Hate Crime Watch is a database of religious-bias-motivated hate crime in India. The project, launched in October 2018, counts such crimes since 2009.
Even as India’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the federal organisation that tracks crimes across the country, collates information on a wide range of crimes, it does not count hate crimes–primarily because there are no specific laws to deal with such crimes. This contrasts with official data-collection in democracies with diverse populations, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, where the state is required to publish regular reports on hate crimes.
The project does not aspire to be an exhaustive record of hate violence in India. The project merely hopes to document the rising incidence, and any related patterns that emerge, so that the state takes notice and begins documenting such crimes.
An example of how this could be achieved is our database on cow-related violence (lynch.factchecker.in). Back in June 2017, we began tracking incidents of such violence. The NCRB had told the media in July 2017 that they intend to record data on lynchings. However, nine months into this year, the Bureau has not released any data on crimes in India for the year 2017.
A petition in the Supreme Court around lynchings saw the mention of our database as a reliable source of documentation of the pattern of violence.
For the purposes of this project, a hate crime is defined as incidents that are prima facie crimes committed either partly or wholly motivated by the religious identity of the victim(s).
For an incident to qualify as religion-based hate crime under our criteria, the act must qualify as a criminal act under Indian law. It is not necessary that formal criminal proceedings should have started for the fulfillment of this criterion; only that the available evidence should suggest that the act qualifies as a criminal act on the face of it. The target of a hate crime can be a person, groups of persons or property. The Hate Crime Watch does not document speech crimes.
Hate crimes are different from other violent crime because they affect not just the victims of such crimes, but also alienate entire communities.
As of April 2, 2019, Hate Crime Watch has recorded 282 attacks which resulted in 100 deaths and at least 704 injuries. Muslims–who comprise 14% of India’s population–were victims in 57% incidents, Christians–2% of the population–were victims in 15% cases. Hindus, constituting the majority or 80% of population, were victims in 13% cases.
In 12% or 30 incidents, religion of the victim was not reported
Considering only the 252 incidents where the religion of the victims was known, Muslims were victims in 64% attacks, Christians in 16% incidents and Hindus in 16% cases
Overall, of 282 cases, Hindus were alleged perpetrators in 56% cases, Muslims in 12% cases. In 85 cases, the religious identity of the perpetrator was not known.
Of the 196 incidents for which religion of the alleged perpetrator has been reported, 81% cases involved Hindus, 18% involved Muslims, and 1% involved Sikhs.
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