha yatra’ on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti. The members of the procession were waving saffron flags in front of the mosque which led to clashes between the two communities. The procession had already made the rounds of the mosque twice and the locals objected to the third round according to a fact finding. 22 persons were arrested- most of them Muslims (Jain & Pal, 2022). Subsequently, properties belonging to Muslims in Jahangirpuri were demolished the following day alleging they were “illegal”. In another incident, on 16th April, communal riots broke out in Roorkee village during a procession on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti. Muslim raised objections over a song being played on the loudspeaker mounted on a vehicle when it was passing a local mosque. Stone pelting ensued. One car, two motorcycles and a hut was set on fire. Ten persons including a sub inspector were injured. Police registered a complaint against 12 identified and 40 unidentified persons. 11 persons were arrested (Times of India, 2022).
Hindu New Year:
On 2nd April 2022, the bike rally was taken out by Hindu outfits in Karauli city of Rajasthan, on the occasion of Nav Samvatsar, the first day of the New Year under the Hindu calendar. When the procession reached near a mosque, some miscreants pelted stones on them. This resulted in stone pelting and arson by the other side too in which a few two-wheelers and shops were torched. 40 people sustained injuries. 6 shops were set ablaze. Police arrested 13 people for rioting, assault and for hurting the sentiments of a community. 18 were arrested for disturbing peace.
On April 17, 2022 communal clashes broke out between two groups on the occasion of the Kalash Yatra. Around 500 people participated in the Kalash yatra at Shiv temple in Arey in Goregaon. The procession was passing a nearby the Buddha Vihar. 100 people were present in Buddha Vihar at that time. People from Buddha Vihar took objection to the people in the procession chanting loudly and dancing in their premises. That resulted in kicks and blows on each other and stone pelting. 25 persons were arrested (Times of India, 2022).
Protests over comments made by Nupur Sharma:
Muslims protested against the derogatory comments made by BJP spokesperson, Nupur Sharma against Prophet Mohammad. In some of the protests, there were reportedly clashes between the Muslims and the police. In the state of Uttar Pradesh, the protests in Kanpur and Prayagraj turned violent. In Kanpur, some members of the Muslim community had called for shutting of shops on the day of the protest on 3rd June in Nai Sadak and Yateemkhana areas but the other community objected. Stones were pelted. Three FIRs have been lodged in the case in which 40 people have been charged with rioting and 1,000 others have been mentioned as unidentified. Serious sections of IPC including 148, 149, 153, 307, 323, 336, 504, 507 and section 7 of the Criminal Amendment Act have been invoked in the FIRs. The police Hayat Zafar Hashmi and three others were arrested (Kumar, 2022). The administration used demolitions as a form of collective punishment in Kanpur to demolish the properties of Muslims. “Not only those involved in the violence are being identified with the help of video clips of the incident, those who conspired in the act will also not be let off. As many as 18 people have been arrested. The accused and the conspirators will be booked under the Gangsters Act and their properties will be seized or demolished” said Prashant Kumar, ADG, Law and Order (Siddiqui, 2022). In Prayagraj, the protestors pelted stones at police on 9th June. Some motorcycles and carts were set on fire and an attempt was made to set ablaze a police vehicle. Police used tear gas and lathis to disperse mobs (NDTV, 2022).
In Ranchi, Jharkhand, on 10th June protests were organized against the comments of Nupur Sharma. The police fired in the air to disperse the crowd and stone pelting too took place. In the violence, two protestors died from bullet injuries. Ranchi SSP Surendra Jha, another officer, and a policeman too sustained injuries (Indian Express, 2022). In Howrah, West Bengal, the protestors clashed with police during the protests on 10th June. The protests turned violent for two consecutive days. The police resorted to throwing of tear shell gas to disperse the mob. The administration has imposed prohibitory orders till June 15. Internet services also remained suspended across the district till June 13 (Nair, 2022).
