(Secular Perspective Jan 1 to Feb. 15, 2016)
Communal violence, polarization of communities and the institutionalization of hatred it results in; have emerged as most the prominent threats engulfing the country in the year 2015. This has spelled adverse repercussions on communal harmony and led to shrinking of democratic space. This year, figures available till October suggest that there were 650 incidents of communal violence in which 84 people lost their lives and 1,979 others were injured. This was pointed out by Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home in response to a query in the Parliament. The Times of India puts the figure of the total number of communal incidents till October 2015 at 630 as compared to 561 incidents in 2014. As compared to 2015, the year 2014 witnessed 644 incidents with a death toll of 95. However the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) pegs these figures at 1227, almost double of what the Home Ministry reported.
The home ministry reported that in 2015 no “major” communal incidence has taken place but two ‘significant’ communal incidents have taken place. These two incidents of communal violence relate to the building of a mosque in Atali, Haryana and the lynching of a man in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh over rumors of consumption of beef. Interestingly, the home ministry categorizes communal incidents in two classes ‘major’ and ‘important/ significant’. A “major” communal incident is described as one that results in either more than 5 deaths or leaves over 10 persons injured. An ‘important/significant’ incident is one that ends in at least one death or leaves 10 injured.
Upon closely looking at these figures, certain patterns can be discerned in the violence this year. Firstly the intensity of violence in terms of number of deaths and casualties has been low. Though the number of communal incidents has risen marginally compared to previous year, the number of casualties has remained low. 84 are reported to be dead due to communal violence in 2015 as compared to 90 in 2014. This is despite the rise in communal incidents this year compared to previous year. This reveals the nature of communal violence after the Hindu nationalists attain power. The communal violence resorted to now is low intensity in order to continue to produce communal polarization without attracting unnecessary media and international attention. The primary motive of violence now is to strike terror amongst the marginal and coerce them to accept the position of second class citizens. Low intensity communal violence enforces new norms decided by the Hindu nationalists. The marginalized sections, particularly the minorities may survive at sufferance and good will of majority.
The communal incidents, including those in Atali (Haryana) and Harshul (Maharashtra), Dadri (UP) are increasingly normalizing communal violence. Communities hitherto living in peace and harmony were mobilized in the violence. The houses and shops of Muslim residents in Atali were looted and burnt. Their vehicles were charred. Their cattle sheds were burnt. The Muslims were forced to flee for their security. This caused considerable displacement and consequent hardships. This type of violence has been categorized as sub radar violence by scholars following the trends in communal violence. The home ministry, as pointed out above, has categorized communal incidents in two classes and listed down one incident in each. This is a deliberate attempt to trivialize these incidents and overall design of communal violence.
Secondly, the occurrences of communal violence have continued to take places in small towns and villages along with urban areas. Earlier communal violence was predominantly an urban phenomenon. However as one looks closely at the data, it becomes clear that the rural areas are fast being injected with communal conflicts and communal polarization. Violence occurred in places including towns like Palwal, Kannauj, Pachora, Shamli. Communal conflicts are kept simmering sub radar in rural areas under various pretexts. The tinderbox of communal violence this year was western UP, Bihar and Haryana. Both these patterns can be better explained when referred to the Institutionalized riots system (IRS) as established by Paul Brass after he studied major communal riots in India. Bihar and UP are slated for state assembly elections in 2015 and 2017 respectively. The political parties that benefit from polarization and the sharpening of voter constituency establish and operate IRS that is very active before election in the bid to mobilize votes by dividing communities over issues related to identity.
In order to garner votes in a complex matrix of caste and religious equations, the Hindu nationalists with the passive support of other parties (state governments that don’t take adequate action to curb or punish the perpetrators) kept communal tensions brewing and made the social landscape volatile. After the Muzzafarnagar riots, BJP swept majority of the seats in UP during general elections in 2014. It is hoping for an encore for other state elections especially in UP by orchestrating violence.
