communal violence


The Land of the Gods, a term endearingly given to the state that I call my hometown, has been increasingly building its sanctity by driving away its Muslim population. The culmination of this is finally seen in the burning of Haldwani. This piece questions this ‘sanctity’, a familiar rhetoric of casteism and now islamophobia. 

As we speak, the Haldwani region finds itself engulfed in the searing flames of communal violence, a firestorm that had been kindled long ago that is consuming its Muslim citizens, leaving behind only ashes of division and hatred. Around 300 Muslims in Bhanbhoolpoora, the epicentre of Haldwani violence, had to leave behind their homes and flee for their lives. Internet service in the areas has been revoked, curfews have been imposed, and cases of police brutality are coming out. The official death toll has been recorded at 6, but as usually happens with unreported deaths in communal violence, the locals fear the count is much higher. Due to the internet bans and curfews, it is hard to get the true picture on the ground. The state of Uttarakhand is burning; the alarms of doomsday are going off. The demolition of Maryam Masjid and Abdul Razzaq Zakariya Madrasa has led to large-scale violence breaking out in Haldwani. Civil rights groups, residents, and news outlets have pointed out how the demolition had been rushed, despite the matter being subjudice, and how legal measures had been violated. The disputed structure had been sealed on February 4th by the administration, and the demolition was to be halted until the final verdict of the court. Abdul Malik, the owner of the land, moved to court on February 6. The matter was taken up on February 8th and scheduled for a hearing on February 14th; however, the administration went ahead with the demolition on February 8th itself. It has also emerged that the administration and the police failed to act on the intelligence report recommendations that could have prevented this violence escalation. Meanwhile, CM Pushkar Singh Dhami has announced that a police station will be built on the ‘freed’ land. 

It must be noted that the land of Bhanbhoolpoora has been disputed for a few months, where eviction of the residents and demolition of construction were ordered by the High Court for ‘encroaching’ on railway land. The Supreme Court had heard the petitions of distressed residents who presented their documents and then stayed the order of the High Court, asserting the need to look at the human angle of the problem and that, ‘”There needs to be clarity on whether complete land vests in railways or what land belongs to the state… 50,000 people cannot be evicted overnight.”

Saira Shah Alim, an activist, had pointed out how it is only the Muslim areas that are being targeted and had written,

When it comes to evictions, especially the ones that would make people homeless, an absence of legal title does not mean that a resident is without any rights and can simply be turfed off the land. I firmly believe that no human is illegal, so how can any building or structure be more important than human lives? Have we even given thought to where these families will go? Have we, as a nation, started taking pride in the number of people that we get to disenfranchise and render homeless each year? There has to be a method to the madness.”

As the fact-finding team report led by the Association for Protection of Civil Rights and Karawan-e-Mohabbat has pointed out, the Haldwani riots are not an isolated incident spurning out of nowhere but a culmination of the divisive rhetoric and calls for public boycotts of Muslims by the state government that have been fuelled in recent years. This includes the unsupported discourse, propagated by the CM, that Muslims are devising a series of ‘jihads’ against the Hindu population, including land jihad, love jihad, vyapar jihad, mazaar jihad, etc., aided by another rhetoric that the Muslim population has sharply risen, threatening to change the demographic of the state. With open calls for establishing a ‘hindu rashtra’ starting from Uttarakhand by ministers and sants alike, it is clear that we are moving towards ethnic cleansing, targeting, and suppression of the Muslim population in this politicised ‘Devbhoomi’. Uttarakhand was carved to make space for the indigenous people and tribes of the hills, but this newly popularised and politicised version of ‘Devbhoomi’ is built on the idea that the land of Uttrakhand, home to one of the char-dhams of India, Badrinath, the other char-dhams of Uttarakhand, and many more places of Hindu religious significance, is a land sacred to Hindus, and Muslims are polluting this sanctity. The Muslims are once again branded as the ‘other’ and the ‘outsiders’. Even the district president of the minority cell of the BJP, Mohammad Zahid, had to flee for his safety. It makes us wonder: if not the land where their families have lived across generations, then where do the Muslims belong?

