A protest against India’s decision to ban the purchase and sale of cattle from animal markets for slaughter in Bangalore, India in 2017. Photo: EPA


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.

It is often difficult to ascertain the exact number of such killings as India’s laws do not make a distinction between cases of murder and lynchings, so lynching cases are not reflected in official crime statistics.
The Supreme Court in 2018 asked the central government to enact a law against lynching and directed states to take steps to address them. These include police patrolling of vulnerable areas with an officer designated to monitor such crimes in each district, creating special courts to complete trials within six months, and providing compensation to victims or their families.
This story was originally published in scmp.com . Read the full story here