The State and the criminal justice system responded rather poorly to the challenge of communal violence. Overall, the police have failed to bring the perpetrators to justice. At places like Harshul where around 40 houses and shops of Muslims were burnt down, pamphlets were distributed earlier by certain organizations and the same also warned the Muslims about the impeding attack and violence, helping some of them to flee from the scene of violence before its occurrence. Yet the police didn’t avert violence, hinting at either intelligence failure or lack of will to protect the minorities. In Atali, though the police sheltered the Muslims in Ballabhgarh police station for over 10 days, its failure and reluctance to arrest the wrongdoers of the violence in May 2015, who were identified by the survivors, led to another similar attack on the Muslims in July. In Dadri, the reaction of police was appalling when it sent the meat found at Mohammad Akhlaq’s house for forensic testing if it was. By its poor, and even lack of, response the state afforded space and legitimacy to vigilantism. The impunity enjoyed by the vigilante Hindu nationalist groups encourages such actions on minorities throughout the country. The role of the police has larger repercussions on the delivery and response of the Criminal Justice system of India. In a complete travesty of justice, the police personnel accused of gunning down innocent Muslims in Hashimpur were acquitted by the Delhi Court marking a new low in the realm of speedy justice and human rights. Those held guilty and sentenced for their crimes in communal incidences in Gujarat in 2002 are out of jail.
Another striking trend this year is the attacks on Churches across India. Churches and idols inside were vandalized and desecrated. The attacks indicate towards a concerted and deliberate attempt to target the Christian community, trampling their right to freely profess and practice their religion, a right guaranteed to all persons in India by Article 25 of the Constitution. When the human right organizations protested and demanded action, the state dismissed the incidences as merely mischief by some local anti social elements to downplay its gravity. This along with rapes of nuns, intimidation and violence faced by priests particularly in Chattisgharh, has created insecurity and fear in the Christian community in India. The Christians in Kandhamal could not celebrate Christmas in peace. Hindu nationalists called for bandh, resorted to physical attacks on Christians and created an intimidating atmosphere in several blocks of the district.
According to Home Ministry figures, eight states – Maharashtra, Gujarat, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala constitute for 86% of communal incidents in the country. The triggers of the communal violence have largely been religious processions, personal rivalry between individuals of two communities, construction of Mosque in turn reflecting on the question of ownership of resources like land, alleged cow slaughter and inter-religious courtships and marriages.
The Hindu nationalists ran with impunity campaign on issues like ‘Beti Bachao Bahu Lao Andolan’ (‘movement’ to save (Hindu) daughters (from inter-religious marriages) and ‘bring’ or poach non-Hindu women into the community through conjugal relations). The RSS- Bajrang Dal has been running this campaign in Agra on such a magnitude that it attracted demand of action from UP Minorities Commission. According to a report, Bajrang Dal members have distributed pamphlets in girls’ colleges to warn Hindu girls against falling in love with Muslim men. This amounts to a hate campaign where there is a deliberate attempt to spread paranoia against other communities and infringement on the rights of individuals who want to get into a matrimonial tie out of their free will and choice. The Hindu nationalists have been encouraging Hindu men to marry Muslim women and convert them into Hindu religion. Interestingly, Agra was also in the grip of communal tension after the bid of forcible ‘ghar wapasi’ campaign. This campaign is not restricted to Agra but is prevalent throughout Uttar Pradesh. In West Bengal the Hindu nationalists went as far as exhorting the Hindu boys and their families to become members of BJP for ‘safety and security’ after they marry Muslim girls and convert them to Hindu religion.
The selective leakage of census data of 2011 was another such attempt for spreading hatred. It was revealed that Muslims now constitute 14.2% of the population up from 13.4% in 2001 census. This was juxtaposed with the decrease in the population of the Hindus. It was in order to create a factually incorrect impression that the Muslim population was growing so rapidly that it threatened the majority of Hindus in India. To create further hysteria, Sadhavi Prachi claimed that Muslims produce “40 puppies” through “love jihad” in order to turn “Hindustan” into “Darul Islam” (abode of Islam). To counter this, she urged Hindu women to have 4 children each! Similar appeal was made by Sakshi Maharaj. Both are BJP MPs and obliged to uphold constitutional principles.