In Hazaribagh, Jharkhand, communal riots broke out after the death of Rakesh Kumar Pandey (17) in February. Pandey had participated in the Saraswati puja idol immersion. During a scuffle, he was assaulted. When his body was found, a mob burnt down vehicles and pelted stones. Internet services were debarred in the district as also in Koderma, Giridih, Chatra, Ramgarh and Bokaro for some time to prevent rumour-mongering. FIR was lodged against 27 persons besides many unknown people and four Muslims were arrested. Prohibitory orders under section 144 were imposed in Barhi.
In Navsari, Gujarat, communal riots took place after communal tensions developed between two groups related to playing a cricket match. The matter escalated and members from both communities gathered and attacked each other with deadly weapons. In the clash that ensued, a 65-year-old man died. Seven people were arrested. In another incident in Vadodara in Gujarat in April, according to the police, a minor accident led to stone pelting and communal riots in Raopura area of Vadodara. The police claimed that the culprits are criminals with past records (Times of India, 2022). In another incident in Vadodara, on 3rd October, clash took place between two communities in a vegetable market in Savli after the Muslim community tied religious flags on poles as their festival was approaching. There was a temple close to the poles where the flags were tied. Violence broke out when a group of Hindu members went to complain how their religious feelings were hurt due to the flags. The police claimed that after the FIR was filed, accused from both communities were arrested. In total 40 persons were arrested (India Today, 2022). In Vadodara, on 24th October, a clash took place between two communities over bursting of firecrackers on Diwali in communally sensitive Panigate area. The police reported that rocket bombs were hurled by the members of the two communities on each other and a motorcycle caught on fire. The police claimed that it detained 19 accused from both the communities including a person who allegedly hurled a petrol bomb on the police (Times of India, 2022)
In Undhela village in Gujarat’s Kheda district, a group of Muslim men allegedly attacked a garba site near a mosque on the night of October 3.Kheda Superintendent of Police Rajesh Gadhiya said that the sarpanch of the village had organized a garba on a plot of ground that was close to both a temple and a mosque. When Muslims objected, the sarpanch said the function would end in 45 minutes or so. Gadhiya claimed that the Muslims didn’t agree to the event and pelted stones at the garba attendees. The next day, the Muslims allegedly involved in the incident were dragged out in public, tied to a pole and flogged by the police while a crowd cheered them on. Videos of the flogging show the men being asked to apologize to the public. They are then led into the Kheda police bus, still being beaten. 13 people were arrested for rioting, unlawful assembly and attempt to murder in relation to the communal riot. No case was filed for the flogging and the police claimed they were enquiring into the incident (Iyer, Scroll.in, 2022)
A mob threw stones at police and attacked a constable with a sword in the Bhim town of Rajsamand district, Rajasthan when police lobbed teargas shells to prevent them from marching towards a mosque on 28th June, a day after the murder of a tailor in Udaipur. The mob wanted to attack the mosque. The police used tear gas shells to bring the situation under control (The Print, 2022).
On Monday May 4, 2022 Azad Mansoori (45) and Sadam Hassan (35), were attacked by at least eight masked assailants in Bhilwara district of Rajasthan. Victims were sitting outside the shrine when some people came on four bikes started shouting and then attacked both of them. Attackers set on fire a bike outside the shrine before hitting them. However police claimed personal enmity to be behind the attack. At least 12 persons were detained and Kanhaiya alias Kanha was arrested (Times of India, 2022).
In Jodhpur, Rajasthan, communal riots took place on 3rd May, when some Muslims were putting up religious flags hours before Eid on Jalori gate circle on a roundabout alongside the statue of freedom fighter Balmukund Bissa. This led to a confrontation as members of the other community alleged that a saffron flag, which they had put up there ahead of Parshuram Jayanti, had gone missing. This culminated into a riot and stone pelting ensued. Police used tear gas shells to disperse the crowd. 50 people were arrested (NDTV, 2022).
In March, a group which watched the controversial film, Kashmir Files in theater of Achalpur in Amravati area, Maharashtra, reached near the Lal Bridge, shouting the slogan of Jai Shri Ram. Abhay Mathane, BJP city unit head and thee group then hoisted Saffron flags at Dulha gate. Provoked, another group confronted them. The violence injured some youth. Mathane along with the others were arrested. The BJP in Maharashtra which that the time of the violence was the opposition party was demanding screening of the ‘Kashmir Files’ free of tax. But the Maha Vikas Aghadi government refused to make the film tax free (Singh, 2022).
