On October 31, The Washington Post published a story on hate crimes in India, titled Rising Hate in India. It makes some very sweeping statements about hate crimes in India like hate crime is rising in India since Narendra Modi came to power, and victims of such hate crimes are overwhelmingly Muslims, while the perpetrators are mostly Hindus.
If a major publication like Washington Post has made such statement about India, they must have solid data to back it up, one would assume. But the story is not based on any official data about hate crimes, neither it is based on any primary survey on the topic. The entire article has been written based on so-called hate crime data compiled by a website called Indiaspend.com.
If we see the data provided by the website, it is evident even their data is not based on any primary source. They have not done any field study to label crimes as hate crimes in their database. Their entire database is based on online news reports published by English language media in India. Such reports by mainstream media already suffer from their bias, media chooses what to report and how to report, they publish the identity of victims and preparators in select cases while hiding in others to suit the narrative they are trying to peddle. If that was not enough, now Indiaspend has added their interpretation on those reports to create their so-called database, which is the sole basis of the article by the Post.
The Washington Post article starts with how one Alimuddin Ansari, who was smuggling cattle, was attacked by a mob. Now, of course, no one should take law in their own hand, but how can the fact be ignored that the person was smuggling cattle, an illegal activity? A lot of such smuggled cattle are actually stolen animals, and people tend to get agitated when they see such stolen cattle are transported. The Post wants to portray that people are indulging in cow-related violence only because Hindus consider cow as a sacred animal, the writers fail to recognise that cattle is also a property, a source of income and livelihood. Cattle are not cheap, and stealing cow is an as big crime as stealing other properties.
Now coming to Indiaspend data. A cursory glance will tell how the data was picked up selectively to build up the narrative of Hindus attacking Muslims. They have ignored cow related violence where victims are Hindus, and even painted other routine crimes as cow related hate crimes.
In August this year, two Sadhus were gruesomely murdered by a mob because they were protesting against cow slaughter. Among the 11 persons who committed the crime, at least 8 of them were Muslims. But Indiaspend fails to include this incident in their ‘database’, while random scuffles and street fights, or even road accidents, are labelled as religious hate crimes.
For example, they have listed an incident that had happened in June 2016 in Uttar Pradesh’s Firozabad in their data. The detail of the incident shows that when 22 cattle were being smuggled in a van, the driver decided to take a detour to avoid a police checkpoint. While doing so the vehicle had overturned and fallen into a drain, killing 11 animals and injuring the rest.
According to the report based on which it was included in the database, four smugglers were travelling in the vehicle, and when police arrived at the accident spot they arrested one person, but other three smugglers had already fled the scene. The report says that villagers in the area tried to prevent police from taking the arrested, but it does not say anything about the smuggles being attacked by a mob.
IndiaSpend has given a complete makeover to this incident, saying that the smugglers were attacked “Mob of self-appointed cow protectors”. For them, the arrested person is a victim. Police had filed FIR against 4 smugglers, but for the so-called hate crime recorders they are the victims and the villagers are the criminals who actually were not even involved in the incident. And this is the kind of database that becomes base for spreading anti-India propaganda by a reputed publication like Washington Post.
In another story, a Muslim woman who runs a cow-shelter was attacked and she was also being sent threatening messages on phone. In the database, the identity of the attacker is reported as ‘not known’.
If we follow the news link, it becomes clear that family members of the woman were behind the attack, as alleged by the woman herself. She says “I was thrashed and abused by my in-laws for being associated with cow protection and for speaking against triple talaq”. Her family members, who are obviously Muslim, attacked her, but the identity is ‘not known’ because they are not Hindus so it does not fit the narrative.
One wonders, in the 94 incidents included in the database, how many hides the identity of the perpetrators despite being known.
In Delhi this year, a Hindu boy was killed for being in a relationship with a Muslim girl. The boy was killed by family members of the girl, who stabbed the boy and slit his throat. While this incident is mentioned in the IndiaSpend data, a similar incident from Faridabad where a Hindu man, Sanjay Kumar was killed by his Muslim ex-wife’s family is not mentioned.
Similarly, the incident of a woman killed by her own father and brother for being in a relationship with a Hindu man is also not a hate crime according to the website.
The Indiaspend database is filled with incidents of cow smugglers being attacked by people. Although such attacks are not justified, it is also wrong to label all of them as a hate crime. They are mostly the cases of instant mob justice, where people thrash thieves, pickpockets etc are on the spot. Many times, the people don’t even know the identity of the smugglers.
The database also includes cases of routine crimes involving cattle traders. If a cattle trader is assaulted for some other reason, it has been labelled hate crime and the crime is linked to the trade of the victim, even when the police has said that there is no such link.
On the other hand, serious hate crimes like murder involving Hindu victims have been omitted from the database. And such a biased database becomes the sole base for a publication like Washington post to paint the Hindus of India as a bloodthirsty hate-mongering tribe. The question arises, what is their agenda?