Political Violence and Justice Lab


The Riotous Republic is Polis Project’s data set that compiles mob based violence — riots, massacres and lynching. We are currently working on creating an extensive dataset of violence since 1947 in India, that map and analyse these events  in terms of actors (perpetrators and victims), command responsibility, questions of due process ( a look at investigations, arrests, judicial proceedings, commission reports and their outcomes ) and finally how the individual and communities who were affected by this violence view justice.

The research will be presented as a multiplatform project that along with the data set incorporates timelines, maps, articles, archival material and images. We are building a platform and a living archive made available to researchers, reporters and journalist — ideally in a multimedia format which allows others to run further experiments on this data set.

In India, the media has historically reported a small fraction of political violence at a great length. Overall, it has provided its readers and viewers with an inaccurate picture of political violence in their communities, its judicial outcomes and how this violence affects their communities. For example, while isolated acts of lynchings have been reported as spectacle, there exists no comprehensive reporting on the lynching of tribal populations, Dalits and other minorities and how these events have been used to discipline, punish and coerce powerless groups within the Republic.

Acts of political violence are not isolated, a series independent events are linked to larger social, economic, and political forces. If journalists, writers, scholars and reporters are to make those links in news stories, they’ll need help from political scientists, anthropologist and legal researchers who understand how data sets are built and analyse patterns of violence.

Currently, political violence data sets, judicial datasets exist independently. There exists no dataset that maps and analysis political violence and their legal outcomes extensively, along with an archive of secondary resources. While India is a secular republic, this year Pew Research Center’s social hostilities index ranked India as fourth worst in the world for religious intolerance followed by Syria, Nigeria and Iraq. India’s constitution provides for religious freedom, but often perpetrators of political violence are not prosecuted. Ideas un-interrogated often become their hostages, at present, there is very little understanding of the rapidly transforming nature of political violence and how it affects democratic citizenship.

Making quality research available to reporters, journalists, writers and other scholars and reporters in a form that is easily searchable, and the ability to run regressions on the data to back arguments that explain the patterns of violence remains imperative. We are currently looking for collaborators, volunteers and research interns.

If you are a developer, or data journalist looking to collaborate please write to us. We also are constantly looking for to help populate our data set. All volunteers will be trained in research methods.

This project is currently run by Suchitra Vijayan and Vasundhara Sirnate Drennan.

Email: suchitra (at) thepolisproject (dot) com