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Data Journalism and Holy Cow Debate

Saturday July 29, 2017 3:37 PM, Syed Ali Mujtaba,

Data Journalism

Data Journalism is new tool for the no frills journalists. The hard facts provided by the data journalists can hardly be refuted and no apologist can provide a counter argument to such facts.

In sum the data journalism provides a wakeup call to the organs of the state machinery, the civil society, intelligence and the common man to do something against the evils of the society that is provided them in statistical form.

The latest in the data journalism is the growing incidence of violence in name of cow protection. If we go by the hard facts collected by India Spend it can be easily said this crime can be bracketed with ‘rape’ and if that one of our national pastime, the incidence of lynching is also catching up fast.

According to an IndiaSpend database that records violence in India, so far 27 cases of cow-related violence have been recorded till the seventh month of 2017. This statistical perspective of the data provides grist to the national debate over cow-related violence.

Created through a collection and content analysis of reports in the English media–the database of India Spend reveal that there are as many as 70 cases of cow-related violence over eight years. Among them 68 of 70 attacks or 97% occurred after Modi’s government came to power in May 2014.

In comparison to 27 attacks reported within seven months in 2017, the year 2016 reported saw only 25 cow-related violence. More than half or 54% of the cow-related violence i.e. 38 of 70 cases were reported from states governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The data show that Muslims were the target of 51% (36 of 70) cases of violence centered on bovine issues since nearly eight years (2010 to 2017) and comprised 86% (24 of 28) killed in the 70 recorded incidents. At least 136 people were injured in these attacks, and more than half (54%) of these attacks were based on rumors.

Out of the 70 cases only 34 attacks that is nearly half or 49% cases were registered by the police against victims/survivors, the database of IndiaSpend revealed.

Despite the increase in violence related to bovine issues, particularly over the last three years, the national or state crime data do not distinguish general violence from cow-related attacks and lynchings.

This was recorded in the Lok Sabah on July 25, 2017 when Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, minister of state for the home ministry told the Lok Sabha in his reply that the home ministry does not maintain data on cases relating to lynching, cow ‘vigilantes’, cow trade and trafficking,” etc.

The data, the National Crime Records Bureau [NCRB] records such offences under sections 153A and 153B of Indian Panel Code that is promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth etc…

As per National Crime Records Bureau [NCRB] “offences promoting enmity between different groups” increased 41% over three years to 2016, rising from 336 to 475. . As many as 1,235 cases related to offences under section 153A and 153B were reported during 2014-16.

Uttar Pradesh (UP), India’s most-populous state, reported the most (202) cases, registering a 346% increase, from 26 in 2014 to 116 in 2016. UP was followed by Kerala (151), Karnataka (114), Telangana (104) and Maharashtra (103), among the top five states, over three years. Cases in Uttarakhand increased at the greatest rate nationwide, 450%, from four in 2014 to 22 in 2016, the data reveled.

The startling fact on the mob violence in the name of cow protection has led to the National Campaign against Mob Lynching, by a committee of civil society members. This group has proposed a new law called “Manav Suraksha Kanoon (MASUKA)” against the mob lynching practices that is figuring in the crime charts.

The society has suggested that such law should be made with provisions such as no bail for those accused of mob lynching, life imprisonment for those convicted and immediate suspension of the concerned police station in charge that refuses to register such cases.

The online petition demanding MASUKA has received only 34,000 signatures suggests the consciousness level of the countrymen towards such burning issues. To the MASUKA plea the government has retorted that there is no such proposal to promulgate a law against lynching. This is a great setback to the law abiding citizens.

Even the laws made after the high profile “Nirbhya” case on rape suggests that there is no letup in such crime against the women. The data on the “rape cases” in India is appalling. If one goes them, it’s almost an established fact that India is a nation of rapist.

A new addition into the crime charts is the growing cases of mob lynching in the country. Even though statistical evidences are enough to provide that cow related violence is a specific crime, it is yet to be officially recognized by the government. This suggests that how lax we are as a citizen of this country.

At a time when farmers of the country are committing suicides, mob lynching and rapes have become staple news in the newspapers; the government of the day seems totally careless to address such crimes.

This brings to the question what self-interest did the colonial rulers had in eradicating evils like; Thuguee, Sati, Devdasi systems in India?

If the answer is none and it is only service to the humanity, then the follow up question is; why our own government is failing in its duty to eradicate such evils from our society.

If you have an answer to it, you are true nationalist; else you too belong to the mob that commits crime against humanity and call themselves as super nationalists.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at]

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