On May 4, a scuffle broke out between two communities at a park in North east Delhi night over a petty fight between children while playing in the park. Police registered a complaint under rioting. Three arrested and 30 people have been detained who were involved in communal clashes, no casualties were reported (Indian Express, 2022).
In Karnataka, members of right wing organization, Sri Ram Sene attacked and vandalized in April, the stalls of Muslim fruit vendors whose shop are on the premises of the Nuggikeri Hanumantha temple in Dharwad. Police arrested 4, Mailarappa Guddappanavar, Mahaling Aigali, Chidanand Kalal and Kumar Kattiman. The assault took place in the presence of police. The right wing organizations had given an ultimatum to the temple governing body to evict the Muslim fruit vendors and urged devotees to not buy fruits from the Muslim fruit vendors (The Wire, 2022).
Harsha Nagaraj, 26 years old Bajrang Dal worker, was stabbed to death allegedly by a gang of youths that waylaid him when he stepped out of his home on 21st February in Shivamogga in Karnataka. Arson and stone pelting took place during his funeral procession. When the funeral procession passed through the city, with a large number of pro-Hindutva activists taking part, stones were hurled at buildings and vehicles in Muslim-dominated areas, and a few two-wheelers were set on fire. Kashif and Nadeem, both locals from Shivamogga were arrested. Harsha had a history of being slapped with multiple cases including rioting. The murder was also attributed to a derogatory post on Islam (Indian Express, 2022).
On, April 16, communal riots took place in Hubballi, Karnataka over a social media post. A youth posted derogatory comments on his whatsapp status. The post showed a morphed image of a saffron flag flying on a mosque. 126 people arrested including four minors. 12 police including an inspector suffered injuries. AIMIM leader Irfan Nalvatwad, husband of AIMIM corporator Hussainbi Nalwatwadi was detained and questioned (Times of India, 2022).
In Chakradharpur of Jharkhand, communal riot took place after two groups clashed on 12th November when the body of Kamaldev Giri (35) was being taken to the crematorium by his supporters. He was a Bajrang Dal activist and was killed when crude bombs were hurled at him by motorcycle borne miscreants. Most shops and markets in Bharat Bhawan chowk downed their shutters. The police used lathicharge and tear gas shells to disperse the mob (Times of India, 2022).
In Surjani village of Mandsaur district in Madhya Pradesh, a rift between 14-year-old Salman Khan and 32-year-old Shivlal Patidar over a speeding bike took a communal turn on 2nd October. When Patidar went to complain to the father of Khan, the confrontation turned violent with the members of both the communities clashed near a garba pandal. A whatsapp post went viral that Muslims on Surjani attacked a garba pandal and around 1000 people from the neighbouring village turned up at Surjani. Police booked 19 Muslims and apprehended seven, including the minor Salman, on allegations of pelting stones at the Garba. Within 12 hours after lodging the FIR, the district administration put on “building permission” notices outside the houses of three of the accused. The following day, all three houses were razed to the ground (Kakvi, News Click, 2022).
- Anti- Christian Violence:
Between December 9th and December 18th, there were a series of attacks in about 18 villages in Narayanpur and 15 villages in Kondagaon in Chhattisgarh, displacing about 1,000 Christian Adivasis from their villages, according to a fact finding report a fact finding mission organized collectively by the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, All India Peoples Forum, All India Lawyers Association for Justice and United Christian Forum. The Christians were attacked by Hindu right wing to intimidate them to give up their faith. The team was also told that the Christians were forced into converting into Hindu religion. While these attacks took place in 33 villages, in this report, the authors are treating it as one communal riot. There have been more than one communal riots forcing displacement of the 1000 Christians but since the authors are unsure about if physical rioting took place in all the 33 villages, the incidents are counted as one single incident. The Christians at some places left out of intimidation and fear.
