India saw 255 Islamophobic hate speech events in 2023, most in BJP-ruled states: Report
The Hindutva Watch's report revealed that a significant proportion of these incidents occurred in states scheduled to hold legislative elections in 2023 and 2024.
In an alarming scenario, more than one instance of hate speech gatherings or rallies targeting Muslims was recorded daily throughout the first half of 2023, according to a report by Hindutva Watch.
Hindutva Watch, a data-based research initiative monitoring the Hindu right-wing ecosystem said there were 255 recorded instances of hate speech gatherings or rallies targeting Muslims in the first six months of 2023.
Overwhelmingly, 205 (80 per cent) of these hate speech events occurred in the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states and union territories, said the Washington DC-based research group.
Hindutva Watch stated that the most number of these events took place in Maharashtra, followed by Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat. It also highlighted that despite Uttarakhand comprising less than 1 per cent of India’s total population, nearly 5 per cent of the hate events this year took place in the state.
The report also revealed a significant proportion of these incidents occurred in states scheduled to hold legislative elections in 2023 and 2024, highlighting the potential use of anti-Muslim hate speech events for voter mobilization.
Most hate speech gatherings were orchestrated by entities affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Bajrang Dal, the Sakal Hindu Samaj, and the Bharatiya Janata Party. The most employed method by these groups was propagating prominent anti-Muslim conspiracy theories like love jihad, land jihad and misinformation about the growth of the Muslim population in India.
A concerning 33 per cent of all the gatherings explicitly called for violence against Muslims. About 11 per cent of events included explicit calls for Hindus to boycott Muslims, while 4 per cent of all the events featured hate-filled and sexist speeches explicitly targeting Muslim women.
The report also underlined that incidents of hate speech saw a surge in March, coinciding with the Hindu festival of Ram Navami. Eighteen hate speech events took place across the country in the last week of the month, suggesting a possible coordinated effort to incite violence on the day.
#Report—— 255 documented incidents of hate speech events/gatherings targeting Muslims recorded in the first half of 2023. Overwhelmingly, 205 (80%) of these hate speech events occurred in BJP-ruled states and union territories.— HindutvaWatch (@HindutvaWatchIn) September 26, 2023
Read the full report here: https://t.co/RFpLx8Ac1C pic.twitter.com/URqtmLuc7a
The Hindutva watch relied on social media and news reports to gather this data. It said that it deployed data-scraping techniques to identify verifiable videos of hate speech events and followed it with in-depth interviews by researchers and journalists, as part of its methodology.
Since India does not have an official definition of “hate speech”, the group used the United Nations framework for the categorisation.
The UN defines hate speech as “any form of communication, whether oral, written, or behavioural, that employs prejudiced or discriminatory language towards an individual or group based on attributes such as religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, colour, descent, gender or other identity factors.”