By Danish Raza / SCMP
Mob killings fuelled by religious hatred have been on the rise in India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took power in 2014, with most incidents related to alleged slaughter of cows, an animal considered sacred by many Hindus.
In the latest such incident, a BJP lawmaker is shown on video making a controversial statement about the number of people killed by cow vigilantes.
“We have so far killed five people,” Gyan Dev Ahuja says in the video that went viral at the end of August, referring to the lynching of two men, Pehlu Khan and Rakbar Khan, by cow vigilantes in 2017 and 2018.
The BJP has tried to distance itself from Ahuja’s remarks, saying that those were “his own views”, and maintained that it was unfair to say that hate crimes have intensified under Modi, given a lack of government data to back the claim.
On other occasions, party leaders have said that while such killings are unfortunate, there was no need for a new separate federal law to deal with the problem.
According to data journalism website IndiaSpend, 28 people were killed in cow-related violence between 2010 and 2017. Of those, about 90 per cent were reported after Modi took office in May 2014, and about half occurred in states with governments dominated by BJP.