- Theatre of Violence- Gujarat reports highest number of riots:
The highest number of communal riots according to CSSS monitoring took place in the state of Gujarat. Eight communal riots took place in Gujarat. This is quite contrary to the claims of the leaders of the ruling party that Gujarat is free of communal riots. Riots took place in communally sensitive cities of Khambhat and Vadodara which have history of communal riots. The second highest number of riots (5) took place in the state of Jharkhand. Jharkhand over the last few years has emerged as communally volatile. Three out of these five took place on the occasion of Ram Navami as described above. The states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan witnessed four communal riots each. Three communal riots took place in Maharashtra. Two communal riots took place each in Delhi, Punjab and West Bengal. One communal riot took place in Uttarakhand and Andhra Pradesh each. As mentioned above, the series of attacks on Christians in 33 villages in Chhattisgarh is counted here as one. In all probability, this figure is higher.
Zone wise break up of communal riots points to the volatile and communally sensitive nature of the North zone which alone account for 17 communal riots combined in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. The west zone consisting of only Gujarat and Maharashtra witnessed 11 communal riots, making it perhaps the most sensitive. The East zone which include West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, witnessed eight communal riots. The South zone which includes Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka witnessed five communal riots.
- Regime wise breakup indicates BJP ruled states have maximum number of communal riots:
Out of the total 41 communal riots that took place, 21 communal riots took place in states where Bharatiya Janata Party ruled. 9 communal riots took place in Congress ruled states. Two riots took place in West Bengal ruled by the Trinamool Congress and another two riots took place in Delhi and one in Punjab (in total 3) where the Aam Adami Party is in power. It is to be noted that the communal riots where BJP is not ruling have taken place due to active role of Hindu right wing groups or communal discourse promoted by BJP. This is especially true in the case of West Bengal and Rajasthan. One riot in West Bengal took place on the occasion of Ram Navami which is used a pretext by Hindu right wing organizations in West Bengal to communally polarize the state. In the previous years too, West Bengal witnessed communal riots due to the aggressive armed rallies organized by the Hindu right wing organizations. The other communal riot took place in West Bengal during the protests against Nupur Sharma’s derogatory comments on Prophet Mohammad and the inaction against her by the state. In Delhi, one riot took place on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti where the mob led by right wing organizations raised derogatory slogans. In the communal riot in Amravati in Maharashtra, BJP leader Abhay Mhante led a group of miscreants who raised objectionable slogans after watching Kashmir Files and violence ensued.
- State took on the role of Rioter in most cases:
The most prominent highlight or pattern that emerged in 2022 on communal riots is the role of the state which took on the role of the rioter, destroying the properties of the Muslims to inflict maximum damage on them. Through the state driven demolitions which became a norm, the state demonstrated that the Muslims are second class citizens and can be easily humiliated by Hindu right wing organizations with impunity. Demolitions were used so extensively in UP that CM Yogi Adityanath as given the nomenclature of “bulldozer baba”. Narottam Mishra, Home Minister of Madhya Pradesh and Shivraj Chouhan, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh tried weaving the narrative that Muslims are rioters and thus will be punished by razing down their houses to rubble. At the same time, the local administration in these states claimed after demolitions that the structures demolished were “illegal”. The owners of the properties were not given notices as prescribed by law- some served notices just a night prior the demolitions. Ironically, even if the demolitions were a response to stone pelting, most of the places where properties were demolished were far away from the areas where the riots had taken place making it improbable that stones were pelted from those properties during the riots. Thus, demolitions were used as a weapon to intimidate and inflicting damages on the Muslim community.
It is to be noted that in the states where BJP didn’t rule, the response of the state during riots was different. While demolitions were freely used in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat ruled by BJP where communal riots took place on Ram Navami, demolitions were not resorted to in Jharkhand, Maharashtra and West Bengal which also witnessed communal riots on Ram Navami. Similarly, Uttar Pradesh government where BJP is in power demolished properties of Muslims in Kanpur, Saharanpur and Prayagraj after riots triggered during protests against Nupur Sharma’s derogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammad, in other states like West Bengal, government didn’t resort to demolitions of properties belonging to Muslims.
