New Delhi: India is ranked eighth among the countries that are at the highest risk for mass killing in 2022 and 2023, a US-based research organisation has said. India has seen a drop in rank from second position in the earlier year.
“There is a 7.4% – or approximately one in 14 – chance of a new mass killing beginning in India in 2022-2023,” the Early Warning Project, that identifies countries at risk of mass violence, has said in its report released in November.
The Project is a joint initiative of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College.
“This assessment identifies the risk – the possibility – that a mass killing may take place,” the report states as its objective.
A mass killing, as per the report, is 1,000 or more civilians deliberately killed by armed forces (whether government or non-state), over a period of a year or less, because of their membership in a particular group. Virtually all cases of genocide include mass killings, if they match this definition, the report said.
While Pakistan topped the list this year, Yemen ranked second, Myanmar third, Ethiopia fifth, Nigeria sixth and Afghanistan seventh, among all 162 countries, the 2022-23 report said.
Pakistan is estimated to have about a one in six chance of experiencing a new mass killing in 2022 or 2023, it said.
India has performed worse than Sudan (ninth), Somalia (10th), Syria (11th), Iraq (12th), and Zimbabwe (14th rank).
According to the 2021-2022 report, India was ranked in the second position among the top 15 highest-risk countries for the last five years.
“India’s shift in rank from second to eighth can be most attributed to an improvement in the freedom of movement for men [which is one of the variables used for the analysis],” the report said.
If this variable had remained the same even this year, India would have been ranked first in this year’s assessment, with an 11% increase in risk, it said.
The other variables, or ‘risk factors’, used for the analysis include the countries’ basic characteristics (for example, geographic region, population); socioeconomic measures (changes in gross domestic product per capita); measures of governance (restrictions on political candidates and parties); levels of human rights (freedom of movement); and records of violent conflict (battle-related deaths, ongoing mass killings).
A long list of hate speeches
The report highlighted several instances of how the BJP government at the Centre and in states have discriminated against the country’s Muslim minority.
“Hindu nationalist leaders have continued to propagate hate speech, including religious leaders’ calls for mass killings of Muslims in December 2021. Several states saw large-scale and violent incidents targeting Muslims in recent months, which involved Hindu nationalist processions engaging in derogatory anti-Muslim chants and the desecration of mosques. In response to these violent provocations, local authorities bulldozed Muslim-owned property across several states, which rights groups cited as an apparent attempt at collective punishment,” the report said.
Over the last few years, many Hindutva leaders, who are either associated with the BJP or are supporters of the party, have propagated hate speech with impunity and called for mass killings of Muslims. Worse, leaders from the ruling party have also made hate speeches against Muslims with little or no action against them.
For example, two months before the 2020 Delhi riots – in which 53 people were killed according to official accounts – militant Hindutva leader Yati Narsinghanand had described Muslims as rakshasas, or demons. Yet, no action was taken against him.
A day before the riots broke out, BJP leader Kapil Mishra had called for forcefully removing anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protesters at Jafrabad, New Delhi. A fact-finding committee report had noted that the riots began with Mishra’s speech.
However, many times, the BJP leader has reiterated that he did not regret the speech he delivered last year. No action was taken against him.
In this analysis by The Wire, Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta noted Mishra’s impunity appears to be a message for Hindutva activists that they have nothing to fear even if they were directly complicit in the violence.
BJP leader Anurag Thakur, who is now the information and broadcasting minister, was seen in a video leading a crowd chanting ‘Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maro salon ko (shoot the traitors of the country)’.
‘Goli maro salon ko’ was one of the main slogans used in the pro-CAA rallies.
However, Thakur was seen saying this slogan on the stage at a Delhi election rally in 2020, which was also attended by Union home minister Amit Shah.
Mishra was also caught on video chanting the same slogan. In an interview to The Wire, he said that there was nothing wrong with the ‘Goli maaron’ slogan.
In December 2021, Hindutva leaders had come together at a three-day ‘Dharma Sansad’ or ‘Religious Parliament’ in Haridwar where they had called for the genocide of Muslims.
In an interview to Karan Thapar, Gregory Stanton, the founding president of Genocide Watch, had said that the early warning signs of genocide are already visible in India. He had also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has an obligation to denounce hate speech.
However, it seems that the prime minister is far from giving any attention to such instances.
Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister, has repeatedly made derogatory comments against Muslims, calling them criminals (apradhiyon), mafias and rioters.
During the Hindu festival of Ram Navami in Madhya Pradesh, the crowds at the processions were seen carrying swords and sticks and chanting derogatory slogans while passing by mosques. Many reports of the desecration of mosques had also emerged.
And, after communal clashes, houses of Muslims were demolished, which rights groups have cited as an apparent attempt at ‘collective punishment’.
“Other minorities and persecuted groups, including Christians and Dalits, continue to face violence and discrimination,” the report noted.
According to a fact-finding report released in October 2021, over 300 instances of violence were reported against Christians in nine months of 2021.
The report also highlighted the instances of continued human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir, including increased targeting of Hindu civilians by militants and the Indian government’s crackdown on journalists and human rights defenders.
“According to our model, the factors accounting most for India’s high-risk estimate are its large population, its history of mass killing, its geographic region (South and Central Asia), and the presence of battle-related deaths (armed conflict between the Government of India, the Communist Party of India [Maoist], and Kashmir insurgents),” it said.