Central to both these propaganda issues is the bodies of women and how they are perceived in the discourse of nationalism. Women are looked upon primarily as child bearers to make up for numbers in a nation, in this case to increase the number of Hindus. Challenges that restrict their rights and wellbeing are not untouched. Instead they are assigned the role of mere child bearers, not right bearers. It was shocking when we interacted with women in Atali, both Jats and Muslims. The Muslim women narrated how Jat women in their neighbourhood, with whom they grew up and shared all festivals, joys and sorrows, participated in stone pelting and burning down their houses. The Jat women unfazed repeatedly asserted that Muslims have no right to construct any Mosque in the village and shouldn’t be even allowed to return to the village. The mobilization of women to participate in violence is disturbing as it tears apart a constituency which benefits the most from peace. They also alleged that Jat girls were allured by Muslim men who pose a threat to village traditions (Mhatre & Dabhade, 2015).
Cow slaughter was also exploited to polarize communities. From June 2014 till October 2015, over 330 communal incidents have taken place over allegations of cow slaughter in UP alone. Innocent youth were killed on mere suspicion of carrying bovines for slaughter in Saharanpur.
Social boycott was another instrument to communally polarize and deepen communal identities. In Atali a social boycott was imposed on Muslims who returned to the village. The largely labouring community was not given any job by villagers, they were not sold food items and even milk for their babies, their goods and services were not accepted. This brought the lives of the Muslims to a standstill with hunger and despondency. Upper mobility amongst Muslims or slightest signs of wealth which disturbs the feudal social status quo and the power structure attracted a violent response. The large scale looting and burning of properties belonging to Muslims vindicate this premise. The response of the State in terms of its silence and the fashion in which it condones violence creates an alarm.
Communalization of attitudes and polarization are direct consequences of hate speeches. The hate speeches and the impunity against such hate speeches have sought to legitimize communal violence. Governors, Chief Ministers and MPs have indulged in hate speeches intending to strengthen the narrative of exclusion, bias and hatred (Dabhade & Engineer, 2015). Hate and distrust is spread by office bearers who are supposed to guard the cornerstone of our constitution. Emboldened by this, non state actors have had a free hand to inflict violence on the marginalized.
Communal Violence in 2015: A glimpse into Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Haryana
North India has reported highest number of instances of communal violence in the year 2015. Some news reports went as far as calling the cow belt of India a tinderbox of communal violence. Some characteristics were discerned to have beset the violence all over northern India and particularly in Uttar Pradesh. Communal violence was mostly preceded by hate speeches by political leaders and Parliamentarians including ministers. The speeches served as a cue to the aggressive elements to resort to violence with impunity. Social media like facebook and whatsApp were used extensively to spread misinformation, rumors as in case of riots in Shamshabad. Most incidents of communal violence preceded elections, including panchayat elections in UP. Even a smallest incident could trigger off communal violence due to the polarization of the society. As said by a BJP activist in UP, “Hindus and Mohammedans can’t live together any longer” (The Hindu, 2015).
Communal Violence in Uttar Pradesh:
Uttar Pradesh which is slated for State assembly elections in 2017, witnessed 68 instances of communal violence in the first half of 2015. Western UP was particularly on the boil.
4th January, 2015 Agra
Agra was tense when Muslim youth cut electric wires of the market to clear the way for a procession on the occasion of Eid-eMilad-un- Nabi. Shopkeepers objected to cutting of wires and subsequently led to rioting and stone pelting (The Hindu, 2015).
16th January, 2015 Bareilly
In Bareilly, a slaughtered animal was found outside a religious place in Sahukara Naugoan. The police registered an FIR against unidentified persons for defiling of a religious place. Local BJP leaders were booked for obstructing the police from doing their duty. Two companies of PAC were deployed to contain the violence. There were no reports of the number of dead or injured. (The Hindu, 2015).
2nd May, 2015 Shamli
17 persons were injured in Kandhla area of Shamli during the clash between Tablighi Jammat volunteers and Jat youth in a local train. The group of Jats allegedly attacked and beat up five members of the Tablighi Jamaat. The members of the minority community demanded arrests of the culprits in the case. (The Hindu, 2015).
