Some terms are more difficult to define than others. An atrocity is in the eye of the beholder.
Atrocities involve ineffable horror – unspeakable pain, in response to unconscionable acts.
One man’s atrocity is another’s desperate justice.
The first murder is believed Cain & Abel
In the Book of Genesis, Cain and Abel are the sons of Adam and Eve.
Cain is a farmer, and his younger brother Abel is a shepherd. Both boys proceed to make offerings of their production to God. But when Abel’s is accepted and Cain’s is denied, Cain takes his brother Abel into the field and kills him.
You could mount a case that history has been a contiunal conflict between the hunters and gatherers and the sedentary cultivators. The roaming tribes from Asiatic regions against Rome, the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons in Huckleberry Finn, the ancient indigenous inhabitants of North America or Australia versus the European invaders….
Mass killings of peoples has occurred innumerable times throughout the history of the world, but it takes the careful weaving, and framing of facts into an empathetic, longer narrative to transform it into an alarming atrocity.
For Christians, the mass slaughter of thousands of Jews or Turk infidels, does not constitute an atrocity – and vice versa. As long as you can demonise the enemy, you brutalise your emotions and preserve yourself from guilt or compunction.
Churchill advised his country men not to become squeamish at the mere death of millions of Muslims or Hindus from starvation.
In Venezuela, Bolívar had eight hundred Spanish prisoners executed in cold blood. In Syria, at Jaffa, Napoleon had 1,500–2,000 prisoners led out to the beach and then shot, bayoneted, or drowned.
And one thing psychologists know is that tyranny and atrocity thrive on bystanders. Passive, silent, submissive, obedient bystanders, without whom atrocity cannot survive. So, if you care about Justice, free press, rule of law and tyranny, don’t be silent. Don’t be complicit. Speak up. Dr. Lissa Johnson – New Matilda
Pre-colonial India #
Siege of Chittorgarh (1303) 30,000 slaves by Timurid forces (1398) 100,000 Hindu captives. It is assumed nearly a million died on the Indian side
Maratha expeditions in Bengal (1741–1751) 400,000 people
Chhōtā Ghallūghārā (1746) Lahore, Mughal Empire 7,000 Sikhs were killed in battle, 3,000 were captured and executed.
Vaḍḍā Ghallūghārā (1763) Punjab - Est. 25,000–30,000 Sikhs
Colonial India #
Initially the indigenous peoples attacked the East India Traders.
Red Fort, peepal tree massacre 16 May 1857 Delhi, Mughal Empire ~ 40–52 Europeans
Mutiny in Allahabad 6 June 1857 Allahabad, Company rule in India ~ 50 Europeans The 6th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry Mutinied, killing their European officers, and looted the city.
Siege of Cawnpore, 5–25 June 1857 Kanpur, Company rule in India 1,000 Europeans soldiers, merchants, engineers, their wives and children, along with the East India Company sepoys.
Massacres by General Neill 17 June–July 1857 Allahabad, Kanpur and surrounding areas, Company rule in India Thousands of Indian mutineers, suspected rebels and civilians Satichaura Ghat massacre 27 June 1857 Kanpur, Company rule in India ~ 200 British officers. Massacred by Nana Sahib’s forces.
Bibighar massacre 15 July 1857 Kanpur, Company rule in India ~ 200 British women and children The victims were prisoners under Nana Sahib’s forces. The massacre was carried out by a group of butchers.
Kuka (Namdhari) massacre at Malerkotla 17–18 January 1872 Malerkotla, Punjab, British Raj ~ 65 Kuka (Namdhari) Killed The Namdharis to be executed with cannons, without any trial.
Mangadh massacre 17 November 1913 Mangadh (now Gujarat-Rajasthan), British Raj Claimed 1,500 tribals Machine guns and canons were fired under the command of British officers.
Jallianwala Bagh massacre 13 April 1919 Amritsar, Punjab, British Raj 379–381 dead, ~1,100 Indians. Reginald Edward Harry Dyer ordered a unit of the British Indian Army to open fire on an unarmed, nonviolent group of protesters, along with Baishakhi pilgrims.
Moplah Rebellion - October 1921 Malabar, Kerala, British Raj 2,337–10,000 Hindus and Muslims (100,000 Hindus permanently migrated). Khilafat Movement considered as main cause.
Pal-Chitariya massacre - 7 March 1922 Pal-Chitariya, Vijaynagar (now Gujarat), British Raj Claimed 1200 tribals The Mewar Bhil Corps led by a British officer, Major H.G. Sutton, fired on a gathering of tribals.
