In 2017, an alarming number of alleged hate crimes – including assault, rape and murder – were reported against people from marginalized groups, especially Dalits and Muslims, said Amnesty International India today, as it launched an interactive data website, ‘Halt the Hate’.
“The first step to ensuring justice and ending impunity for hate crimes – where people are targeted because of their membership of a particular group – is to highlight their occurrence,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director, Amnesty International India.
“Our website aims to draw attention to some of these crimes by tracking and documenting them. Many of these incidents are deeply disturbing: Dalits have been attacked for merely sporting moustaches, and Muslims lynched for transporting cattle. Dalit women have been branded as witches, and raped and killed.
“Unfortunately, the extent of hate crime in India is unknown because the law – with some exceptions – does not recognize hate crimes as specific offences. The police need to take steps to unmask any potentially discriminatory motive in a crime, and political leaders must be more vocal in denouncing such violence.”
‘Halt the Hate’ website documents alleged hate crimes against Dalits, Adivasis, members of racial or religious minority groups, transgender persons, and other marginalized people which are reported in mainstream English and Hindi media. It documents 141 incidents of alleged hate crimes against Dalits and 44 against Muslims in 2017, including 69 incidents of killings where at least 146 people were killed. 35 incidents were found where women from these groups or transgender persons faced sexual violence.
The website documents alleged hate crimes from September 2015, when Mohammad Akhlaq was killed in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, for allegedly killing a cow. Cow-related violence and so-called ‘honour’ killings were among the common instances of alleged hate crimes. Uttar Pradesh was the state with the most such incidents in 2016 and 2017. In 2016, 237 alleged hate crimes were recorded. Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Gujarat recorded the most incidents.
“The data on our website is just a snapshot of alleged hate crimes in India. Many incidents are not reported in the media. While criminal investigations have been initiated in some cases, too many have gone unpunished. Authorities need to do much more to ensure justice for victims and their families,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director, Amnesty International India.
The ‘Halt the Hate’ website was designed by the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bengaluru.