29th May, 2015 Lucknow
Violence erupted in Lucknow when Hindus and Muslims quarrelled over the use of loudspeakers by a temple at the time of azaan. Stone pelting was resorted to by the mob though no one was reportedly injured. The police also reported that both sides opened fire. The police arrived on the spot and diffused tension (The Hindu, 2015).
29th August,2015 Muzaffarnagar
Communal violence broke out in Muzafarnagar ironically marking the second anniversary of the Muzafarnagar riots that took place in 2013. The Bajrang Dal on 29th August attacked the vehicle of Nazeer Ahmad Qasmi, a popular cleric of Muzaffarnagar. Followed by this incident there were many rumors doing round in the area. The Muslims demanded the arrests of the activists of Bajrang Dal. In another incident, violence erupted in the Kutba village when the Muslim victims of the riots in 2013 came back to the village to collect bricks from their abandoned houses to build houses in the other villages they have settled in. These Muslims were attacked and beaten up by the Jats from the village. The agitated Muslim mob upon being returned by the police with no action taken to arrest the culprits, resorted to blocking the main road. This blockade led to clashes between the Muslim and Jat youth. The number of injured were not reported (The Hindu, 2015).
4th September, 2015 Shamshabad
In early September communal clash was witnessed in Shamshabad, 25 kms from Agra over an objectionable post on Facebook against Prophet Mohammad. The violence spread to other nearby villages. A mob enraged over the post vandalized four religious places. They forced shut shops and set fire to some structures. The vigilante mob caught hold of a shop owner, Mr. Gupta, who allegedly posted the objectionable post on Facebook. He was beaten up and the mob attempted to hang him. The police registered a case against the mob for disturbing law and order and another FIR was registered against Mr. Gupta for posting the objectionable comments. Over 100 people from both communities have been booked (The Hindu, 2015).
28th September, 2015 Bisada village, Dadri
The incident that shocked the nation and questioned the moral fiber of our society was the lynching of 58 years old Mohammad Aqlakh in Bisada, Dadri over rumors of consumption and storage of beef in his refrigerator. Prior to the lynching, a priest using a temple loudspeaker claimed that the Aqlakh family had consumed beef. Following this the mob rushed to lynch Mohammad Aqlakh resulting in his death and critically injuring his 21 year old son, Danish. The police instead of promptly arresting the culprits sent the meat in the refrigerator of Aqlakh to the forensic laboratory for checking if its beef (Times of India , 2015). Eventually BJP leader’s son was arrested in this case.
4th October, 2015 Chitehra and Kudakhedi
The tension created by Dadri incident spilled over to two other adjacent villages of Chitehra and Kudakhedi. In Chitehra village, a head of a calf was found which led to rumor of cow slaughter and subsequent tension. Similarly in Kudakhedi a calf belonging to a farmer died of natural causes. However, trouble mongers spread rumours to give this incident a communal turn (The Hindu, 2015).
22nd October, 2015 Fatehpur district (Allahabad)
Instances of communal violence during religious procession are very common as demonstrated in an incident in Fatehpur district of UP. Riot broke out when an idol procession was taken through a route different from the one permitted. On the changed route a Mosque was located. Stone pelting was resorted to by both the communities. Two houses were partially damaged and two bicycles and three motorcycles were set on fire. However no major injuries were reported. PAC and local force was deployed and the police claimed to have diffused the situation (The Indian Express, 2015).
6th November, 2015 Mainpuri
Riots broke out in Mainpuri in Agra when a mob nearly lynched four Muslims. The mob alleged that the four Muslims had slaughtered a cow and skinned it. The police however found that the cow was already dead when the owner handed it over to the four for skinning it in order to sell the skin in a tannery. The rioting mob set fire to more than a dozen shops belonging to Muslims. 7 cops were injured. The police filed two FIRs, one against the men charged with killing the cow and the second against 500 unidentified men for triggering riots when section 144 of CrPC was already in place anticipating trouble during the panchayat polls (Times of India, 2015). The police found that some right wing organizations have been at play in spreading hatred and planning the riot by mobilizing the mob (Times of India, 2015). A total of 30 arrests were made invoking stringent sections of IPC including 307 (attempt to murder), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc). The police didn’t divulge the names of the right wing organizations (Times of India, 2015).