Kohat riots 9–11 September 1924 Kohat, North-West Frontier Province, British Raj 155 Hindus and Sikhs were killed (3,200 Hindus permanently migrated).
Calcutta riots 15 July 1926 Calcutta, Bengal, British Raj 100+ dead, 200+ injured A Muslim mob attacked a Hindu possession, later broken up by a mounted police charge on the Muslim rioters.
United Provinces riots 1923 to 1927 United Provinces, British Raj thousands dead and injured 88 separate communal riots, including the: 4 September 1927
Nagpur riots, 3–7 May 1927 Lahore, November 1927 Lahore. British Raj 22 killed, 100+ injured.
Qissa Khwani Bazaar massacre 23 April 1930 Peshawar, British Raj 1 British Indian Army dispatch rider, and ~ 20– 230 protesters After a British Indian Army despatch rider was killed and burned in the Bazaar two armoured cars were ordered to drive in and open fire on the protesters.
Amko Simko massacre 25 April 1939 Simko Village, Sundergarh, Odisha British Raj ~ 49 to 300 tribal peasants dead, ~ 50 injured Crowd of tribals resisting the arrest of freedom fighter Nirmal Munda fired upon by troops of the British Indian army.
Calcutta Riots 15 August – 17 September 1946 West Bengal, British Raj 7,000 to 10,000 Hindus and Muslims. Hindus and Muslims clashed during a protest by All India Muslim League termed as Direct Action Day.
Noakhali riots September–October 1946 East Bengal, British Raj 5,000 Hindus Muslim community attacked Hindu community for seizing wealth and forced conversion to Islam. Around 150,000 to 750,000 survivors were sheltered in temporary relief camps
Bihar Massacre 30 October – 7 November 1946 Bihar, British Raj 2,000–3,000 Muslims By Hindus in reaction to Noakhali riots
Garhmukteshwar Anti-Muslim Violence November 1946 United Provinces, British Raj at least 214 Muslims Partition of the country into India and Pakistan was looming.
Independent India #
Partition of India 1947 Punjab, Delhi and Sindh, , Dominion of India and Dominion of Pakistan ~ 200,000–2,000,000 people Massacre of Sikhs and Hindus by Muslims in West Punjab and of Muslims by Sikhs and Hindus in East Punjab. The communal violence resulted in the murder of 20,000–25,000 Muslims and 45000-60000 Hindus. UNHCR estimates 14 million were displaced by the violence.
Jammu massacres September to November 1947 Jammu Division, Jammu and Kashmir (princely state) 20,000–100,000 Muslims 20,000+ Hindus and Sikhs.
Anti-Brahmin riots of 1948 January 1948 Paschim Maharashtra Unknown Post the Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on 30 January 1948, at the hands of Nathuram Godse, a Chitpavan Brahmin, there were heavy reprisals on the community by Congress supporters in notable regions of Western Maharashtra like Pune, Satara, Kolhapur, Sangli, Ahmednagar, Solapur. Pre-existing social tensions between the castes, resentment among non-Brahmins, especially Marathas, towards the socio-political dominance of Brahmins in the region was said to be a major cause. Aspects of the violence included arson, looting of Brahmin households, assaults on Brahmins, the nature of which turned fatal in numerous instances.
Hyderabad massacre of 1948 1948 Hyderabad State 27,000–40,000 Hyderabadi civilians  Backlash against Muslims and Hindus for earlier violence by Razakars after India’s take-over of Hyderabad.
Matikhrü Massacre 6 September 1960 Matikhrü (now in Phek District, Nagaland) 9 civilians. On September 6, 1960, when forces of the 16th Punjab Regiment of the Indian Army committed an act of mass murder against the village of Matikhrü.
1966 anti-cow slaughter agitation 7 November 1966 New Delhi 375–5000 Hindus killed Hindu Sadhus and protestors killed by government
Kilvenmani massacre 25 December 1968 Nagapattinam Tamil Nadu 44 killed Striking agricultural workers murdered by a gang, allegedly by their landlords.
1969 Gujarat riots Officially 660 total; 430 Muslims, 24 Hindus, 58 others/unidentified casualties Hindu-Muslim riots. 1074 injured and over 48,000 lost their property. Unofficial reports claim as high as 2000 deaths. Muslim community suffered the majority of the losses. Out of the 512 deaths reported in the police complaints, 430 were Muslims. Property worth 42 million rupees destroyed during the riots, with Muslims losing 32 million worth of property.
