19:44 GMT19 April 2021
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    In 2020, India was among the worst countries globally in terms of groups being targeted by violent mobs, a new study by the US' Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) said. Most of the civilian attacks in India took place against healthcare workers performing COVID-related duties as well as Muslims, among others, it said.

    A new report by the American nonprofit organisation Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) has assessed violent mobs targeting civilians in countries throughout the world, and has pegged India among the five worst-affected countries in 2020.

    ACLED is a non-governmental organisation specialising in disaggregated conflict data collection, analysis, and crisis mapping.

    "In India, rioters involved in mob violence are responsible for most violence targeting civilians," says the study, as it documented 745 incidents of mob violence in India in 2020, which resulted in 161 deaths.

    ​Most of the attacks that took place in India during the last year were against healthcare workers performing COVID duties, against Muslims in the form of ‘communal violence’ as well as in the Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory, says the American study.

    “Health workers, people suspected of spreading the coronavirus, and members of the minority Muslim community were frequently targeted by mobs motivated by conspiracy theories and rumours linked to the health crisis,” says ACLED.

    The US study points out that “attacks on civilians” continued in the South Asian country despite the lockdown restrictions last year, which kicked in on 25 March and continued through April, May and June.

    Mexico, Brazil, Syria, India and Yemen were listed as the five worst countries in terms of mob violence, according to the report's findings. It adds, however, that civilians were targeted by different actors, both state and non-state, in these five countries.

    “Anonymous or unidentified armed groups and gangs were responsible for the largest proportion of civilian-targeting around the world last year at 52 percent of all the events, as well as 54 percent of all reported civilian fatalities,” says the report.

    “Of identified actors, state forces posed the greatest threat to civilians last year, responsible for 17 percent of civilian targeting and 15 percent of civilian fatalities, followed by rioters and violent mobs, which were responsible for 13 percent of civilian targeting and 3 percent of civilian fatalities,” it adds.

    The report further notes that even as both civilian targeting and fatalities across the world recorded an overall decline as compared to last year, “civilian targeting” events rose in half of the countries.

    “The greatest increases in civilian targeting were recorded in Brazil, Nigeria, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Cameroon. Overall, civilian targeting rose in 50 percent of all countries covered by ACLED.

    The study has further noted an overall decline in “political violence” across the world, including in India. In fact, the South Asian country was among the top countries in terms of declining overall political violence in 2020.

    While political violence and civilian targeting recorded an overall global decline in 2020, demonstration activity around the world witnessed an aggregate increase, according to the US study.

     “Following an initial drop at the start of the health crisis, overall demonstration activity rose by 7 percent in 2020 compared to 2019, with an increase recorded in 58 percent of all countries covered by ACLED,” states the report.

    “However, in 2020, the United States registered the highest number of demonstrations in the world, with nearly as many demonstrations as the next two countries — India and Pakistan — combined,” said the study by the US nonprofit organisation.

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