DOTO - Documentation Of The Oppressed

DOCUMENTATION OF THE OPPRESSED (DOTO DATABASE)

The last few years have witnessed an entrenching of violence against marked segments of the Indian citizenry. The unfolding of ‘hate’- this violence against Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis etc- though not new, has taken an increasingly political and institutional character in the changed socio-political landscape post 2014 (or 2010). Organized and institutional violence by state and allied groups- through myriad acts of omission, commission and nurturing- have reinforced existing vulnerabilities, producing new and deepening forms of abuse and marginalization.

Responding to this systemic violence from a rights and community based approach, we (various civil society actors) feel the need for increased institutional and social vigilance through deepening engagement with democratic institutions and rights mechanisms.  

Most importantly, we seek to entrench community based reporting and intervention through a common documentation platform for civil society of marginalized groups: DOTO database. A platform that addresses both immediate and long-term issues related to the systemic violation of fundamental rights, erosion of constitutional values and the organization and deployment of ‘hate’.

DOTO: The first step

To start with, we have created an online platform that can map and document all incidents of violence- especially against specific communities and on specific issues (www.dotodatabase.com). Documentation of the oppressed (DOTO) is an independent, non-profit documentation center based in New Delhi. It is is run by a large network of civil society organizations both at the national and at the grasroot level.

Doto database functions both as a tracker of violence, and a site for in-depth narratives. The database mixes a crowd-sourcing model with its own investigative and editorial teams. With a large number of cases of hate violence going unreported because of dwindling media interest and investment, DOTO seeks to tip off media reportage in the northern hinterlands of India.

DOTO database is simple, and easy to use, and seeks to create a large scale repository which can then be used for various purposes: from activating the legal machinery in individual cases, to national and international advocacy.

DOTO NETWORK & PARTNERS

The team

The DOTO project has two independent teams dedicated for the task: The executive team and the editorial group.

The Executive Team: is a set of young lawyers, criminologists and social workers dedicated to the task of documenting hate violence. The team establishes the on-ground networks, trains community persons, conducts fact findings, verifies information and undertakes selective advocacy,

  • Fawaz Shaheen
  • Shuhaib C
  • Vipul Kumar
  • Baljeet Kaur
  • Kallika Mehta

The editorial Group: The editorial group is a set of senior media persons and academics who have the final say on the cases. The executive team verifies the information and passes it on to the editors. The editors take a call on the journalistic quality of the cases and send it back to the executive team. The editorial group is being constituted. Those who would like to be a part of this team, please write to us as dotodatabase@gmail.com

What are we documenting?

We are documenting four different categories of violence. These can be broken down into:

  • Religious Identity Based Violence
  • Hate Speech
  • Discrimination / Institutional Violence:
  • Violence by the State

1) Religious Identity Based Violence: This category comprises cases where physical violence has actually taken place, and the stated, or overtly discernible, motivation behind the violence is related to:

  • The victim’s religious identity,
  • The perpetrator’s religious-ideological belief.

Thus, this category covers all instances where a person is targeted because she belongs to a particular religious minority. However, it includes those instances where the victim may not be a minority- and in some instances may even be a co-religionist of the perpetrator- but where the motivation behind the violence is, clearly, the perpetrator’s belief that they are acting in furtherance of their religious ideology[1].

Within this category, the following sub-categories are included:

  • Violence causing Death:
    • Murder
    • Burnt Alive
    • Communally Motivated Lynching
  • Physical Assault
  • Sexual Violence
    • Sexual Harassment
    • Rape
  • Communal Violence / Massacre
  • Vandalism and Hooliganism
    • Demolition
    • Arson
    • Breaking Vehicles
    • Demolition of Religious infrastructure
    • Extra Legal Acquisition/appropriation of land
    • Threats
  1. Hate Speech

Within hate speech our universe is limited to speeches made by those who are:

  • Occupying a constitutional or statutory position,
  • Members of a political party making a speech at an official event,
  • members of recognized affiliates of political parties making a speech at an official event.
  1. Discrimination / Institutional Violence:
  • Housing Discrimination
  • Discrimination in Education
  • Discrimination in employment
  • Institutional discrimination
  • Denial of access to public spaces/institutions
  • People leaving traditional food habits/livelihood
  • Economic Boycott
  • Social Boycott
  1. State Violence
  • Encounter Killing
  • Unlawful Detention

[1] For example, this category would include the case of Mr.M.M Kalburgic- a noted scholar who was attacked and killed by his-coreligionist for insulting the Hindu religion. Similarly, it would include cases where a person belonging to the same religion as that of the perpetrator, is attacked because they were supposedly desecrating a cow or consuming beef. A brief list of such commonly observed motivations can be found in the “Causal Factors” section in Appendix 1 in the documentation format.

The Doto project visualizes the data collection in two phases. The first phase is complete while the second phase is presently ongoing.

A . 1st phase: The 1st phase consists of collection and collation of data through secondary sources, and its categorized digitization and analysis.

  • Secondary sources include newspaper reports and credible civil society reportage- fact-findings, citizen commissions, peoples’ tribunals, and annual reports etc.
  • Analysis: The data has been analyzed based on a semi-structured questionnaire format that sorts incidents on the basis of nature of violence and its causal factors. The sorted data has then been brought together in a digital library that is highly visual and made publicly available.
  • Limitation: In the first phase, only the 1st category of violence- that of religious identity based violence- has been documented. The research form has been designed accordingly. The rest is to be undertaken in Phase 2.
  1. B . 2nd phase: While documentation through Secondary sources continues, the Doto project seeks to layer it with primary source information: concentrated data gathering at specific sites of violence- especially UP, Haryana, and Jharkhand. (ongoing)
  • Documentation through primary source: The Doto project has a dedicated team which has partnered with various civil society groups/individuals who are doing on-site interventions. This team is involved in data collection as well intervention follow up work with regards to the legal status of cases as well rehabilitation of victims.
  • The Doto project now seeks to constitute a wider network specifically for the purposes of data collection and verification- journalists, friends in the media, community organizations, social/political organisations and civil rights groups.

Design: The design for Religious identity based violence is based on mixed methods. Although there is an attempt for quantification of instances of violence, as well as its victims, these are not representative figures. The figures available are a fraction of the actual numbers, as most instances of violence remain unreported and hence invisiblized. Although design doesn’t allow space for in-depth qualitative analysis, there is space, however, for narratives in each case.

The Verification process: The Doto project documentation format clearly specifies a source for every incident it documents. These sources are:

  • News Report
  • Community Networks
  • Other Reports
  • This happened to me
  • This happened to someone I know
  • This is something I came to know about
  • This is something I saw online
  • Fact Finding Report
  • Testimony of victim (and his/her family relatives)

Every entry made, goes through a screening process before being published on the website. The entries are sent to a team of editors who run it through both the source as well as civil society individuals and groups who are working in the area. In the absence of individuals/ groups, the editors send a team to verify the fact themselves.