Turkman gate demolition and rioting 1976 Delhi Officially 6, unofficially 15 killed by police (nearly all Muslims). Killing of Delhi residents who refused to move residence.  Marichjhapi incident 31 January 1979 West Bengal Official figures 2, Hindustan Times quotes 50 to 1000 Hindu refugees. Actual numbers estimated to be around 3000–5000. Killing of refugees who came from East Pakistan.
Moradabad riots 1980 Uttar Pradesh Officially 400; unofficial estimates as high as 2500. Started as a Muslim-Police conflict; later turned into a Hindu-Muslim riot.
Mandai massacre 1980 Tripura 255–500 Bengali Hindu refugees
Khoirabari massacre 7 February 1983 Assam 100-500 Bengalis
Nellie massacre 18 February 1983 Assam 2,191 Bengalis, majorly Muslim In Assam
Train Passenger massacre I (part of the terrorist incidents in Punjab) 23 February 1984 Punjab 11 Hindus
1984 anti-Sikh riots 31 October – 4 November 1984 Primarily Delhi but also other parts of India 2,800 to 8,000 Sikhs all over India Series of pogroms by Congress supporters after Assassination of Indira Gandhi.
Hondh-Chillar massacre (part of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots) 2 November 1984 Hondh-Chillar, Haryana 32 Sikhs Rioting by Indian National Congress Party members after Assassination of Indira Gandhi.
Desri Ground massacre (part of the terrorist incidents in Punjab) 28 March 1986 Ludhiana, Punjab 13 Hindus
Mallian massacre (part of the terrorist incidents in Punjab) 29 March 1986 Jalandhar, Punjab 20 Hindu labourers
Bus Passenger massacre III (part of the terrorist incidents in Punjab) 25 July 1986 Mukatsar, Punjab 15 Hindus
Bus Passenger massacre IV (part of the terrorist incidents in Punjab) 30 November 1986 Khudda, Punjab 24 Hindus
Hashimpura massacre 22 May 1987 Meerut, Uttar Pradesh 42 Muslims Bus Passenger massacre V (part of the terrorist incidents in Punjab) July 1987 Fatehbad, Haryana 80 Hindus
Jagdev Kalan massacre (part of the terrorist incidents in Punjab) 6 August 1987 Punjab 13 Hindus
Rajbah massacre (part of the terrorist incidents in Punjab) 31 March 1988 Punjab 18 Hindus belonging to 1 family
Train Passenger massacre II (part of the 1991 Punjab killings) 15 June 1988 Ludhiana, Punjab 80 (mostly Hindus)
Train Passenger massacre III (part of the 1991 Punjab killings) December 1988 Ludhiana, Punjab 49 (mostly Hindus)
Hazaribagh massacre September 1989 Hazaribag 53 Hindus and 20 Muslims
Bhagalpur riots October 1989 Bhagalpur, Bihar The total dead numbered around 1000, around 900 were Muslims; it was difficult to establish the religious identity of other victims. Two false rumors about the killing of Hindu students started circulating: one rumor stated that nearly 200 Hindu university students had been killed by the Muslims, while another rumor stated that 31 Hindu boys had been murdered with their bodies dumped in a well at the Sanskrit College.
1990 Kashmiri Hindus killings 1990s Kashmir Valley Officially 219 Hindus; though estimates as high as 1,341 have been reported Large numbers had fled since 1989 to escape targeted killings and abductions. 219 were killed from 1989 to 2004 according to government of Jammu and Kashmir, while an organization of the community in Kashmir carried out a survey whose data stated that 399 had been killed since 1990 with an estimated 75% killed in 1990 alone.
Gawakadal massacre 20 January 1990 Srinagar, Kashmir 50 Kashmiri Protestors Indian Forces opened fire, with heavy guns, on a group of Kashmiri protesters, who were pelting stones at the police
Ayodhya police firing 30 October 1990 Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh 16 Hindus (official figure) Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav ordered the police to open fire on kar sevaks who reached Ayodhya. The dead bodies were allegedly thrown in Saryu river.
1991 anti-Tamil violence in Karnataka 12–13 December 1991 Mainly Bangalore, Mysore but also other parts of southern Karnataka 18 Tamils violent attacks originated in the demonstrations organised against the orders of the Cauvery Water Tribunal.