14th November, 2015 Aligarh
What’s perhaps alarming is that Hindutva forces wedging a drift between Dalits and Muslims. A minor clash between two groups of youth over bursting of crackers occurred was portrayed as a “Dalit vs Muslim” clash by VHP and BJP. This incident occurred in Aligarh where Gaurav, a 22 year old dalit boy died due to the injuries sustained during the clash. VHP and BJP demanded that Gaurav’s family gets Rs. 40 lakhs as compensation as been given to the family of Mohammad Akhlaq (The Hindu, 2015).
Communal Violence in Bihar:
Bihar witnessed polls last year but the polls were preceded by heightened communal violence in order to polarize communities and consolidate vote banks. The issues raked up most for spreading violence were – throwing of animal carcasses in religious places, conflict over route of religious processions, desecration of idols and land disputes. After the split of the alliance in Bihar between BJP-JD(U) in 2013, the number of communal incidents have increased to 445 in the period of June 18, 2013 to June 30,2015 up from 92 between January 1, 2010 to June 18, 2013.
8th January, 2015 Sasaram, Rohtas
A dispute over a kite which landed in a graveyard in Rohtas turned communal claiming one life and injuring 17. The background to this conflict was reported to be an altercation turned violent over a Muslim man reprimanding a Hindu boy over urinating outside his shop (The Indian Express, 2015).
19th January, 2015 Azizpur
Azizpur communal clash was a major riot. The body of one Bhartendu Sahni of Bahilwara was found in the field of Wasi Ahmed in Azizpur. It was alleged that Bhartendu was in love with Wasi Ahmed’s daughter and his son enraged with this love affair killed Bhartendu and dumped his body in the field. The Sahni community upon discovering the body torched 40 houses of Muslims in Azizpur and killed five people. The villagers of Azizpur felt that the violence was result of Sahni community’s attempt to further marginalize Muslims of the village. The police has lodged a case against 2000 people and arrested 13 who have been named in the FIR (The Indian Express, 2015).
26th April, 2015 Phulwariya village
In April, the Hindus and Muslims clashed over a piece of land considered holy by the Hindus but which is situated in middle of a graveyard or Kabristan (Indian Express, 2015).
8th May, 2015 Chandauti village, Gaya
So volatile and charged was a communal scene in Bihar that petty fight over a cricket match between two local teams in Gaya’s Chandauti village took a communal turn (The Indian Express, 2015).
17th May, 2015 Daudnagar, Aurangabad
Communal violence erupted in this village when a rumor spread that a group of Muslims was found with a missing buffalo. Gunfire was used in the incident leaving one dead and 13 injured. The residents reported that tension prevailed in the village for many months over discovery of a defaced Hanuman idol during a Muharram procession (The Indian Express, 2015)
18th November, 2015 Vaishali
In November, communal violence erupted when a 19 year old Mohammad Rizwan lost control of the pick-up van while driving and rammed into the house of a 60 year old man in Vaishali. The man was killed along with his 8 month old granddaughter. When rumors spread that Rizwan has been let off by the police after preliminary inquiries, a mob clashed leading to death of a 17 year old Vikas Kumar after being critically injured in the police firing (The Indian Express, 2015).
Communal Violence in Haryana
The violence in Haryana was aimed at consolidating the socio-political hegemony of the dominant Jat community and countering the seemingly assertive Muslim community in order to maintain status quo in a feudal society.
15th March 2015, Hisar
A church was vandalized in Kaimri village, Hisar. The priest in Kaimri village was threatened by one Anil Godra. He alleged that the priest was trying to convert the villagers into Christianity. The Church was under construction and Anil Godra along with his accomplices allegedly pulled down the cross of Jesus and replaced it with an idol of Lord Hanuman. The Police registered an FIR against 14 persons (The Indian Express, 2015).
25th May and 1st July 2015, Atali
The major instance of communal violence was in the village of Atali. The conflict between the Muslims and Jats in Atali was over construction of a Mosque. The land where a makeshift Mosque existed and Muslims from the village prayed for many decades was claimed by the Jats in the village as property of the Panchayat and objected to the building of the Mosque. However the district court had ruled in favour of the construction of Mosque. There were two bouts of violence which claimed one life and injured 19. The police’s delay and hesitation to arrest the accused named in the FIR emboldened the Jat youth to mount the second attack in July preceded by the first attack in May. In the aftermath of the riot the immediate concern was the social boycott imposed by the powerful Jats on the minority Muslims.
