The German military theorist Carl Von Clausewitz said “War is nothing but the continuation of policy by other means” in his famous work “On War” published around 1832. As catchy as it may sound, the continuation of policy in the Indian democracy is dependable upon daily ‘violence’. In the past few years, violence by the government and other versatile non-state actors against civilians has increased, making India a laboratory of violence.

The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a real-time crisis mapping group, which specialises in processing disaggregated conflict data collection and analysis, shows that from January 2016 to October 2022, South Asia recorded almost 16,270 cases of anti-civilian violence, of which, 62.4% cases of violence happened only in India.

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Figure 1: The rising cases of anti-civilian violence in South Asia

Figure 1 shows that in 2016, 1,069 violent incidents steadfastly took a sharp rise in 2019 with 2,657 cases; gradually, this fell back to 1,119 such incidents in 2022. The annual increase in violent incidents started happening in 2016. Initially, factors like riots and protests were the primary reasons for the high numbers (ACLED, 2016). By 2019, there was an increase in mob violence incidents in India by 57%. This was before the Lok Sabha elections, where greater tussle between political parties to win the elections led to surmounting political violence. This points to how politics has become criminalized over the years (ACLED, 2019). Interestingly, in 2021, the coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions pacified violence among state and non-state actors (ACLED, 2021). However, in 2022, this violence is increasing again. Data suggests that  India records approximately 4-5 cases of civilian violence each day. Add the number of unregistered cases, and this number would be much higher.

The surge in violence is a matter of grave concern. What is even more concerning is that the state has not only failed to contain these incidents, but it has also acted as an inheritor of violence in some cases. On 24th February 2020, during the Delhi pogrom, a video surfaced where five injured people were lying on the ground surrounded by the Delhi police. The footage showed them being beaten and forced to sing the national anthem. Those injured were Muslims, and one of them named Faizan passed from the brutal attack.

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