<![CDATA[My Site - Blog]]>Tue, 01 Mar 2016 13:21:32 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Which Political Parties are Associated With Most Violence?]]>Mon, 29 Feb 2016 13:56:36 GMThttp://indoneeti.weebly.com/blog/which-political-parties-are-associated-with-most-violence

The recent fracas at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), followed by a pitch battle on the judicial premises, is being seen by some as part of the rising intolerance pattern. Critics attribute it to the aggressive Hindu nationalist ideology of Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) which is at odds with intellectual freedom and dissent. Noted historian Romila Thapar expounded BJP-RSS's core ideology as memorization of a narrow set of questions and answers which prohibit any doubt or deviation.

The viral images of a BJP lawmaker beating up a left activist would seem to support this assertion. Interestingly, while the fracas was unfolding in the national capital an RSS activist was brutally murdered by purported CPM activists in Kannur.
 
This brings me to the moot question, is violence the fief of a particular political ideology, and by extension the operationalizing political outfit? To address this question I analyze the data from India Sub National Problem Set, which has recorded information on violent conflicts in India until 2004. The recorded events include categories such as terrorist incidentscommunal and ethnic riotsstate organized violence etc. To narrow down on the issue of political violence, I focus on incidents where at least one political outfit was involved. This sub-sample constitutes about 14 percent of the total recorded incidents in the dataset. In what follows I discuss the emergent patterns.

Temporal and Spatial Distribution of Political Violence

Political violence in India, both in terms of incidence and magnitude, shows a downward trend over the sample period (Appendix, Figure 1). Political violence peaked in the period from 1966 to 1970, driven by the violence involving communist parties (see Figure 4).

West Bengal, Assam and Tamil Nadu were most affected by political violence over the sample period. West Bengal alone accounted for over 34 percent of all political violence related deaths in the sub-sample (Figure 2).
 
Which Parties are Associated with Most Violence?


Unraveling the data by political parties shows that incidents involving BJP, Congress and CPI and CPM (Communists henceforth) account for 74 percent of all deaths in the sub sample. I club the two main communist parties together as they operationalize the same political ideology.
 
While Congress was associated with most number of incidents, the Communists were associated with most number of deaths (Figure 3).

No clear trend emerges from the temporal profile of violence across the three political parties (Figure 4). Notably, while the violence associated with both Congress and the Communists peaked before 1980s, for BJP it peaked in the 90s.
 
Is Violence Positively Associated with Political Power?
 
On the basis of above observation I set up a testable hypothesis i.e. is political violence positively correlated with political power enjoyed by a party? Increasing electoral success may embolden party cadre to resort to violence against their opposition. In a more extreme scenario, the party in power may use institutional authority to systematically target and weaken its opposition. On the flip side, political violence may have a non-linear relationship with political power i.e. the likelihood of violence is maximum when the competition for political control is in balance.

To test this hypothesis I combine data on political violence with State Assembly elections data sourced from the Election Commission of India. I use state assembly vote share as a proxy for political power. If the hypothesis holds we should expect a positive correlation between a party's vote share and the political violence associated with it. I also use squares of assembly vote shares to control for plausible non-linear relationship.

The results are presented in Table 1 at the end. The correlations are statistically insignificant, except for Congress vote share which is positively correlated with violence associated with the Communists (Column 1 and 4). This may indicate to use of violence by the dominant political party, in retaliation to the improving electoral fortunes of its opposition. While these are rudimentary correlations, one can develop an empirical framework (a la Mitra and Ray, 2014) to unpack this association. 

Conclusion

Three patterns emerge from an investigation of data on political violence in India. Political violence has been on a decline over the sample period. Second, West Bengal accounts for the biggest share of political violence. Finally, Congress and the Communists are associated with most political violence according to the sample.

These patterns should be seen in consonance with the caveats in the dataset. First, the data is only available till 2004. The relative share of violence associated with these parties may change if the series was updated. Second, non-treatment of certain events such as Anti Sikh riots or Gujarat riots as political violence could be questioned, as they involved active participation of certain parties' cadre.
 
