Rajasthan Assembly Polls 2018: Hate crimes against Dalits and Muslims a major concern in the state

Hate crimes have stained the map of Rajasthan through the sands of time. In the last couple of years, however, hate crimes have been on the rise in the state.

In July this year, Amnesty International, a human rights advocacy group, ranked Rajasthan at number three for the largest number of heinous crimes against minority communities. According to the list, the largest number of hate crimes happened in Uttar Pradesh followed by Gujarat.

This came in the wake of the brutal lynching of Rakbar Khan on the suspicion of cow smuggling. Khan, a resident of Mewat in Rajasthan, was transporting bovines when they were stopped by locals in Lalawandi village near Alwar, and brutally beaten. The case has been deputed to DSP Jaipur range and the investigation is on.

However, this is not a one-off case. This is one gruesome deed in a series of others, several of which might not have even been reported. Amnesty’s Halt the Hate website lists such cases and marked eight hate crimes in 2018 until July. These include a Dalit groom who was attacked by upper caste men for riding a horse, and a Muslim man who was beaten to death for not chanting “Jai Shree Ram”.

Rajasthan has seen at least 39 such incidents from September 2015 until present day. In fact, it was in 1992 that the state witnessed its first incident of violence against minorities – the Kumher Massacre – where 15 Dalits were killed in Bharatpur district.

Then, in September 2010, Hindu activists mainly belonging to the Meena tribe attacked Muslims, destroyed their property – their farmland, equipment, standing crop and granaries, were plundered, damaged or burnt. Muslims had to flee Udaipur in the aftermath of the incident.

To cite more recent examples, last year, 55-year-old Pehlu Khan was lynched on a national highway in Alwar district by a furious mob on the suspicion of cow smuggling. The Rajasthan police acquitted six of the accused of Khan’s murder, and the victims were charged for cow smuggling.

In yet another horrendous hate crime, Mohammed Afrazul, a migrant labourer from Malda in West Bengal, was hacked and burnt alive by one Shambhu Lal in Rajsamand district of Rajasthan. Shambhu Lal’s minor nephew caught the entire incident on tape and video footage of the ghastly crime went viral. Lal confessed to committing the crime in an attempt to prevent jihad and surrendered the next day. He was charged with murder.

In fact, in an incident, the Rajasthan police gunned down Talim Hussain in Alwar on the December of 2017 on the suspicion of cow smuggling. Although the state police claim it to be an encounter, activists say they didn’t find any evidence of counter-firing from the alleged cow-smugglers.

These incidents paint a grim picture of lawlessness in Rajasthan. Activists and minority leaders have accused the government of apathy and even shielding the perpetrators of such crimes.

Pinning the blame on “population explosion and frustration due to joblessness” Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje told CNN-News 18, “It happens all over the world, that’s not something happening in Rajasthan alone and if somebody is trying to say that why wasn’t she listening and why wasn’t she doing anything… it is very difficult because if at 12’o clock in the night in some remote part of Rajasthan, something like this happens, I would have to be god to know exactly what is really happening.”

The ruling BJP government will have to tread a tightrope in order to woo the minorities who clearly seem disenchanted with the ruling dispensation. Otherwise, they might hand a point to the Opposition in the state.

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