5th July, 2015 Palwal
The spillover of the Atali violence could be seen in Tikri Brahman village in Palwal, only 30 kms away from Atali in July. Though the exact triggering point wasn’t spelled out in the report, it was reported that the altercation between two youth led to a riot in which 17 people were injured (Indian Express, 2015).
Communal Violence in Madhya Pradesh:
Madhya Pradesh witnessed the consolidation of the power and impunity of Hindutva outfits. The occasions of Hindu festivals to demonstrate strength of the Hindutva outfits has been used as a strategy to intimidate other communities. The region of Malwa in particular has been a hotbed of conflicts. The role of the police has been partial specifically during the Neemuch riot where the police officials refused to register FIRs lodged by Muslims.
3rd April 2015, Neemuch:
In a built-up to Hanuman Jayanti, the Bajrang Dal insisted that the procession must be taken out on Friday instead of Saturday, the day Hanuman Jayanti actually fell on. During this procession, they shouted slogans against Muslims while they were in their Friday prayers at Athana Darwaza Jama Masjid and Momin Mohalla Masjid. They also played loud music in front of the Mosque during prayers. The Bajrang Dal torched houses, shops and vehicles belonging to Muslims. The police imposed curfew only in Muslim dominated localities and arrested 30 Muslims (twocircles.net, 2015).
4th April 2015, Alirajpur:
Communal violence erupted when a scuffle took place between district BJP President’s son Sudhanshu Verma and local Muslims allegedly over the decorations for Hanuman Jayanti. Section 144 was imposed to bring the situation under control. The number of injured wasn’t reported (twocircles.net, 2015).
22nd October 2015, Khargone:
Communal violence took place during Dussehra celebrations. While the residents of one community were returning from the festivities, the people of other community pelted stones at them according to the police. This led to communal violence. Four persons were injured. The police resorted to lathicharge and lobbed teargas to control the violence. Nearly 100 persons were detained for their participation in the violence (The Indian Express, 2015).
Communal Violence in Jharkhand:
Jharkhand was on boil, rife with tension especially against the backdrop of activities of Hindutva outfits. It is interesting to note that in 2014 Jharkhand reported the highest number of communal incidents at 349 according to NCRB (The Indian Express, 2015). Communal violence in Jharkhand was with an eye on the Bihar elections. For example, Jamshedpur has a large number of Bihari migrants and already witnessed a major communal riot in 1979.
4th January 2015, Giridih:
Communal violence took place over procession of Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi where stone pelting took place. Seven bikes and two four wheelers were set on fire and two houses damaged. About 10 people including children and policemen received minor injuries. Prohibitory orders were imposed to bring the situation under control (The Indian Express, 2015).
20th July 2015, Jamshedpur:
Communal riot took place after rumors were spread about a Hindu girl being eve teased in the vicinity of boys’ hostels located in a Muslim neighbourhood. This incident took place a day after Eid. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal members took out a procession to demand action against the eve teasing and shops and vehicles belonging to Muslims were torched in different parts of Mango. No casualties or injuries were reported. The police arrested 133 including some VHP leaders. Curfew was also imposed to control the situation (The Indian Express, 2015).
25th September 2015, Ranchi:
Communal violence erupted when a hide of an animal was found outside a Kali temple. The VHP and Bajrang Dal members took out a procession and threw stones at Etra Masjid. Youth with sticks and shouting “Jai Shri Ram” threatened shopkeepers to keep shops shut. The police resorted to lathicharge. 65 persons were detained and prohibitory orders issued (The Indian Express, 2015).
24th October 2015, Hazaribaug:
Communal riot was triggered by confrontation during Muharram and Durga Puja which coincided on the same day in October. One person was reported dead and many injured. The police imposed section 144 to bring the situation under control. Similarly tension brewed in other districts of Latedar, Dhanbad and Daltonganj on the same day (Hindustan Times , 2015).
