The BJP's new rhetoric focusing on a communal twist to crimes against women in Uttar Pradesh is not borne out by cold facts.
Data accessed by NDTV shows that in western Uttar Pradesh, where vociferous campaigns have highlighted the alleged abuse of Hindu women by Muslim men, women have been assaulted by men from their own community in most rape cases this year.
On Sunday, we had reported that in Meerut district, where the alleged gang-rape of a woman took on a communal colour, Muslims were accused in seven of the 37 rape cases reported this year. The accused were Hindus in the remaining 30 cases.
Detailed data for rape cases covering a wider footprint of all nine districts of Western Uttar Pradesh prove that the reality does not match the concerns raised by the BJP, which in a political resolution passed by its UP unit on Sunday, mentioned the increasing involvement of 'a certain community' in crimes against women of a 'certain community'.
This year, there have been 334 rape cases in the districts of Meerut, Bulandshahr, Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Baghpat, Hapur, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar and Shamli.
In 25 cases, the accused are Muslim and the women are Hindu. This is almost the same as the number of cases - 23 - in which the women are Muslim and their attackers are Hindu.
In 96 cases, the accused and victims are Muslim. And in 190 cases - the highest number - the accused and victims are both Hindu.
It is important to reiterate that crime data is not normally defined along religious lines. We specifically asked for it, to check political claims. This is a time-consuming and sensitive exercise that should be avoided.
If the BJP and the Sangh Parivar have any data to counters these numbers, they have not shared it so far.
When we asked BJP's UP president, Laxmikant Bajpai, why, despite such data, they continue to express selective outrage at rape cases, he said they are looking at crime against women as a whole and not on the basis on caste or religion.