On a concluding note, empirical literature on political violence and political power in India is scant and could be an interesting topic for future research.
 
Appendix:

]]>
<![CDATA[´╗┐The Missed Opportunities And 'Self-Goals' That Led To BJP's Bihar Debacle]]>Wed, 09 Dec 2015 13:40:21 GMThttp://indoneeti.weebly.com/blog/the-missed-opportunities-and-self-goals-that-led-to-bjps-bihar-debacle

The Bihar elections of 2015 may just have altered the course of the political narrative in India. The poll outcome seems to have provided a template to stop NDA's juggernaut. While the BJP's top brass gets into a post-poll assessment huddle, a host of factors are being implicated for this electoral humiliation. These range fromelectoral arithmetic and the lack of a chief ministerial candidate to the overlyaggressive campaigning pitch and pro-incumbency for Nitish Kumar.
The relative effect of many of these factors will be ascertained in the coming days, as disaggregate data becomes available. An analysis of the preliminary data, however, indicates that a concoction of missed opportunities and self-goals from the BJP contributed to its poll debacle.

The "Jungle Raj" campaign lacked credibility

The BJP positioned the Bihar election as a decision between development and the return of "jungle raj". The party campaign played up the rampant crime during the RJD years "when kidnappings and loot were the order of the day".

If ensuring a secure climate was the BJP's projected goal, its candidate choice faltered badly. According to Shekhar Gupta, senior journalist, the BJP's alliance with LJP, "a party deeply involved with the underworld", hurt its credibility. Perhaps more agonisingly, the party failed to set a moral standard by selecting a high proportion of candidates with criminal background. It is telling that amongst the main parties BJP had the highest share of candidates with criminal records (Figure 1).

Empirical evidence shows that informed voters are better at evaluating candidate credentials. Due to improving information accessibility, campaign pitches which are incoherent with observed outcomes are less likely to cut ice with the marginal voter than before.

A failure to woo female voters

The Bihar election saw an unprecedented turnout of female voters. More women came out to vote this time than both the 2014 and 2010 elections. The turnout of female voters was 4% greater than male voters, much higher than the 2% difference on average.

The Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance benefited significantly from the higher turnout amongst female voters. The alliance won 87 out of the 98 assembly constituencies where the gap between the turnout of women and men was more than 10%.
Political analysts attribute the preference for the Grand Alliance among women to the positive image of Nitish Kumar, as well as the alliance's campaign strategy targeted towards women.

Wooing female voters definitively away from the Nitish Kumar-led alliance might have been a tall order for the BJP. However, the party could have improved its chances by selecting a higher share of female candidates. Empirical evidence has shown that female candidates secure greater support from their own gender.

Amongst the key parties in the fray, however, BJP allocated the lowest share of seats to women (Figure 2). In fact, most of the major political parties gave fewer seats to women in comparison to 2010. Considering the strike rate of female candidates was higher than men in this election, BJP might have missed a trick in not giving greater representation to women.

The religious polarisation strategy backfired

The BJP had to fight a stiff battle in Bihar due to a consolidated opposition. The stakes were highest in the fifth phase, which accounted for the biggest chunk of seats as well as a higher than average proportion of Muslim voters. The BJP required a consolidation of Hindu votes for success in this phase. The party unleashed a campaign of religious polarisation signified by questionable remarks from its leaders.Empirical evidence shows that religious polarisation has been a viable strategy for the party in the past.

However, this time, the BJP-led alliance failed to benefit from polarisation, as results from the fifth phase indicate (Figure 3). In fact the alliance performed its worst in the fifth round, compared to the 2010 assembly election. This indicates that their strategy of using religious polarisation as a means to unite Hindus across caste lines did not work.

The RSS chief's comment on reservation, as well as the follow-up hype created by the opposition, may have dissuaded the SCs and EBCs to vote in favour of the BJP-led alliance. The vicious campaign pitch might also have united the Muslim votes and prevented AIMIM from making a significant dent in the Grand Alliance's vote base.

