It is crucial to compare peaceful places with violent places in order to identify specific risk factors associated with violence. Attempting to understand causes of violence by examining only those cases where violence occurred can lead to spurious conclusions. In India, comparative methods have been pioneered by sociologists and political scientists such as Paul Brass, Steven Wilkinson, Henrik Urdal and Ashutosh Varshney. Following in Wilkinson’s footsteps, we systematically analysed the number of killings in the 191 towns and 25 rural areas of Gujarat. We chose to measure violence by the number of deaths because we suspect that newspapers did not report some non-lethal riots. This is not to undermine the significance of non-lethal violence, which often continued longer and resulted in enormous losses to property.
We checked data on the volume of arson, and found a strong correlation with killings. This substantiates our original findings.