Tabrez Ansari’s Death and the Steady Damage to Secularism in India

Tabrez Ansari, age 22, was killed by a mob last week in Jharkhand | Image Credit : The Indian Express

The growing attacks on the minorities in recent times points towards growing intolerance and the aggravating hatred towards people from the religious minorities.  If we were to look at the data from the years between 2009-2019 what we would realise is that these ten years have not been easy for the people from the minorities and they have suffered the wrath of growing intolerance in the Indian society. The data indicates that in 59% of cases of violence against the minorities, the victims were Muslims. The statistics also reveal that 28% of the crimes that were perpetrated against them were related to alleged cattle theft and slaughter.

The recent death of yet another man in Jharkhand due to sustained assault and beating by a mob cannot be seen as a case in isolation but rather as only an addition to the ever growing cases of atrocities against the religious minorities to have occurred in the last couple of years.  Data from the website Factchecker.in tells us that this is the 11th incidence of hate violence in this year where innocent people have been beaten up and attacked by mob for allegations and rumours that have no basis.  The website informs us that so far four people have been killed and 22 others have been injured as a result of such mob violence.

In the last ten years, 297 cases of hate crime have been reported from the various states across India. These instances have led to the death of 98 people and have caused injury for 722 people.

The data also reveals that especially within the last few years the intolerance towards the minorities has amplified and the increase in the cases of mob violence can be clearly witnessed.  Since 2015, 121 cases of mob violence based on allegations of cattle theft and slaughter have taken place.  It is also important to note that there were only six such incidents that have been reported between 2012-2014.

What is shocking to see is that between 2009-2019, there has been a steady increase in the number of incidences of violence against the Muslims. In fact, as the date points 59% of all the cases of violence against the minorities were targeted towards the Muslims and among them 28% were carried out due to allegations of cow theft and slaughter.  The data shows that 66% of all these cases unfolded in the BJP ruled states and 16% took place in Congress ruled states.

Therefore the data helps us to understand that the killing of Tabrez Ansari in Jharkhand by a mob, who suspected him of theft, cannot be seen in isolation.  He had been tied to a pole and beaten for several hours before succumbing to injury. Videos from the incident show that he was compelled to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Jai Hanuman’ slogans repeatedly.  There has been a countrywide outrage over the attack.  His family has appealed that action be taken against everyone involved including the police and the doctors.

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