What is more regrettable is that ordinary Hindu citizens have started giving into this large-scale mobilisation and buying the narrative that their religion, women, livelihood, and land are all threatened by this ‘rise’ in the Muslim population. This post, along with many such targeted posts that started widely circulating amidst the Haldwani violence, is just a testament to how the Hindu citizens feel ‘threatened’ by the sudden Muslim population rise. The post has been refuted as yet another fake news story. According to news reports, Census 2021 has been postponed to 2024–25. As of now, the recent official demographic figures of Haldwani are unknown, and yet leaders are quick to make up their own demographics. Even the Purola town news of ‘‘love jihad’ was later found to be sensationalised, and the communal angle was inserted forcefully in an abduction by a duo, one of whom was a Muslim and the other a Hindu. Yet the damage was done. This sensationalised love-jihad ploy was widely popularised by Hindutva organisations and media houses; the Muslim residents, the ‘love jihadis’, had to flee, and their livelihoods were snatched. Moreover, isn’t ‘love jihad’ a reinforcement of Brahminical purity that denies all agency and privacy to their women and places the sanctity of their religious honour in the sexuality of the woman? 

I wonder, what more would it take for the people to see the clear vilification and extermination of the Muslims of Uttarakhand? Does Devbhoomi leave no space for its Muslim children to be buried? Do our benevolent gods and holy rivers actually require cleansing from Muslim blood? As someone whose roots lie in Uttarakhand, I watch my state burn more every day, thinking that perhaps a downpour of redemption can quell the flames of strife.

Read Also: The Fear of Being Identified

Featured Image Credits: PTI

Sarah Nautiyal

[email protected]


One after another, Indian states are burning in the fire of communal violence while we sit in our homes, unaware that these flames can reach our doors at any time. While data highlights a decreasing trend in communal violence, the washed-away ash and walls of half-burnt houses convey a rather different image. 

For the past 5 months, the north-eastern state of Manipur has been constantly burning in the flames of communal violence. According to the official data, the violence killed around 200 people and displaced more than 70,000 people. The north-eastern state continued to burn while the majority of Indians were occupied watching the live telecast of the G20 summit. Not just Manipur, but numerous Indian states experienced communal clashes in 2023, with major incidents recorded during the Ram Navami festival. Nevertheless, according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there has been a constant decline in violence in India. So, is there really a steady decline, or are we reading the graph upside-down?

According to the data by the NCRB, during 2014-2017, 3508 incidents of communal violence were reported in the country, which claimed the lives of 75 people. However, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) answers in the Lok Sabha, India saw 2920 instances of intercommunal violence, which resulted in the deaths of 389 people. This significant discrepancy between the NCRB and MHA statistics is one of the main causes of scepticism about the decline in incidences of communal violence. The government claims that the primary cause of the data mismatch is the grouping of the data. NCRB gathers police-registered (FIR) incidents of communal violence from states, and numerous FIRs might be filed in the same occurrence, but MHA data is not dependent on FIR. 

This argument appears logical, yet the government’s own data pulls it into doubt. NCRB data, according to this theory, should be greater than MHA figures. However, according to 2017 data, the NCRB documented 723 incidents and 16 deaths, whereas MHA data shows 823 cases and 111 deaths due to communal violence in India. Factly writes,

For 2014, there was a discrepancy between the numbers reported by the NCRB and MHA for as many as 23 states/UTs. Strangely, in states such as Haryana, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal, the numbers reported by the NCRB were way higher than the ones reported by the MHA, whereas in states such as Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh, the MHA numbers were higher than those reported by the NCRB.

This trend was repeated in 2015 and 2016, where the discrepancy was observed in as many as 24 and 25  states/UTs respectively.

Another substantial reason to question the reliability of the data is that the NCRB does not collect disaggregated data on attacks against certain communities. This results in the formation of a hazy image of communal violence in India. According to data from the United Christian Forum (UCF), 525 attacks on Christians took place in India during the first eight months of 2023. This data on attacks on only one community in 8 months outnumbers NCRB data on communal violence incidents in the year 2021.

What’s concerning here is not just the reliability of the data but also the government’s refutation of communal violence in the country. Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, stated that no riots occurred in the state between 2017 and 2021. However, according to NCRB data, there were 35,040 incidents of rioting between 2017 and 2021.In the last two to three years, there has been not only rebuttal but also systematic planned action against a specific community in the aftermath of communal conflicts. Since the 2020 Delhi riots, there has been a spike in false police charges against Muslims, as well as arbitrary demolitions of their properties.

While the government and its statistics are busy establishing a decrease in communal violence, a report by the Pew Research Centre graded India 9.4/10, first on the Social Holistics Index (SHI) 2020, worse than its own score of 2019. (A High score indicates an increase in communal clashes.)

