I met Abdul Wazid a few days after his son had been lynched by a mob in a low-income neighbourhood in north-east Delhi last September. “They killed my son so cruelly,” he sobbed as I held his hands. “He was such a good son to me. Think of it: they killed him only because he ate a banana from a Ganesh pandal.”

The old man was broken and inconsolable.

His grief haunts me even months later when I look back on the sombre year that we just left behind.

It was a year in which Israel, in the words of its prime minister, rained hellfire on the Gaza Strip. Relentless shelling in civilian localities killed more than 8,000 children and maimed thousands more. Hospitals were bombed, more buildings were destroyed at a faster rate than in any war this century, and over 85% of the people have been forced to flee their homes but have nowhere to go.

It was a year in which Manipur was transformed into the arena of a ferocious civil war between the Meitei and Kuki-Zo communities, the kind that free India has not witnessed. Women, men and children were slaughtered and raped and thousands of villages and homes vandalised and burned.

It was also a year in which the poisons of religious hatred colonised yet more hearts and minds across north India.

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