State’s role at prevention of riots:
The police in most of the communal riots failed to prevent riots. In fact in the places where communal riots took place on Ram Navami or other religious processions, the police gave permission to the Hindu right wing organizations to organize processions which were political in nature- sloganeering targeting the Muslims, armed participants with swords, saffron flags etc. In most of the places where communal riots took place on Ram Navami, processions in the previous years were very small, usually taken out by some senior members of the community on shorter routes and were inconspicuous. But the police which is expected to have intelligence and reasonably could predict violence given the patterns emerging from the last two years, gave permission to Hindu right wing organizations who take out processions. It is police failure to prevent riots.
Response to riot:
During the communal riots too, police at some places like Himmatnagar, Khambhat and Khargone were seen protecting the Hindu mob or being on their side. The police didn’t respond to the cries of help of the Muslims whose houses were looted or set to fire even when they were present on the spot. The action of the police largely remained one sided during the riots and they failed to protect the victims.
Bringing culprits to justice:
The state’s partisan role is most pronounced at this stage where it targeted Muslims and criminalized them instead of conducting impartial probe. In Khambhat, Himmatnagar and Khargone, the police at the initial stages refused to register FIRs from the Muslim side. The FIRs either filed by police personnel or Hindu leaders- in the case of Khambhat by the Sarpanch, they named Muslims and large number of “unidentified” persons. This also gave them a pretext to go after innocent persons and detain or arrest them arbitrarily to “investigate”. Many poor labourers and daily wage workers were arrested in these cases. According to CSSS monitoring based on the three newspapers, 29 Muslims were arrested while 11 Hindus were arrested in the 40 communal riots where the identity of the arrested was revealed. Very little action is taken against the leaders of the Hindu right wing leaders who participated in the violence and mobilized others to perpetuate violence. The state gave such groups impunity and emboldened them to target the Muslim community.
Additionally, as mentioned above, the state itself assumed the role of the rioter by using bulldozers to raze down the properties of the Muslims to inflict maximum damage on them. In states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, where laws related to recovery of damages to public property exists, the Muslims were made to pay heavy damages. For instance, in Madhya Pradesh, a twelve year old boy was made to pay heavy damages!
- New Category of communal violence-Communally Motivated Attacks:
In 2022, there are some instances of physical violence which are neither mob lynching nor communal riots. This violence is targeted at an individual/ individuals owing to their religious identity and an act of hatred. These acts of violence are highly condemnable and strictest action under the appropriate laws must be taken to bring the culprits to justice. The prominent examples of this violence are the beheading of Kanhaya Lal Teli and murder of Umesh Kolhe. Kanhaiya Lal Teli was a tailor in Udaipur, Rajasthan. He was murdered in his own shop on 28th June by Mohammad Riyaz and Ghouse Mohammad and accused posted a video online of the incident claiming it was in retaliation for Teli sharing remarks made by former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma on Prophet Mohammad.
In a civilized society where rule of law prevails, such acts of depravity have no place and must be punished according to law. However, these cases of communally motivated attacks were used as a tool to paint the whole Muslim community as “terrorists”. The union government handed the case over to National Investigative Agency (NIA) to explore “terror angle” to the incident, likening these incidents to terror attacks. In a similar incident, Umesh Kolhe, chemist based in Amravati, Maharashtra was murdered by on June 21 allegedly for a social media post supporting former BJP national spokesperson Nupur Sharma who made controversial comments against Prophet Mohammad during a television debate. This case too was handed to the NIA and the accused also booked under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Pratik Pawar, 23, was attacked by a mob in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, accusing him of supporting the post of Nupur Sharma on social media. He was admitted in ICU for injuries to his head and other parts of the body. FIR was registered against 14 Muslims. Four were arrested (Times of India, 2022).
In Kerala, there was a series of political but also communal murders. S K Srinivasan (45), a former district leader and office-bearer of RSS, was attacked by a six-member gang at his motorbike shop in Melamuri in Palakkad town. He was allegedly attacked by SDPI/PFI activists. He was murdered in a span of less than 24 hours of the murder of Subair, PFI activist killed at Elappully. He was returning along with father Aboobacker on a motorbike after attending noon prayers at local mosque. The assailants knocked the bike down using their car and then hacked him to death (New Indian Express, 2022).
