69% Incidents of Cow-Related Violence in India Reported From UP
Since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Yogi Adityanath came to power in Uttar Pradesh in March 2017, India’s most populous state has recorded 69% of the country’s cases of bovine-related violence, according to a FactChecker.in database that tracks such crimes.
With four deaths in 21 attacks in 2018 – with the lynchings of 45-year-old Qasim Qureshi in Hapur (western UP), 20-year-old Shahrukh Khan in Bareilly (northern UP), and the latest murder of a police inspector and a bystander – UP has emerged as the deadliest state for bovine-related hate violence and reports more attacks than any other state. In 2017, West Bengal, with five dead, topped the death charts, as we had reported on 1 September 2017.
Before March 2017, when Adityanath came to power, UP recorded five incidents of bovine-related hate violence. After that, till 3 December 2018, the state has now recorded 11 cases of bovine-related hate violence.
With less than 30 days to go to the end of the year and with 10 deaths in 21 attacks this year, India is one murder away from equaling the 2017 death toll – the deadliest year since 2010 (starting year of our database) – in bovine-related hate violence. These attacks are also becoming deadlier, according to patterns emerging from our data.
The latest attack on 3 December 2018 was the murder of police inspector Subodh Kumar Singh, who was shot in the head – likely with his own firearm – by alleged cow vigilantes at a field in western UP’s Bulandshahr. They were apparently incensed by the discovery of cow carcasses.
A video clip on social media showed the slain inspector’s body hanging out of his official vehicle as protesters recorded the scene while gunshots rang in the background. Singh, 47, was once the officer who had investigated the 28 September 2015 lynching of Mohammed Akhlaq – father of an Indian Air Force serviceman – in Dadri, western UP, before he was transferred to Varanasi in November 2015.
UP Cop Could ‘See Right Through the Farce’
“Singh was instrumental in the investigation into the Akhlaq-lynching case,” Asad Hayat, a lawyer who has appeared for Akhlaq’s family and other lynching victims, told FactChecker.in.
“Singh knew very well what these people can do to incite violence, and that’s why they tried to attack him,” said Hayat. “He knew how to see right through the farce.”
“If the mob had found meat the previous night, why didn’t they call the police immediately to the spot,” asked Hayat. “If they really cared about cow slaughter, why would they wait till the next day, gather support from Hindutva groups to come rage at the police station?”
It would be premature to say inspector Singh was the target of the murder, UP Additional Director General (Meerut zone), Prashant Kumar, told FactChecker.in. “Since Singh was posted in the region during the time of the Akhlaq lynching case, he was the investigating officer, but he worked on it for barely a month-and-a-half before his transfer – he did not even submit the chargesheet,” Kumar said. A special investigation team (SIT) would probe the murder, he added.
“While it would be premature to say this was targeted, sometimes what prima facie doesn’t appear true, can turn out to be so later, so I cannot comment,” said Kumar. “The SIT should be able to take a holistic call on this.”
The rising trend of violence, since the Yogi Adityanath-BJP government came to power in UP, echoes one of the primary findings of our database: Since 2010, India has reported 97 bovine-related hate crimes – 98% of these took place after 2014, when the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power at the Centre.
As India’s largest state, UP, with over 200 million people, accounts for 16% of the country’s population. In 2018, the state reported 40% of deaths (four of 10) and 29% of attacks (six of 21) over cow-protection.
In 2017, while UP reported the most attacks (5) of this kind, it recorded no deaths. This year, with six cases and four deaths, fatalities have reached its previous peak of 2015, when the state reported three cases and four deaths.
Such Attacks Becoming Deadlier
Attacks by cow vigilantes have become deadlier, according to patterns emerging from our data. The chance of such mob violence ending in casualties has risen by 18 percentage points, from 30% in 2017 – the deadliest year since 2010 (11 deaths in 37 cases) – to 48% in 2018 (10 deaths in 21 cases).
Around 55% of the people attacked and 86% of those killed in bovine-related hate violence are Muslim, who make up 14% of India’s population, our database showed.
Cattle carcasses have sparked violence in Bulandshahr before, our database showed.
In August 2017, days before Eid, the carcass of a cow was found floating in a local pond. Soon, a mob attacked a nearby Muslim-dominated village, Adauli, less than 50 km from the latest crime. The men beat residents, vandalised homes and ransacked two places of worship, The Times of India reported on 26 August 2017.
(This story has been published in an arrangement with FactCheker.)
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