21st December 2015, Ranchi:
Discovery of meat outside a kali temple and a masjid in Ormajhi led to communal riots. No deaths were reported. The police arrested 45 people, 25 Hindus including members of Hindutva groups and rest Muslims (The Indian Express, 2015).
Communal Violence in Rajasthan:
Rajasthan witnessed two incidents as per the media reports available. [i][i]
23rd October 2015, Sri Dungargarh:
The reason cited for communal violence was use of loudspeakers by one group when two separate religious processions were taken out. The other group objected to the loudspeaker and this was followed by stone pelting. Some shops were looted and torched. This led the police to resort to lathicharge and use teargas. The police arrested 50 persons and also clamped an indefinite curfew (The Hindu, 2015).
24th October 2015, Bhilwara:
20 year old Islamuddin’s death led to a riot. He was allegedly killed the previous day. The police were on 24th October stopped from sending the body for post mortem. Around 500 Muslims demanded that the suspect first be arrested. No deaths were reported in the riot (The Hindu, 2015).
Communal Violence in Delhi:
The public discourse in Delhi in the end of 2014 was dominated by the attacks on Churches and the sense of insecurity that gripped the Christian community. These attacks continued in January in 2015 but stopped after the Delhi assembly elections indicating that the attacks on churches were to consolidate vote banks ahead of the elections. However the police insisted that there is no pattern to these attacks and some local petty miscreants are involved.
14th January 2015, Vikaspuri (West Delhi):
The statue of other Mary was pushed down and the glass cabinet it was kept in was damaged at Our Lady of Graces Church. A case of defiling a place of worship has been registered against identified persons. No person was reported injured (Times of India, 2015).
2nd February 2015, South Delhi:
At St. Alphonsa Church, the chalice was taken away and its contents scattered on the floor. This act of vandalism led the police to file a case of theft and defiling a place of worship (Times of India, 2015)
Communal Violence in Jammu and Kashmir:
Jammu Kashmir is governed by an uneasy alliance between BJP and PDP formed in 2015. The number of communal riots in Jammu Kashmir is lesser than national average as seen from previous years.
20th August 2015, Samba (Jammu):
Communal riot erupted when the head of a bovine was found in a nullah. The local youth protested and started hurling stones. They also torched vehicles on the national highway. The police resorted to lathicharge, lobbed teargas and also fired shot. The army was called upon to control the situation. No deaths or injuries were reported (The Indian Express, 2015).
Communal Violence in Gujarat:
BJP ruled Gujarat has reported 25 incidents of communal violence between January and June 2015. 7 people died and 79 were injured (DNA India, 2015).
4th January 2015, Vadodara:
The trigger for communal violence in this instance was the procession of Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi. During this procession a signage belonging to members of other community was damaged in Akota. This led to a confrontation and stone pelting. Three persons including two women were reported to be injured. The police lobbed tear gas shell to stop violence (The Indian Express, 2015).
14th January 2015, Ambheta and Hansot:
The communal violence was due to a spat between two communities in Ambheta over road construction. The mobs hurled stones at each other and turned violent. The tension of this incident spread to the nearby town of Hansot where the mob resorted to hurling stones and shops were torched. Two people died and four were injured in these incidences (Times of India, 2015).
Communal Violence in Maharashtra:
Maharashtra has witnessed 59 incidents of communal violence from January to June in 2015 in which 4 people were killed and 196 injured (DNA India, 2015). BJP- Shiv Sena alliance won a majority in assembly elections in 2014 and formed the government. This government passed the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill banning beef in Maharashtra. Communalization of attitudes in the state is leading to conflicts and atmosphere of animosity.
4th January 2015, Mumbai:
In Lalbaug area of Mumbai, two groups of youth belonging to different communities got into an altercation. Some bikers were allegedly hit when a bike brushed passed a woman in the crowded area of Lalbaug market. This motorbike was part of the Eid-e-Milad-un- Nabi procession. After this incident the crowd stopped and roughened up any bikers wearing a skull cap or bearing flags. The police had to take help of social media to send messages urging people to not believe in rumors (The Indian Express, 2015). No casualty was reported (The Times of India, 2015).