Innocent citizens were targeted by mobs and lynched in 2022 as has been the case in India in the past few years. In comparison to 2021, in 2022 saw a slight jump in the cases of mob lynching at 17 from 15 in 2021. However, the number of mob lynching cases related to cow vigilantism has doubled in 2022 in contrast to 2021. While in 2021 only four cases of mob lynching were related to cow vigilantism, in 2022 this number goes up to 8.
The total of 17 mob lynching claimed nine lives- four Muslims, four Hindus, one Christian and two unidentified as opposed to 11 lives in 2021. Despite this loss of life and targeting of innocent in the most gruesome manner which is continuing unabated, the state still does not collect or maintain data on mob lynching.
The highest number of mob lynching took place in the state of Karnataka (4). This was followed by two each in Delhi, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Bihar, Rajasthan, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana witness one mob lynching each.
Out of the 17 incidents of mob lynching, eight incidents were related to cow vigilantism. The incidents were as follows:
- In Samastipur, Bihar, cow vigilantes killed 32 years old Khalil Ahmed who was also a JDU worker in February 2022. A video clip shared on social media purportedly shows at least two persons beating Khalil up with canes, pulling him by the hair and asking him how much beef he ate and who slaughtered “gau mata“. On 18 February, Khalil’s charred body was found by police near the banks of the Burhi Gandak River. While the police arrested Krishna Kumar Jha, who is believed to be among those seen attacking Khalil in the video, they were looking for one Anurag Jha from whose instagram handle the video clip went viral (Mishra, 2022).
- A 26-year-old man Litan Miah from the Tarapukur area, a bordering village in the Dhanpur area, was lynched on suspicion of cattle theft in Baramura village of Tripura’s Sepahijala district in March. Police later arrested two people after the victim’s father lodged a complaint.
- A group of 10 to 15 persons claiming to be “gau rakshaks” killed 59 years old Rajaram and injured five others on the suspicion of cow slaughter in Dwarka’s Chhawla area in Delhi in April. After the meat was tested, the police registered two cases, one for alleged cow slaughter and another for assault and murder. Five persons were arrested for alleged cow slaughter (Chand, 2022).
- Two tribal men -Dhansa, 54 & Sampat Batti 60 were lynched by 10 to 15 people on the suspicion of cow slaughter and another man Brajesh, who intervene to save them, was gravely beaten up in Simaria village of Madhya Pradesh’s Seoni district around 3.00 am in early May. The Congress, opposition party in MP alleged that accused were associated with Bajrang Dal. The National Human Rights Commission took action in the case after a complaint by a rights activist. Special Investigation Team (SIT) was constituted to probe the entire incident. Seoni district police superintendent Kumar Prateek was removed from the tribal-dominated district and as was the entire staff of Kurai police station and Badalpur police chowki of the same district. Police arrested 9 (Mohan, 2022).
- Intezar Ali Shaikh was lynched to death while two others were injured when the mob of around 60 persons- residents Rawale in Raigad district, attacked them for alleged theft of cattle. The mob beat them up with logs and set their car ablaze. Three FIRs were registered. Shaikh had around seventeen cases of stealing and cutting cattle in the past (Parida, 2020).
- 50-year-old Nazir Ahmad was beaten to death on suspicion of smuggling cows by cow vigilantes near Brakhad village of Madhya Pradesh’s Narmadapuram district at midnight on August 2. The three were taking the cows to Amravati to sell them off in cattle fair. Nazir Ahmad, a resident of Maharashtra’s Amravati was allegedly transporting 28 cows along with Shaikh Lala (38) and Sayed Mushtaq (40) from nearby village named Nanderwada of Narmadapuram district when a group of cow vigilantes armed with sticks and rods, stopped the truck and assaulted them. Police have lodged two FIRs in connection with the incident – one against attackers and another against the survivors (Kakvi, 2022).
