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Basic data analysis shows that Delhi riots were not a ‘pogrom’

India has actually seen a pogrom. Back in 1984, when over 3,000 members of one community were killed but not a single member from any other community

We’ve heard this smear over and over again. The claim that the Delhi riots of Feb 2020 were a ‘pogrom.’ At first, they would not even accept that people of both communities had suffered loss of life. Eventually, they had to concede that much. The argument promptly evolved to something like this:

More victims belonged to community X and therefore, the Delhi riots had to be a pogrom.

Except we can debunk this theory with basic data analysis. More at the level of common sense.

Let us step back from rhetoric, reduce passions and focus on facts. In the terrible tragedy of the Delhi riots, there was a loss of 51 lives. Of these, 36 persons belonged to Community X and 15 persons belonged to Community Y. The liberal argument goes thus: We know that 36 is greater than 15 and this proves that the riot was a pogrom against Community X.

Let us see what happens to this argument when we apply common sense. Suppose there are 1000 people who pick up a street fight with another group of 1000 people. Which side would you expect to have higher casualties?

Neither, you would say. Since the number of people on the two sides is equal, you would expect both sides to inflict roughly equal damage on each other.

Now let us change the equation somewhat. What if a crowd of 2000 people got into a fight with a crowd of 1000 people? Which side would have more casualties?

It’s easy to see. The side that is numerically weaker would suffer a higher number of casualties. How much more? If it is 2000 vs 1000, the numerically weaker side would suffer roughly twice as many casualties as the other.

Now let us look at the population of Delhi. Roughly speaking, 82% of people belong to Community X and 13% of people belong to Community Y (remaining 5% belong to other groups). If a fight broke out between the two groups, you would expect therefore that the casualties among X would be four times the number of casualties among Y.

A little over 6:1 : That is the ratio you would expect.

Again, this is a very simple minded estimate, but fair enough. It works because the number of casualties is very small compared to the total population of either community.

So 6:1 is the ratio you would expect to see. Now what was the observed ratio in the Delhi riots?

It was 36 from X community and 15 from Y community, a ratio of 2.4:1, which is substantially less than 6:1.

So how could it have been a pogrom against X? Sure, X suffered more casualties, but you have to adjust for the fact that community X was numerically weaker by a factor of 4! In any street fight, X would suffer more casualties than Y. That does not prove it was a pogrom.

Wait! We haven’t even spoken about the police yet. The liberal accusation is that this was a ‘pogrom,’ with the police actively supporting community Y.

But we have already established that in any street face off, with police not favoring any side, the ratio in casualties would be 6:1.

Now if you say that the police was actively helping community Y carry out a pogrom, what would happen to this 6:1 ratio? Would it go higher or lower?

Higher, obviously. Community Y already has the numerical advantage. If the police were to join in on their side, they would inflict even more casualties on X. The ratio would go up, maybe to 7:1 or more.

But it didn’t. In fact, it was much less than 6:1. It was 2.4:1!

Did members of community Y pre-plan the riots? Again, if Y had the advantage of pre-planning along with its numerical advantage, the ratio would be higher than 6:1, not lower!

So you have to reject both of these claims from liberals. No, the police definitely did not side with community Y. Nor did members of community Y have the thing pre-planned.

Delhi riots were terrible and tragic. But they were NOT a pogrom. Period.

Now let us ask how the ratio could have declined from the expected 6:1 to the observed 2.4:1. There are basically two possibilities.

(1) The Delhi Police worked very hard to shield minority communities from violence. This blunted the numerical advantage of the majority during the riots.

(2) Some leaders of the minority community had pre-planned the violence. So when the riots broke out, the majority community was taken by surprise and hence they suffered more casualties than expected.

Both of these explanations would reduce the ‘pogrom’ theory to dust. If you can come up with another explanation for the numbers being what they are, I am eager to listen.

Finally, let us ask : who had the motive? Who would gain from Delhi going up in smoke exactly as the President of the United States is visiting?

Secular leaders had motive. The casualty figures from the Delhi riots suggest that secular leaders had the advantage of pre-planning when the violence began. We even have videos of riot ammunition being dumped from the homes of secular leaders. Delhi riots are an open and shut case. This is not a pogrom.

India has actually seen a pogrom. Back in 1984, when over 3,000 members of one community were killed but not a single member from any other community. That was not a riot, not two groups of people fighting. That was state-sponsored violence.

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

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