A recent report by the NCRB reveals a steady decline in the last 50 years. What’s questionable is a sharp decline in cases during every NDA’s regime and an increase in cases during the UPA’s rule. Not only this, but reports from several International Human Rights Organisations (IHRO) concerned with a decrease in religious freedom in the nation conflict with data indicating religious harmony and a decline in communal violence.

While multiple IHRO reports labelled India an “Electoral Autocracy”, and demoted it on the Democracy Index, the Indian government refuses to recognise or debate any of these reports. The growing religious hostility we witness around us raises the question, “Are we really heading towards communal harmony, or is this just a mirage?”

Read also: The Fear of Being Identified

Featured Image Credits: The Wire

Dhruv Bhati
[email protected]

This report deals with the Muzzafarnagar episode of communal hate mongering, the underlying concerns that it raises for our society in general and the reaction of Student bodies like AISA and SFI that followed suit.

On  24th August ,  a media clip took the political climate of the country by storm as it brought  into picture the visceral steeping of hate mongering in an educational setup in Muzzafarnagar, Uttar Pradesh. 

The video that stirred the controversy featured two adults — one who still remains to be identified and the other being Tripti Tyagi along with a 7 year old Muslim boy who has been at the receiving end of physical and verbal abuse amongst his classmates, his identity remains undisclosed due to privacy  concerns. The video showed her instigating physical harm to a Muslim student by ordaining fellow students to slap him. To further accentuate the issue the teacher has also been recorded openly inciting a derogatory religious commentary .  

The incident was reported from Neha Public School , in Khubbapur District under Mansurpur Police Station jurisdiction , it was uploaded on social media by the cousin of the 7 year old Muslim boy who has been at the receiving end of the violation .

The video spurred immediate reaction pouring in from the spectrum of political enthusiasts . Calls were made for immediate action to be taken against Tripti Tyagi for inciting violence and discrimination against Muslims in the context of increasing religious intolerance in the country . The Students’ Federation of India (SFI) issued its statement and called out the ‘sangh priwar’ for this national disgrace, urging the Supreme Court to take immediate action against this and called for a week long nationwide campaign from 28th August to 5th September against the hate politics . All India Students’ Association (AISA) urged people to raise their voices for justice and humanity through the protest they organized on 26th August at 6 pm from Gupta Chowk to Arts Faculty for the immediate arrest of Tripti Tyagi . AISA DU Vice President Aditya addressed the gathering by saying  “Tripta Tyagi is a symptom of the hatred that BJP has spread across the country. They have created a community of criminals and they take pride in it . We the students of the country will fight this battle against communalism head on and bear the torch for secularism.”

Various political parties have laid out their strong worded statements for the same with heated arguments pouring on the social media site X .  While the essence of the incident might have felt a little muddled in the political blame game of the ruling and the opposition class , open solicitations were made regarding the discrimination the 7 year old student had faced and the need for suo moto action . In his statement , Circle Officer Ravishankar has assured that the police was actively following up on the incident and actions regarding the same would be issued soon on 25th August , 2023.

Basic Shiksha Adhikari, Shubham Shukla also assured that the person and the institution would both be brought under question following the incident . The Bal Kalyan Samiti initiated counseling for the associated children and parents. While a number of political representatives assembled in Muzzafarpur to give their statements and support poured out from pan India, Tripti Tyagi took to social media via a video message where she is seen asking for forgiveness with folded hands.  She asserts that the boy refused to do his homework and her being physically unfit she asked a fellow student to slap him as his parents had themselves requested to be strict with the child. The child’s father upon being interviewed has ascertained that there has been no religious angle but just harassment of his child by physically violating him . 

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights Chairperson, Priyank Kangnoo said instructions have been issued to take action on this matter. While there is an ongoing investigatio , a second investigation has also been launched after the victim’s family agreed to file complaint following initial hesitation .

The way the issue blew up connotates the various underlying notions of how religious paranoia seeps into a society that boasts of its diversity.  The very fact that learning institutions  meant to foster harmony could instead promote hate mongering in young vulnerable minds is both disturbing and concerning, but to have a populace that suffers from it simply based on their religious identity is nothing but pitiful for any nation. 

Another evident problem that this issue brought into picture is the spread of misinformation and the way it is milked by interested parties in their favour. The viral social media clip had people giving out death threats and hate comments in X threads even before all the facets of the issue were made public . While political parties jostled over the blame game , the voice of the actual victim seemed somewhat subdued .


Read also: https://dubeat.com/2020/02/25/du-gathers-to-protest-against-communal-violence-in-north-east-delhi/


Image credits :  AISA 


Priya Shandilya

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