- Over two dozen men waylaid and thrashed two men ferrying cows in a pickup vehicle on Benar Road under Kardhani police station end of July. The pickup driver, Ram Swarup Meena in his FIR to the Kardhani police said that he is a resident of Chatarpura village and Munshi Khan, a resident of Harmada, had hired him to transport two cows and calves to Ramgarh Road on the outskirts of Jaipur in Rajasthan. As per the FIR, some persons blocked the road with stones near a temple so that Meena’s vehicle could not go ahead. The FIR states that both Meena and Khan have sustained serious injuries, in the assault. The Kardhani police said that one of the accused, Rinku Kumawat has been identified in the FIR while the others are unknown. The FIR was registered under IPC Sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 341 (wrongful restraint), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), and 379 (theft) (Times of India, 2022).
- Ashish Kamlakar Barik, an animal welfare officer and Pratik Nanavare, animal activist were hit on the head with sticks in an attack by a mob when they had accompanied police personnel to raid a truck suspected to be carrying beef in Mumbai in January. The police were going to send the meat to the laboratory to verify if it was beef. Seven persons were accused (Singh & Ali, 2022).
Other pretexts for mob lynching:
- Suspicion of being involved in a fight between Muslim and Hindu over eve teasing:
19 years old Shamir was stabbed to death by seven to eight people in Nargund town in North Karnataka’s Gadag district in January. Shamshir Pathan and Shamir were attacked by some unknown people when they were traveling after work. Shamshir Pathan managed to escape but Shamir died due to a stabbing. Police arrested Mallikarjun (20), Chennabasappa (19), Sakrappa (19), and a local Bajrang Dal leader Sanju Nalvadi (35). Shamir’s brother Sahil said there was an incident of an eve-teasing a month ago involving some Hindu boys and Muslim girls. In retaliation, relatives of one of the girls attacked the boys, in which one of the boys lost his finger. Shamir was targeted on the suspicion that he was involved in the attack. Police said that before killing Shabir a Bajrang dal leader and some boys gathered in front of the police station and were calling the youth to beat up Muslims where they found them. On the day of the violence, one of the accused, Nalavadi was actively involved in a rally organized in Naragund where calls were made for violence against Muslims (Indian Express, 2022).
- Hijab Controversy:
Saif, 20 years old, brother of Hajra Shifa, a girl from a group of girls from Government PU College for Girls, Udupi, who were protesting the hijab ban, was brutally beaten up by right-wing activists in February. This assault on Saif was an act of revenge for his support to his sister, who is opposing the hijab ban. Shifa claimed that their house and shops have been damaged by the culprits. Police registered a case and arrested three people identified as Deepak, 25, who allegedly slapped the victim, Manoj, 25, and Sanil Raj, 26, who works at Malpe harbor (Times of India, 2022).
- Suspicion of religious conversion:
35-year-old Kelom Kalyan Tet, a pastor was assaulted on February 25 by a mob in Delhi that accused him of being on a conversion mission. According to his complaint, he had gone to the Bhati Mines area to meet a friend. When he was leaving, some local residents accosted him and forced him to chant “Jai Sri Ram.” Tet said that some women objected to him being beaten and asked the mob to take him to a police station instead. Tet was bundled into a car to be taken to the station but was instead taken to the Fatehpur Beri Chowk crossroad, where both his hands were tied to the divider of the road and the mob incited people by accusing Tet of forceful religious conversions. The police did not write Tet’s complaint readily and delayed it (Iyer, 2022).
- Selling of Halal Meat:
Sayyad Ansar, owner of a Chicken shop and his relative Tausif were assaulted by a group of 10 to 15 persons who demanded non halal meat in the shop in Bhadravathi in Shivamogga district in March. An argument ensued and the Hindu activists assaulted the victims. This attack came against the background of the demands of the Hindu right wing organizations to ban halal meat in Shivamogga and Chikkamagaluru districts. The Bajrang Dal workers also undertook a door- to- door campaign and distributed leaflets, urging people to buy meat and groceries from only ‘Hindu shops’ (Sagar, 2022).
- Suspicion over ‘love jihad’:
Mohammad Sanif, 19-year-old B.com student of a College at Sullia in Karnataka, was beaten up by a group of Hindu students on August 30 for being friends with a Hindu girl student. Sanif, a resident of Jalsoor Village, was talking to his Hindu friend. The accused did not like Sanif talking to the Hindu girl and took him to the college playground. The accused assaulted Sanif with a wooden log. The police arrested five students for assaulting Sanif and four students for supporting the assault (The Siasat Daily, 2022).