Bombay riots December 1992 – January 1993 Mumbai 575 Muslims, 275 Hindus, 45 unknown and 5 others Hindu-Muslim communal riot as an effect of Demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.
Sopore massacre 6 January 1993 Sopore, Kashmir 55 Kashmiri students Security forces fired on procession.
Bijbehara Massacre 22 October 1993 Bijbehara, Kashmir 55 Kashmiri protestors Indian armed forces fired upon unarmed Kashmiri protestors resulting in 55 civilian deaths. 1994 Mokokchung Massacre 27 December 1994 Mokokchung, Nagaland 12 civilians The incident took place when forces of the 10 Assam Rifles and the 12 Maratha Light Infantry of the Indian Army raided upon civilian populace of Nagaland’s Mokokchung.
1995 Kohima massacre 5 March 1995 Kohima, Nagaland 7 civilians The incident was sparked off by a tyre burst from an army convoy’s own vehicle leading the armed troops to fire at civilian populace after mistaking the sound of the tyre bursting for a bomb attack.
1997 Ramabai killings 11 July 1997 Ramabai colony, Mumbai 10 people of the Dalit caste A team of State Reserve Police Force members fired upon a crowd protesting the recent desecration of a statue of Dalit activist B. R. Ambedkar.
Laxmanpur Bathe massacre 1 December 1997 Arwal district, Bihar 58 people of the Dalit caste Upper caste Ranvir Sena enter village at night and kill 58 Dalits, were sympathizers of the Maoists behind the killing of 37 upper caste men in Bara in Gaya district in 1992.
1998 Wandhama massacre 25 January 1998 Wandhama, Jammu and Kashmir 23 Kashmiri Pandit Unknown militants.
1998 Prankote massacre 17 April 1998 Jammu and Kashmir 26 Hindus 1998 Chapnari massacre 19 June 1998 Chapnari, Jammu and Kashmir 25 Hindus Allegedly perpetrated by Pakistani-backed insurgents.
1998 Chamba massacre 3 August 1998 Chamba district, Himachal Pradesh 35 Hindus Attack by Islamic militant group.
Chittisinghpura massacre 20 March 2000 Chittisinghpura, Anantnag district, Jammu and Kashmir 36 Sikhs Attack by Islamic militant group
Gouranga Tilla massacre 2000 Tripura 16 non-tribal Hindus
Bagber massacre 20 May 2000 Tripura 25 non-tribal Hindus
Nanoor massacre 27 July 2000 West Bengal 11 labourers
2000 Amarnath pilgrimage massacre 1 August 2000 Jammu and Kashmir 30 (Hindu pilgrims) Attack by Muslim militants.
2001 Kishtwar massacre 3 August 2001 Jammu and Kashmir 19 Hindus Attack by Muslim militants.
Godhra massacre 27 February 2002 Godhra, Gujarat 59 Hindus Hindu passengers (mostly women and children) burnt alive and pelted with rocks. Different commissions were set up; one was by the Government of Gujarat to investigate the train burning spent 6 years going over the details of the case, and concluded that the fire was arson committed by a mob of 1000–2000 people. But some reports say the cause of the Godhra train fire is still uncertain. The court convicted 31 Muslims and another 63 were acquitted due to lack of evidence.
2002 Gujarat riots 28 February 2002 Ahmedabad As per government reports, 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus killed, 223 reported missing, 2,500 injured. Unofficial estimates by groups like Human Rights Watch put the death toll to over 2,000. Communal violence.
Gulbarg Society massacre (part of the 2002 Gujarat riots) 28 February 2002 Ahmedabad 69 (mostly Muslims)
Naroda Patiya massacre (part of the 2002 Gujarat riots) 28 February 2002 Naroda, Ahmedabad 97 Muslims.
March 2002 Raghunath attack (part of 2002 Raghunath temple attacks) 30 March 2002 Jammu & Kashmir 11 Hindus killed, 20 injured (Hindu devotees) Muslim militant 2002 Qasim Nagar massacre 13 July 2002 Jammu and Kashmir 29 Hindus Terrorist attack Akshardham Temple attack 24 September 2002 Gujarat 29 killed, 79 injured (Hindus) Terrorist attack.
November 2002 Raghunath temple attack (part of 2002 Raghunath temple attacks) 24 November 2002 Jammu & Kashmir 14 killed, 45 injured (mostly Hindu devotees) Blamed on Lashkar-e-Taiba.