What lessons can BJP draw from the Bihar debacle? First, the average voter is better informed than before. Second, the party is yet to firmly entrench itself outside its traditional vote base. It becomes even more imperative for the party to stick to the development agenda. Any further deviation from that may lead to withering away of the massive mandate it received in 2014 elections.

Note:
The article also appeared on Huffington Post.


http://www.huffingtonpost.in/rohit-ticku/missed-opportunities-and-_b_8542768.html

Appendix:
]]>
<![CDATA[Riot Rewards: BJP's Vote Share Increases After Hindu-Muslim Clashes]]>Tue, 01 Dec 2015 13:33:15 GMThttp://indoneeti.weebly.com/blog/riot-rewards-bjps-vote-share-increases-after-hindu-muslim-clashes
During a recent TV debate on Dadri lynching the BJP spokesperson presented an interesting hypothesis on riots and the party's electoral performance. According to him, "electorally BJP does not reap any benefits out of polarized politics. History has it that if a Babri Masjid was demolished then we lost all the elections of the state assemblies afterwards. If Gujarat riots took place we lost 2004 elections".

The debate on BJP's role in communal polarization has regained currency since its stunning victory in 2014 national elections. This happened in spite of a relentless campaign by its political adversaries on the suspect role of Narendra Modi, its prime ministerial candidate, in 2002 Gujarat riots.

Since then riot incidents prior to local elections, for example in Western Utter Pradesh or in Delhi, have been presented as BJP's strategy of communal polarization for electoral benefits.

Curiously, existing empirical literature has only tangentially looked at the link between Hindu-Muslim riots and BJP's electoral performance. These studies have either only focused on election outcome after a specific riot event (Dhattiwala and Biggs, 2012; Jha, 2012) or not accounted for the plausible endogenity of riot outcomes.

My study is the first empirical research, to the best of my knowledge, to establish a causal link between Hindu Muslim riots and BJP's electoral results. Results show that BJP's vote share in state level assembly elections increases between 2.9 to 4.4 percent in response to different riot outcomes.

Theoretical Framework and Data Analysis

This study draws from the literature on ethnic mobilization and voting. The link between Hindu-Muslim riots and BJP's electoral performance is contextualized within the broader framework of voting behavior i.e. whether decision to vote on ethnic lines is based on sincerity or strategy.

Recent literature (Chandra, 2009) points to a strategic interest in voting, even when done on ethnic lines. Voting for a co-ethnic may be done strategically either for material rewards or psychological gains through having a co-ethnic in power. The desire for such gains, especially psychological rewards, should be stronger in the aftermath of ethnically polarizing events like a riot. In other words, riot events should increase the probability of voting on the lines of religion.

I test this theory by analyzing the effect of prior Hindu-Muslim riot events on BJP's electoral performance in state assembly elections. The study covers 151 districts for a period between 1980 and 2000. Straightforward estimates of riots' impact on BJP's vote share could be biased for two reasons. First, there may be some unobserved factors which jointly determine riots and BJP's vote share. Second, BJP may itself be instigating riots to gain votes, leading to the problem of reverse causality. I use temperature change as an exogenous source of variation in riots to correct for this bias.

Main Results

Riot variables have a positive and statistically significant effect on BJP's vote share. For example, a one percent increase in the number of riots in a district improves BJP's vote share by 4.4 percent. Similarly, a percent increase in the number of people killed in riots within a district increase BJP's vote share by 2.9 percent.

These results are robust to outlier districts i.e. those districts which had the highest incidence of riots in my sample. This assures us that the results are not being driven by a few outliers. Interestingly, riot events also have a negative and statistically significant effect on Congress party's vote share.

For example, Congress party's vote share decreases by about 2 percent in response to a 1 percent increase in riot incidents within a district. These results lend credence to the "electoral incentives" theory (Wilkinson, 2004) i.e. anti-minority events like Hindu-Muslim riots lead to transfer of votes from Congress, purporting an economic redistribution agenda, towards BJP, which has positioned itself as a right wing nationalist party. In other words, riot events should further benefit BJP's performance in constituencies where it is locked in a direct electoral battle with Congress.

