New Delhi: By helping offenders, detaining victims and failing to register first information reports (FIRs) in some cases, law enforcement agencies played a role in furthering hate crimes last year, a new report published by the United States-based NGO, Council on Minority Rights in India (CMRI), says.
The ‘Religious Minorities in India’ report was launched by the CMRI at the Press Club of India in New Delhi on November 20 and covers a number of topics related to the condition of India’s religious minorities: instances of hate crimes against minorities; their portrayal in the media; the intersectional nature of oppression; and more.
The report was released by lawyer Kawalpreet Kaur and student activists Safoora Zargar, Nidha Parveen, Sharjeel Usmani and Tazeen Junaid. The latter three were involved in compiling the report. The launch was presided over by senior advocate Colin Gonsalves.
‘More incidents in BJP-ruled states’
In a chapter on hate crimes, the report details the ways in which the actions of law enforcement agencies, in some cases, furthered hate crimes. In this chapter, the report records that based on both primary and secondary data, 294 cases of hate crimes against Christians, Muslims and Sikhs were recorded in India in 2021. Of these, the majority of crimes (192) were recorded against Muslims, 95 against Christians and seven against Sikhs.
The Christian community was predominantly targeted on allegations of forceful conversion while the Muslim community was chiefly targeted for inter-faith relationships and allegations of cow slaughter, the report says. In most instances, the perpetrators were right-wing vigilantes or Hindu extremist groups, it says. “There is a clear pattern which suggests that incidents of hate crime against religious minorities have occurred largely in BJP-ruled states,” the report adds.
“Hate crimes against Sikhs are not documented at all and are not reported by news media as well. During our primary research for cases of hate crimes against members of the Sikh community, we found several cases of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings,” the authors say.
The role of law enforcement
The role of law enforcement agencies, in the absence of a “definite meaning and insufficient legal provisions to implicate offenders of hate crime”, is effectively driven by discretion, the report says. “There is a definite lack of action on part of the law enforcement against perpetrators of hate crimes that reveals a bigger pattern of discrimination in the criminal-judicial system,” it says.
The record also shows a “clear bias” of the police by detaining or arresting the victims of hate crimes, it says, adding that there are also incidents of police “helping the offenders in a crime or overlooking the offence that is committed”.
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