15th January 2015, Pachora:
Communal violence was preceded by tension between groups of Muslim and Hindu youth in weekly market area. Initially a Muslim boy was beaten and next a Hindu boy assaulted. This was followed by confrontation of people from both communities. Six people were injured and the mob burned a car and other few two wheelers besides damaging property to the tune of Rs. 4-5 lakhs. The police detained 50 people from both communities (The Indian Express, 2015).
14th July 2015, Harshul:
The riot that took place in Harshul was primarily an Adivasi and non Adivasi conflict. Harshul has majority Adivasi population but they are not in a position of power. The other communities exploit them. The police especially pay no heed to the crimes against the Adivasis. On 7th July, the body of Bhaghirath Chowdhury, an Adivasi youth was allegedly found in the well of one Rizwan Akhtar. The police refused to take the body out of the well or register FIR initially. Due to the inaction of the police, the Adivasis organized a protest rally to demand police action and justice. This rally turned violent when the mob started systematically attacking the Muslim houses and shops. Over 20 such establishments were looted and vandalized. Incidentally some of the well placed Muslims were warned about the impending violence and thus they fled the town before the violence occurred (The Indian Express, 2015). Some pamphlets were also distributed. This indicates that the violence was planned. The police were also injured. One person died after being hit by a police bullet and numerous including 38 police were injured (The Indian Express, 2015).
Communal Violence in Karnataka:
Karnataka has remained communally tense amongst the southern states. This can be gauged by some revealing statistics. The coastal region of Karnataka has witnessed at least 153 incidents of communal violence from January to October 2015 alone (Hindustan Times, 2015). 36 incidents occurred between January 2015 and June 2015, leaving two dead and 123 injured (The Times of India, 2015). The Bajrang Dal and VHP have been actively brewing tensions as can be seen from the incidents of communal violence. The police has been found wanting in its role to prevent violence and to provide security.
23rd September 2015, Mudhol:
Communal violence took place during Ganesh Puja procession in Janata colony where the procession led by Shri Rama Sene reached a Mosque. A week earlier Shri Rama Sene had put a poster about the procession outside the Mosque. The Muslims in retaliation put a poster of Tipu Sultan. When the procession reached outside the Mosque it was noticed that adequate number of police were not deployed. Stone pelting ensued and followed by looting and burning of over 20 properties owned by Muslims by Shri Rama Sene. The violence was planned is indicated by the use of petrol bombs and burning tyres. Police arrested 90 persons in total, only 30 from Shri Rama Sene. Riots took place in Chikkodi, Surpur, Dharwad and Koujalagi in the same month (Hindustan Times, 2015).
27th October 2015, Nelliyadi:
Communal violence took place in this village near Mangalore when a Muslim barbar refused to shut his shop on Tuesdays. Bajrang Dal leader Ravi Ballya went to the shop and asked Salman to keep his shop shut on Tuesdays claiming that Hindus don’t cut hair on Tuesdays. But Salman refused. After this a mob led by Ravi Ballya attacked Salman’s shop along with other shops belonging to Muslims in Jumma Masjid complex. Another mob led by People’s Front of India retaliated by indulging in arson and vandalism. The police imposed curfew to bring the situation under control and arrested nine persons from both communities. Many were injured and damage worth lakhs was reported (Hindustan Times, 2015).
10th November 2015, Bengaluru:
Communal violence took place when Muslim group took out a procession to mark Tipu Sultan Jayanti which was opposed by Hindutva activists. A VHP activist died from sustaining injuries from stone pelting. The police resorted to lathicharge (The Indian Express, 2015).
Dabhade, N., & Engineer, I. (2015, December 1). Growing intolerance. Retrieved from Centre for Study of Society and Secularism>>Secular Perspective: http://www.csss-isla.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/December-1-15-2015.pdf
Mhatre, S., & Dabhade, N. (2015, September 15). Women’s voices from Atali. Retrieved from Centre for Study of Society and Secularism>>Secular Perspective: http://www.csss-isla.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Sept-16-30-2015.pdf
Centre for Study of Society and Secularism
[i][i] According to peace workers in Rajasthan more incidents of communal violence have occurred. However media reports have yielded only these two incidents.