Cavaets and Conclusion

This study analyzes whether Hindu-Muslim riots causally affects BJP's electoral performance. I find a positive and statistically significant effect of riot events on BJP's electoral performance. However, the study does not establish any mechanism through which BJP could cause religious polarization and ensuing riots.
I believe we need a more systematic study of electoral mechanisms which could be employed by the party to polarize voters. Till then the daggers may remain drawn on BJP's role in fomenting communal disharmony for electoral success.

Note:

This article was also published on Huffington Post.

http://www.huffingtonpost.in/rohit-ticku/riot-rewards-bjps-vote-sh_b_8344558.html

]]>
<![CDATA[Killing Them Locally: Encounter Pattern in J&K]]>Thu, 20 Aug 2015 00:08:19 GMThttp://indoneeti.weebly.com/blog/killing-them-locally-encounter-pattern-in-jammu-and-kashmir

On August 8, 2015 a Pakistani terrorist was captured alive in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).[1] Just the previous day a Kashmiri militant affiliated with Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) was killed in a gunbattle with Indian security forces.[2] According to an article published in Scroll “the unstated government policy is to kill a local militant as soon as he is spotted. There is apparently no incentive in capturing an armed Kashmiri militant”. [3] The writer seemed to imply that armed forces find higher value in capturing foreign terrorists. The article went on to suggest that “a closer scrutiny of militant attacks in Jammu and Kashmir reveals that most of them target the state and its armed forces”.[4]

In what follows I analyze the pattern of terrorism related violence in J&K, and the response of security forces. I tackle these issues using data from the South Asian Terrorism Portal (SATP), having set up the following two workable hypothesis:

H1: The ratio of Captured to Killed is higher among foreign terrorists than locals;

H2: The ratio of Civilian to Armed Forces casualties in terrorist violence is less than one

There are arguments in favor of the first hypothesis. Capturing a foreign terrorist, usually from Pakistan, can be higher value for potential intelligence gathering as well as scoring a diplomatic point against the neighbor. For example, Ajmal Kasab’s capture helped expose the role of Pakistani terror network in Mumbai suicide attacks.[5] Even Pakistan had to grudgingly acknowledge the plot having being hatched from its soil, causing a major diplomatic embarrassment.[6] Media coverage of a captured Kashmiri militant may also generate certain degree of empathy for Kashmiri separatism among the average Indian.[7]

To test this conjecture I compiled all major incidents of terrorist violence for 2014-15 from SATP.[8] The database provides information on the number of terrorists killed, however, it does not give details on the origin of those killed or the number of terrorists captured. I went through media reports for each of the thirty incidents recorded for 2014 and 2015 to collect this additional data.

Two outcomes were apparent. First, there were more fatalities among foreign terrorists than local militants (1.5:1). The proportion of foreign cadre fatalities’ was higher even if we accounted for their bigger share among the number of active militants.[9]  Second, not even a single militant was captured alive across these incidents. If anything, the security forces seem to have been following a zero tolerance approach towards terrorists, irrespective of their origin.

My analysis could however be biased if SATP only reported incidents where at least one fatality was observed. In that case the dataset would have excluded those incidents where a terrorist was captured but without involving any fatality.

To alleviate this concern I compare the series’ on foreign mercenaries killed and arrested with terrorist arrested, surrendered and killed in J&K.[10] As per my hypothesis the ratio of foreign terrorists Captured to Killed should at least be higher than that of the aggregate. A comparison of the two series is presented in Graph 1.

The ratio of foreign terrorists Captured to Killed is far lower than the aggregate. Interestingly, the ratio of Captured to Killed (Total) also fell sharply as the share of foreign militants grew from mid 90s onwards.[11] In other words, the security forces were much more ruthless against the foreign terrorists than their local counterparts in the nineties.

