The report observed that the northern, western and central states have a high concentration of hate speeches delivered as compared to southern and eastern regions where the saffron party’s influence is low
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its affiliated right-aligned organisations are responsible for the “escalating trend” of anti-Muslim hate speeches, according to a report by Hindutva Watch, a US-based rights group documenting hate crimes against minorities in India. The report was published on September 24.
The report suggests about 255 incidents of hate speech gatherings targeting Muslims were documented in the first half of 2022. Of these 255 incidents, 80% took place in BJP-ruled states and Union territories. Sixty percent of the events involved calls to arms, 81% involved conspiracy theories and 78% included complete Muslim boycott.
In India, hate speech is a direct call to violence and social and economic boycotts of religious minorities. Hate speech often gives birth to cow vigilantism, exclusion of Muslims and Christians in state and judiciary positions and coinage of conspiracy theories such as ‘love jihad’, ‘economic jihad’, ‘halal jihad’, ‘land jihad’ ‘population jihad’ and very recent ‘thook jihad’, ‘UPSC jihad’, and ‘fertilizer jihad’.
All of the above are defined as allegedly causing harm in some way or the other to the Hindu community. These conspiracy theories often work in favour of the ruling saffron party during elections by creating a communal wedge.
The report further observed that the northern, western and central states have a high concentration of hate speeches delivered as compared to southern and eastern regions where the saffron party’s influence is low.
Maharashtra (74) recorded the highest number of hate speeches followed by Karnataka (26) when it was under BJP rule, Madhya Pradesh (25), Rajasthan (25), Gujarat (20) and Uttar Pradesh (13). Interestingly, all the above states are ruled by the BJP except Rajasthan, which is a Congress state.
BJP’s basic roots stem from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a far-right Hindu nationalist organisation. There are video recordings of prominent political leaders including sitting BJP chief ministers who are often the purveyors of anti-Muslim hate speech.
The United Nations 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.”
Uttar Pradesh, run by Yogi-Adiyanath was the first state to adopt the bulldozer culture where under the pretext of illegal construction or ‘justice system’, homes and commercial buildings owned by Muslims were destroyed. This was soon adopted by other BJP-run states such as Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand etc.
Moreover, the hijab ban in schools and shops and homes of Muslims marked with a black ‘X’ symbol to intimidate them.
The report points out that March ranks highest in the number of hate speeches delivered. It is important to mention that both Ramzan and Ram Navami, two prominent Muslim and Hindu festivals respectively, fell at nearly the same time this year. There were outbreaks of violence in at least six states in which two lives were lost and scores injured.
After the India Bureau stopped gathering data on hate crimes, Hindutva Watch became the first to document hate against Muslim minorities in India.
Responding to the Hindutva Watch report, senior BJP member Abhay Verma called it “totally baseless.” He said, “We don’t divide the country and people based on their religions. There is no support from the BJP in favour of hate speech.”