India: Religious riots surge in 2020, despite lockdown — report

India, like many other countries around the world, spent much of the year 2020 under lockdown due the coronavirus pandemic. While the restrictions led to a decline in crime, civil clashes saw a significant hike.

Cases of religious riots nearly doubled in 2020 compared to the previous year, according to a government report released Thursday.

The National Crime Records Bureau, in its annual report titled “Crime in India 2020,” said 857 cases of communal or religious rioting were registered in the country in the last year.

This is up from 438 in 2019 and 512 in 2018, the report stated.

Of the incidents of rioting, 520, more than half, were reported in the national capital of New Delhi, which was the center of demonstrations against a controversial citizenship law.

The Hindu-majority country is also home to the world’s third-largest Muslim population.

Since India gained independence in 1947 following a bloody partition, incidents of communal clashes between Hindu and Muslim communities have claimed thousands of lives.

Communal clashes between Hindu and Muslim communities have claimed thousands of lives in India

Delhi’s deadly riots

New Delhi saw the worst communal rioting in decades in February 2020.

Massive protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act or CAA — championed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi — culminated in deadly riots in the capital.

The Delhi riots largely affected the city’s Muslim-majority neighborhoods in the northeast.

Delhi riots: Survivors struggle with constant trauma Momentary relief One of the relief camps for the victims of the riots has been set up inside an Eidgah, a large open-air mosque designated for Eid al-Fitr prayers. Set up by the Delhi government, it now shelters about 1,000 people affected by the violence. It’s located in the Mustafabad area of the Indian capital.

Delhi riots: Survivors struggle with constant trauma The wounds are fresh It is hard to imagine whether the camps let these people forget what happened to them. They are living in trauma, pain and are clueless about how they will rebuild their lives. The trigger for the riots was a citizenship law introduced last year that critics say marginalizes India’s Muslim minority. Police data show at least 53 people, many of them Muslims, were killed and over 200 were injured.

Delhi riots: Survivors struggle with constant trauma Safety for women This camp is segregated into two sections, with separate areas for men and women. The communal riots shocked Delhi residents, with many saying they never expected such violence to take place in their home city.

Delhi riots: Survivors struggle with constant trauma Children await a different future Children who were exposed to the violence have been left traumatized. Many schools were burnt down during the riots. At the camp, some children are trying to keep up with their studies. Children in the camp also wear tags on their wrists for identification.

Delhi riots: Survivors struggle with constant trauma Relief is at hand Authorities and non-governmental organizations have been offering various legal and healthcare services for those in the camp. While doctors and nurses provide health checkups and medicines, legal aid is being offered to help victims lodge cases of looting, arson and violence.

Delhi riots: Survivors struggle with constant trauma Hope is still alive Despite their suffering and the severe physical and mental pain, there is a longing to once again live as they used to in their houses and among their friends and well-wishers. There is hope that one day, all will be well again. Author: Amir Ansari, Charu Kartikeya (New Delhi)

Two days of bloody violence left 53 dead, including both Hindus and Muslims, and more than 200 wounded.

Amnesty International accused Delhi police of carrying human rights abuses during deadly riots.

In August 2020, India’s tech hub Bangalore witnessed deadly violence after an allegedly blasphemous Facebook post about the Prophet Muhammad.

Angry crowds attacked police stations, set vehicles on fire, and even burned down the house of a lawmaker whose nephew was allegedly behind the post.

Three people were killed and more than 100 were arrested.

India was under complete national lockdown from March 25 till May 31, 2020.