There is also a rationale in following such strategy. Killing a local militant further complicates the law and order situation, as apparent from the organization of mass protests which invariably accompany the dead militant’s funeral.[12] The contrasting response in Kashmir valley to the hanging of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri militant implicated in 2002 Parliament attacks, and Ajmal Kasab serves as a useful example.  Kashmir valley erupted in protest in response to Afzal Guru’s hanging, leaving 3 people dead and 50 injured in its wake.[13] Kasab’s hanging, on the other hand, barely evoked any response.[14] In other words, the state does not have to worry about law and order disruptions if a foreign militant is eliminated.

I now turn our attention to the pattern of terrorist violence. Specifically, I look at the trend of Civilian to Armed Force casualties during terrorist attacks, as shown in Graph 2. For a better understanding I also compare the trend in J&K to that of terrorist attacks across India.

Three patterns emerge. First, more civilians on average were killed than security personnel in J&K. Throughout the Kashmir conflict civilians have been targeted specifically as well have ended up as collateral damage. According to the Human Rights Watch, “Throughout the conflict, militant organizations in Kashmir have committed grave abuses. The most serious of these have been the murders of hundreds of civilians, both Muslim and Hindu, who have been targeted because of their suspected support for the Indian government, or because they otherwise opposed the policies or practices of one or another of the militant groups”.[15] In some instances civilian deaths have been recorded during ambushes on armed forces. For example, recently a handicapped civilian was killed when terrorists attacked a police post in Baramulla district of J&K.[16]

Second, the ratio of Civilian to Security Forces casualties peaked in 2005 and has seen a steady decline since. The ratio also fell below one from 2009 onwards. Finally, the trend in J&K closely followed that of all India average till 2007 when it began to diverge. The terror strikes in J&K seem to have more precision than the Naxal attacks, the other major source of terrorist violence in India.

 Overall we can say that terrorist attacks in J&K have caused significant Civilian to Armed Forces casualties, although the trend has improved in the last few years. Even when civilians were not targeted directly, the collateral damage has been too high to consider the specific targeting of security forces as a credible strategy.

Conclusion:

This article had set out to understand the pattern of terrorism related violence in J&K, and how security respond. We can draw two main conclusions from my analysis. First, security forces have been more ruthless towards terrorists of foreign origin. This seems to be a low cost strategy in comparison to eliminating a local militant. Second, the civilian casualties have been significantly high to argue for terrorist attacks being specifically targeted against security personnel.

References:

[1] “I came to kill Indians, it’s fun: captured Pak militant Naved”, Hindustan Times (08.08.15)


[2] “Pulwama encounter: Let militant killed, Udhampur attack plotter may be holed up”, The Tribune (07.08.15)


[3] “Udhampur attack: Indian media is pushing for militarism instead of dialogue in Kashmir”, Scroll.in (08.08.15)


[4] Ibid.


[5] “Pakistani lie nailed: Ajmal Kasab was a Pakistani, admits ex-FIA chief”, Znews (04.08.15)


[6] “Pakistan acknowledges role in Mumbai attacks, arrests main suspects”, The World Post (15.03.09)


[7] “Udhampur attack: Indian media is pushing for militarism instead of dialogue in Kashmir”, Scroll.in (08.08.15


[8] 2015 data was updated till 9th August


[9] “Police Census: 104 militants active in Kashmir”, The Tribune (23.02.14)


[10] The two series’ are only available for 90s and hence I only use them for robustness check.


