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Mainstream, VOL LX No 3, New Delhi, January 8, 2022

Hate Crimes in a BJP-ruled State | Arup Kumar Sen

Friday 7 January 2022, by Arup Kumar Sen

Hate crimes against minority communities have become an organic part of our polity after the BJP came to power at the Centre and in different states.

Very recently, PUCL, Karnataka, has documented 39 incidents of hate crimes against the Christians in the State in its Report — Criminalising the Practice of Faith (December 2021). The crimes took place in the time span of January to November 2021.

In most cases, the Christians have been forced to shut down their places of worship and stop assembling for their Sunday prayers. The pastors are threatened by the Hindutva groups to stop the prayer meetings. This culture of hate has spread into the Christian neighbourhoods: “What is particularly alarming is the discrimination and social boycott that Christians have faced from persons who are not part of these Hindutva organisations such as neighbours, landowners, employers, small businesses like grocery stores, in schools, in their localities”.

There is a distinct caste dimension of this anti-Christian violence in Karnataka: “In almost all instances where prayer meetings were disrupted or attacked, a common pattern is that the language used in the verbal abuse primarily consisted of casteist slurs. These casteist slurs must be seen in the context that Christians in rural India largely comprise of daily wage workers, agricultural labourers and people from Dalit communities. 70 % of India’s Catholics are Dalits and untouchables”.

The women are also not spared in the attacks of Hindutva forces: “A common pattern of these hate crimes is that the Hindutva mobs who barge into Christian prayer meetings also direct many of their slurs, verbal abuse and physical assaults on women. They use language that is casteist, sexually explicit and derogatory against women, and in cases where women have tried to respond to them, they molest and sexually assault them”.
The Report noted the communal role of the police in the violence against the minority community: “Almost in every instance of mob violence studied in this report, it can be observed in the chain of events that the police have colluded with Hindutva groups...This complicit role of the police emboldens a culture of intolerance and bigotry”.

According to the PUCL Report: The members of the Christian community especially in rural Karnataka continue to face threats of violence, discrimination and survival in the course of their everyday lives...

The psychological impact of such a vast range of hate crimes carried out by neighbours, police officials and local mob leaders is one that has affected their livelihoods, food security and general well-being.

What is happening in Karnataka is nothing exceptional. The variants of the same social text are being written in diverse parts of India in the wake of rise of ‘Hindutva’ nationalism.

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