- Muslim Identity:
A group of men, armed with sticks and chanting slogans, stopped two brothers, Zeeshan (24) and Faizan (21) who were out to buy pizza from a local outlet in Ranchi, asked them their names, and then allegedly beat them up severely on finding out that they were Muslims, according to a complaint filed with police by one of the two brothers. The attack took place in the Sujata Chowk area around 8 pm on June 10; hours after a protest in the city over controversial remarks on the Prophet turned violent. The mob carrying weapons attacked them on their head due to which they sustained head injuries. It required stitches after heavy bleeding (Angad, 2022).
Mubeen Qureshi, a resident of Farah, Mathura district in Uttar Pradesh, had on July 10 gone to his fields to gather fodder for his animals when a group of men from the Dharmpura Pulia area allegedly assaulted him and forced him to chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. One of the accused uploaded the video on social media. According to Mubeen, one of the accused held his beard and told him that he is an “anti-national” and his people have murdered Kanhaiya Lal. Kanhaiya Lal was beheaded in Udaipur by two accused after he had extended support to suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, who had made allegedly offensive remarks on Prophet Muhammad. Two accused have been arrested (The Wire, 2022).
Syed Lateefuddin, an Uber driver, in Hyderabad was chased and attacked by a group of six men who forced him to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ on September 4. They also robbed Lateefuddin of Rs 6000 and took some of his documents. They damaged his car too. Lateefuddin managed to escape and call 100 when he hid in bushes (The news Minute, 2022).
- Idol Immersion:
Rupesh Kumar Pandey, was killed allegedly in an idol immersion ceremony of Goddess Saraswati in Hazaribagh in Jharkhand on 6th February. There was allegedly a clash between the members of two communities and Pandey was attacked. Four persons have been arrested for their involvement in the clash. Riots broke out in Hazaribagh after this incident (The Print, 2022). Family members of Rupesh Kumar Pandey have called for action under the provisions of the Prevention of Mob Violence and Mob Lynching Bill, 2021. However, the police and state claimed that this was a murder due to personal enmity.
Role of state:
The state out of eight cases of mob lynching related to cow vigilante has slapped charges against the victims in three cases under anti- cow slaughter legislations, thereby criminalizing them. This encourages and emboldens the cow vigilante to attack at will. The police is not always prompt or impartial to act against the culprits, delaying justice to the victims.
Role of Hindu Right wing:
Out of the 17 incidents of mob lynching, five has direct involvement of right wing organizations as per the news reports. In Nargund, Karnataka, the Bajrang Dal leader is one of the main accused where 19 years old Shamir was lynched to death. In the attack on Saif and his restaurant in Udupi, the Hindu right wing organizations were involved as per the reports. In Karnataka Shivmogga, the Bajrang Dal has undertaken door to door campaign in urging people to ban meat from Muslim owned shops and created an atmosphere of hatred. In Ranchi too, the two Muslim men were attacked when the Hindu right wing organizations had mobilized many people to create anti-Muslim sentiment post the Nupur Sharma controversy. In Seoni, Madhya Pradesh, the opposition party has alleged that the mob which killed the two Adivasis had involvement of the Bajrang Dal. This pattern indicates the impunity the Hindu right wing enjoys under the ruling regime.
 Find the detail fact finding report of the Khambhat and Himmatnagar communal riots conducted by CSSS at https://csss-isla.com/fact-finding-reports/fact-finding-report-of-himmatnagar-and-khambhat-riots-in-gujarat/
 Read the detail fact finding report of the communal riots in Lohardagga conducted by CSSS at https://csss-isla.com/secular-perspective/communal-riots-in-lohardagga-during-ram-navmi-procession/
 Find the full report on https://indianexpress.com/article/india/1000-christians-violence-chhattisgarh-forcibly-converted-to-hindus-civil-rights-8351322/
 In Part I of this report, the number of mob lynching was pegged at 15 in 2022. It was an inadvertent mistake and the correct figure is 17.