[11] “Guns ‘n’ poses: The new crop of militants in Kashmir”, The Indian Express (26.07.15)


[12] For example, many Kashmiris assembled and protested against Indian govt. at the funeral of Talib Hussein Shah


[13] “The hanging on Afzal Guru: How and execution is roiling Kashmir”, Time (15.02.13)


[14]“Kasab’s hanging evokes no response in Jammu and Kashmir”, Times of India (22.11.12)


[15] “Behind the Kashmir conflict: Abuses by Indian security forces and militant groups continue”, HRW Reports (1999)


[16] “Civilian in wheelchair, cop killed in terror attack in Kashmir’s Sopore”, NDTV (18.08.15)





]]>
<![CDATA[Death Penalty for Intellectual Rigour]]>Sun, 09 Aug 2015 21:28:22 GMThttp://indoneeti.weebly.com/blog/death-penalty-for-intellectual-rigour1Partisan politics once again raised its specter in the aftermath of Yakub Memon’s hanging.[1] As Pratap Bhanu Mehta alluded, a pitched battle is being fought over the sanctity of institutions.  The danger then lies in “taking away from them a presumptive legitimacy will leave us unprotected in every respect”.[2]

The Indian media has scrambled to play the vigilante, led by Indian Express’s first page news headline.[3] The urge to fight the partisan battle is encouraging a race to the bottom of intellectual rigour. As a relatively serious researcher I balked at the evidence presented by Shoaib Daniyal (Scroll, August 1st 2015) against death penalty acting as a deterrence to crime.[4]  Using case studies from United States the author concluded that “there is a consensus on the redundancy of the death penalty in deterring crime.”[5] Even ignoring the adage of one size does not fit all i.e. there may be structural differences in the experience of United States and India, I have to point out serious methodological deficiencies in the author’s claim.

1.       Correlation is not causation

The author contends that the correlation between homicide rates and death penalty should be the holy grail for its deterrence effect. Correlation, however, does not imply causation and at best acts as an eyeball test. Correlation between two variables are quite often spurious and driven by other explanatory variable (s).[6] We really need empirical evidence on causal effect of death penalty on homicide rates to arrive at any conclusion.

2.       Literature evolves

The author uses one empirical study published in 1950s as evidence against any correlation between rates of homicide and death penalty. While I don’t expect the writer to have presented a thorough literature review, a look at recent empirical evidence would have been instructive. For example Dezhbakhsh and Shephard (2006) in a panel study of 50 states show almost 23 percent increase in murder rates during the period when United States Supreme Court imposed a moratorium on death penalty (1972-76), compared to the years before and after.[7] The authors also find a significant variation across states in murder rates’ response to death penalty.

3.       Brutalization effect does not capture state characteristics

The writer refers to Brutalization effect i.e. increase in murder rates with the death penalty as a “compelling” evidence against death penalty. He however does not account for two key issues- the problem of reverse causality i.e. states may impose death penalty in response to high homicide rates, which may explain why states without death penalty have lower murder rates than states with a death penalty.[8] Second, there may be other institutional factors explaining the fall in death rates in North Carolina or California, after the removal of death penalty. For example Levitt (2001) in his seminal paper showed that legalized abortion in 1970s accounted to about 50 percent drop in crime in the 90s.[9] In other words the association between death penalty and lowering of murder rates may be due to a third explanator.

Conclusion

The existing empirical evidence, as admitted by the writer, points towards some deterrence effect of death penalty in the United States. Majority of the empirical literature in the past decade show that death penalty has a deterrent effect. For example, out of 22 empirical studies on death penalty 14 report some deterrence, seven show no effect while one is inconclusive.[10] One could debate on the efficacy of death penalty while factoring in moral considerations. For example, if an additional death sentence causes two fewer homicides we can debate on its utility to the society. However, to put together shoddy argumentation as critical scrutiny is a blatant disregard of the reader’s intellectual capacity.



[1] http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/editorial-the-grim-reality-politics-behind-yakub-memon-s-hanging-2109659


[2] http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/yakubs-ghost/


[3] http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/1993-serial-blasts-convict-executed-and-they-hanged-yakub-memon/


[4] http://scroll.in/article/745198/does-the-death-penalty-act-as-a-deterrent-to-crime


[5] ibid


[6] http://www.tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations


[7] Dezhbakhsh, Hashem, and Joanna Shepherd, "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: Evidence from a Judicial Experiment," Economic Inquiry 14 (2006): 512-535.


