NEW DELHI — On a bright morning earlier this month, a former army officer was riding his motorcycle down a rural road south of India’s capital when he reached an improvised barricade. He had no idea the villagers were looking for a scapegoat.He slowed his bike to a stop. The men at the barricade quickly identified him as a Muslim from the neighboring area in the state of Haryana. “These people are spreading the coronavirus,” said one of the villagers, according to a police complaint filed by the man’s family. “Grab him.”Sahimuddin, 49, who goes by only one name, felt a rope thrown around his neck. The attackers tightened the noose until he fell unconscious, the complaint said. He was later rushed to a hospital coughing blood, where doctors performed emergency surgery on his ruptured vocal cords and damaged trachea. He will require two more operations in the weeks ahead.The assault reflected one of the oldest — and ugliest — human impulses: the desire to blame calamity on those who are different. In India, the search for scapegoats during the coronavirus pandemic has focused squarely on the country’s sizable Muslim minority, a community of 200 million that felt under threat even


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