2003 Nadimarg massacre 23 March 2002 Jammu and Kashmir 24 Hindus Terrorist attack.
2002 Kaluchak massacre 14 May 2002 Jammu and Kashmir 31 Terrorist attack on a tourist bus and Army’s family quarter.
Marad massacre May 2003 Kerala 8 killed, 58 injured.
2006 Varanasi bombings March 2006 Uttar Pradesh 28 killed, 101 injured - Devotees of Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple targeted Terrorist attack on a Hindu temple.
2006 Doda massacre 30 April 2006 Jammu & Kashmir 35 Hindus Terrorist attack
2007 Samjhauta Express bombings 18 February 2007 Diwana station 68 people mostly Pakistani nationals and some Indians including some Railway employees .
2008 Mumbai attacks 26 November 2008 Mumbai Over 164 killed, over 600 injured 11 coordinated attacks by proven Pakistani terrorists; casualties include people of various nationalities, and Israeli victims were reportedly tortured before being killed.
April 2010 Maoist attack in Dantewada 6 April 2010 Chhattisgarh 76 Maoist militant ambushed CRPF
2010 Dantewada bus bombing 17 May 2010 Chhattisgarh 44 Maoist militant attacked a civilian bus.
2012 Assam violence July 2012 Assam 77 Racial sentiments of the majority Assamese and Bodo community towards the local Bengali speaking Bangladeshi Muslim community leads to several attempts to deport the minority Bengali Muslums to Bangladesh forcefully, thus with a protest in defence from the other party, Communal violence broke out between Assamese, Bodos (Tribal, Christian, and Hindu faith) and Bengali speaking Bangladeshi Muslims.
2013 Naxal attack in Darbha valley 25 May 2013 Chhattisgarh 28 28 people from a Congress Party motorcade.
2013 Muzaffarnagar riots 25 August 2013 – 17 September 2013 Muzaffarnagar district, Uttar Pradesh 42 Muslims and 20 Hindus killed and 93 injured Eve-teasing of Hindu Girls, murder of a Muslim boy, then public lynching of the murderers (two Hindu boys) triggered communal riot between the Hindu and the Muslim community.
2017 Amarnath Yatra attack 10 July 2017 Anantnag district, Jammu and Kashmir 8 Hindu pilgrims A bus carrying Hindu pilgrims of Amarnath Yatra was attacked by Lashkar-e-Taiba, resulting in deaths of 8 pilgrims.
2017 Haryana riots 25-26 August 2017 Panjab, Haryana, Chandigarh district, Northern India 41+ killed and 300+ injured 546 Arrested, Nearly 1000 Detained, Caused by Rape conviction of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Charged Honeypreet Insan, Rioting and arson 2020 Delhi riots 23 February 2020 – 1 March 2020 North East Delhi 53 killed and 200+ injured 2,200 arrested (including detained). Caused by clashes between pro-CAA mobs and anti-CAA mobs.
2021 Nagaland killings 4 December 2021 Oting, Mon District, Nagaland 13 killed
Rwanda, 1994 #
About 85% of Rwandans are Hutus but the Tutsi minority has long dominated the country. In 1959, the Hutus overthrew the Tutsi monarchy and tens of thousands of Tutsis fled to neighbouring countries, including Uganda.
A group of Tutsi exiles formed a rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which invaded Rwanda in 1990 and fighting continued until a 1993 peace deal was agreed.
On the night of 6 April 1994 a plane carrying then-President Juvenal Habyarimana, and his counterpart - both Hutus - was shot down, killing everyone on board.
Hutu extremists blamed the RPF and immediately started a well-organised campaign of slaughter. The RPF said the plane had been shot down by Hutus to provide an excuse for the genocide.
The Hutu extremists set up a radio station, RTLM, and newspapers which circulated hate propaganda, urging people to “weed out the cockroaches” meaning kill the Tutsis. The names of prominent people to be killed were read out on radio.
With meticulous organisation. Lists of government opponents were handed out to militias who went and killed them, along with all of their families.
Neighbours killed neighbours and some husbands even killed their Tutsi wives, saying they would be killed if they refused.
At the time, ID cards had people’s ethnic group on them, so militias set up roadblocks where Tutsis were slaughtered, often with machetes which most Rwandans kept around the house.
Even priests and nuns have been convicted of killing people, including some who sought shelter in churches.
By the end of the 100-day killing spree, around 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus had been killed.
The UN Peacekeeping Force, stood by helplessly because they were not allowed to use weapons to keep the peace.
Eventually the UN Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Tanzania to prosecute the ringleaders.