Religious and ethnic minorities in India continue to face violence at the hands of Hindu groups that support the federal government led by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), according to a new report by Human Rights Watch.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has failed to prevent or credibly investigate growing mob attacks on religious minorities and marginalized communities, said the report released in New Delhi on Feb. 19.
Some critics have even accused Modi of turning India into “a republic of hate.”
The BJP’s political leaders, since forming the federal government in May 2014, “have increasingly used communal rhetoric” that spurred violence from vigilante groups, it said. They have also vowed to protect cows, a revered animal in Hinduism.
“Mob violence by extremist Hindu groups against minority communities, especially Muslims, continued throughout the year amid rumors that they traded or killed cows for beef,” according to the report.
Between May 2015 and December 2018, at least 44 people — 36 of them Muslims — were killed across 12 Indian states. “Over that same period, around 280 people were injured in over 100 different incidents across 20 states,” the report stated.
It said there were 254 documented incidents of crimes targeting religious minorities between January 2009 and October 2018, in which at least 91 people were killed and 579 injured.
About 90 percent of these attacks were reported after the BJP came to power in May 2014, and 66 percent occurred in BJP-run states. Muslims were victims in 62% of the cases, and Christians in 14 %. These include communal clashes, attacks on interfaith couples and violence related to protecting cows and religious conversions.
“A country’s government must understand that it should take care of the people irrespective of cast, creed or religion,” said Bishop Alex Vadakumthala of Kannur in the southern State of Kerala.