[8] http://scroll.in/article/745198/does-the-death-penalty-act-as-a-deterrent-to-crime


[9] John J. Donohue & Steven D. Levitt, 2001. "The Impact Of Legalized Abortion On Crime," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 379-420, May.


[10] Hashem Dezhbakhsh & Paul Rubin, 2007. "From the "Econometrics of Capital Punishment" to the "Capital Punishment" of Econometrics: On the Use and Abuse of Sensitivity Analysis," Emory Economics 0715, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).


]]>
<![CDATA[Are Most Terrorists In India Hindus? Nope.]]>Thu, 04 Jun 2015 21:36:19 GMThttp://indoneeti.weebly.com/blog/are-most-terrorists-in-india-hindus-nopePicture

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." 

Disraeli

A recent article published on Scroll India revisits the question whether “Most terrorists in India are Muslims”. [1]

The debate is disingenuous to begin with, in addition to my personal aversion to the question; there is no credible data on religious composition of the cadre of various terrorist outfits. Any approximation on the basis of religious affiliation of terrorists in captivity would most likely be subject to a bias (Over 28% of those incarcerated in India in 2012 were Muslims, much higher than their population share).[2]

Mr. Patel instead cites terrorist fatalities data, collated by South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), as evidence of most terrorists in India being Hindus. Referring to fatalities’ statistics between 2011 and 14, the writer concludes that “As is obvious, most terrorists in India are Hindus, the ones whom we have conveniently labelled 'Maoist' instead of 'Hindu'. The second largest group of terrorists is the tribals, animists and perhaps some Christians, of the Northeast. Muslims are third.”

The writer could have framed the question better as “Is X religious group responsible for most terrorism related violence in India?” given the paucity of data to tackle the original hypothesis.

More importantly, the author makes a not so obvious assumption that all Maoists are Hindus. Since Maoism or Naxalism is a class based struggle- it is difficult to pinpoint the religious affiliation or belief of their cadres. While the writer is happy to ascribe Maoism as a smokescreen for Hindu terror, it would have been instructive to see what Naxalite groups have to say about Hindu or Hindutva beliefs. The Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) declares itself as “the highest political organisation of the Indian proletariat fighting for realising its supreme class mission”, without a reference to any religious affiliation.[3] 

The point being that Naxalite groups, unlike Islamic or Hindutva terror outfits, should draw cadres without any religious bias. Indeed individual news reports point to Maoist groups involved in murder of a Hindu religious leader, admitting that they derive major support from minority communities in Orissa, and noting that “most of the cadre members and supporters in Orissa belonged to Christian community”. They also brand Sangh Parivar as a “fundamentalist” grouping and referred to senior BJP and VHP leaders as their “natural targets”.[4]

Based on the assertion of Maoist outfits it is not so “obvious” that Maoism is synonymous with Hindu terror.

Having established the inherent weakness of writer’s key assertion, I now revisit the terrorist violence data from SATP, which is reported for 2005-15. The data gives us an additional insight, once we account for Hindu and Muslim population shares respectively. As Column 3 above shows, Islamic extremism related violence is highly disproportionate compared to the population share of Muslims (even if we for a second club Left Wing Extremism with Hindutva related extremism).

I sum up my rebuttal to Mr. Patel’s article with three conclusions: a) There is no data to question or support if most terrorists in India are Muslims b) There is no evidence that Hindus are responsible for most terrorism related violence c) Islamic extremism is highly disproportionate to population share of Muslims in India, and maybe that is why it garners more headlines. 



[1] http://scroll.in/article/718458/Most-extremists-in-India-are-not-Muslim-%E2%80%93-they-are-Hindu


[2] http://ncrb.gov.in/PSI-2012/Full/PSI-2012.pdf

 


[3] http://www.cpiml.org/pgs/partyprogram/cpiml_gen_prog.htm

 


[4] http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/south-asia/maoists-issue-strict-warning-to-hindus#full  &     http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/oct/05orissa1.htm

 













 



]]>